Less than a month after scaling back its dining program and parting ways with chefs Pajo Bruich and Mike Ward, midtown's Lounge ON20 will close for good after Saturday night. The closure was announced on Lounge ON20's Facebook page by co-owners Ali Mackani and Hayk Galachyan.
After opening four years ago as a midtown ultra-lounge, Lounge ON20 featured some of Sacramento's most cutting edge food with the hires of executive chef Pajo Bruich and chef de cuisine Mike Ward. The two dabbled in molecular gastronomy and other modern techniques, with the Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson naming Lounge ON20's charcuterie plate as the best dish he had in 2011. Ward has since landed a job as culinary development manager at Feeding Crane Farms.
At its peak, Lounge ON20 was ranked No. 6 in a national restaurant survey for molecular gastronomy. Despite its haute cuisine, Lounge ON20 just wasn't generating enough business with its dining program. Following the departure of Bruich and Ward, Lounge ON20 reverted back to a bar food program and emphasis on its nightlife offerings.
This is the second Sacramento restaurant from Mackani to fold. He's the former owner of Restaurant 55 Degrees on Capitol Mall which shut down in 2008 after nearly three years in business. The pending closure of Lounge ON20 has left Mackani frustrated. He's now planning to move away from Sacramento to San Francisco.
"I'm closing my chapter on this, and then I'm closing my chapter on Sacramento," said Mackani. "You give it your best shot and move on. There's a lack of support for uniqueness across the board in this town. Sacramento needs to grow up."
Chris Macias is the Bee's food and wine writer. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias