Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar at Loehmann's Plaza, a stalwart in the community since it opened in 1991, announced suddenly Monday that it was closing the restaurant.
The persistent recession, competition from newer downtown restaurants and an aging neighborhood demographic that was eating out less frequently all played a role in the restaurant's downturn, according to Alan Irvine, co-owner of the three Sacramento area Scott's Seafood restaurants. The Scott's at Le Rivage Hotel along the Sacramento River and the Scott's in Folsom continue to do well and will remain open, Irvine said.
The company posted a notice on its website Monday, stating in part:
"It is with great regret that we announce the closure of Scott's Seafood Grill and Bar in Loehmann's Plaza. Alan Irvine, John Cook and their families opened this restaurant over 20 years ago, on October 31, 1991. It quickly became the most popular seafood restaurant in Sacramento, winning awards year after year in the Sacramento Bee, News and Review, KCRA's A List and Sacramento Magazine.
"The owners, management and staff have all been working very hard to keep this beautiful restaurant viable but the local economy's lack of recovery and our failure to strike new lease terms with the landlord has made it impossible to continue."
The restaurant closed Sunday night. Early Monday, management began calling employees, including some that have been there 18 or 20 years, informing them of the decision to close, Irvine said. He noted that efforts to renegotiate terms of the lease for the 6,300-square-foot building were unsuccessful.
"We've been working with the landlord to work out a rent that works for both of us. Sales have been down the last few years. We've been here 20 years and we've had a really good run," Irvine said. "When the recession hit, it affected a lot of our clientele. Our clientele is getting older and not going out to eat as much."
In 2004, the last time the restaurant was reviewed in The Bee, it received a rating of three stars out of four, praised for its "sleek, tidy and sophisticated" ambience and seafood that showcased "the most consistently pretty presentations in town."
Irvine's roots with Scott's Seafood date to 1980, when he started with the San Francisco restaurant, rising to become director of operations. He and Cook bought the rights to the name for the Sacramento area and opened the Loehmann's Plaza restaurant in 1991.
"We kind of brought San Francisco seafood to Sacramento," Irvine said.
The new restaurant got off to a shaky start, but the concept caught on with seafood aficionados and began to thrive, Irvine said. In its heyday prior to the jolt of the recession in 2008, Scott's rang up $3.6 million a year in sales, he said.
"As soon as the recession hit, we crashed," Irvine added. "We've been working hard on it this whole time." The Le Rivage location, he added, has been "the exception to the rule and has done extremely well." The Folsom restaurant is also experiencing strong sales, he said.
Scott's hopes to absorb as many employees as possible into jobs at the other two locations.
Asked how he was dealing with the closure, Irvine said, "It's sad. This was my baby. I opened this restaurant. Scott's is my life."
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Scott's Seafood in Loehmann's Plaza, whose closing was announced today, was a landmark restaurant in that part of the city since it opened in 1991.