January 22, 2013
Espanol restaurant closed? Nope, it's 90 years old and thriving

Let's spike this rumor before it spreads: No, the venerable old-school Espanol restaurant in east Sacramento has not closed its doors.

"This is our 90th year in business and things are going well," said Perry Luigi this morning. He co-owns the restaurant with family members. "We've held our menu prices for at least years and still serve family-style dinners."

The cause of the confusion: El Dorado Savings vacated the space next door to the Espanol to move across the street, into the Sav-Mart shopping center. Temporarily occupying the empty building is Liberty Tax, which will camp there through tax season. For those driving by on Folsom Boulevard, it may look like the Espanol has closed.

The Espanol opened in the 1920s and calls itself "the Italian restaurant with a Spanish name." It began life as a Basque restaurant created to accommodate the Spanish sheepherders who lodged in boardinghouse quarters above it, at 11th and J streets. Today, the minestrone soup is brought to the table in a blue tureen with a ladle, a remnant of the Espanol's heritage of serving meals "Basque-style" or "family-style."

The Espanol changed hands and relocated in 1952 to Third and I streets in the Commercial Hotel, then to Folsom Boulevard in 1965, its present site.

Certainly, the Espanol is out of the hip farm-to-fork mainstream. It's more of a relic of a bygone era, but its clientele is famously loyal.

"The menu and the staff haven't changed much in years," Luigi said. "We're a straightforward, no-gimmick restaurant. We do what we do, and we do it well."

The Espanol is at 5723 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 457-1936.

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