July 17, 2013
'Lost Restaurants of Sacramento' celebrated at Time Tested Books

Thumbnail image for 9781609499730_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGBy Kurt Chirbas

It was standing room only Wednesday night as foodies packed Time Tested Books to hear a special presentation by Maryellen and Keith Burns.

The Sacramento natives, who are siblings, came to promote their newest book, "Lost Restaurants of Sacramento and their Recipes," which surveys the history of dining out in their home city.

Profiled in the book are a series of closed, but fondly remembered restaurants, such as the Milk Farm, Buggy Whip and Harvey's Hamburgers. And sprinkled in between the stories of these eateries are also recipes for some area's best-known food items, such as Wulff's house dressing, Giusti's Portuguese beans and the Nut Tree Potato Salad.

The event got off to a late start when copies of the book were in short supply.

"There has been a rush on books," Maryellen Burns told the audience as an explanation for the delay. "We are really proud, so we've actually gone to our house to get some more. So thank you. This is a great turnout."

Perhaps the gap between anticipated and realized attendance was best illustrated by the number of hot dogs the authors planned to serve. Initially, the siblings had intended to give everyone in the audience a Taylor's Market dog. However, after looking at the larger-than-expected crowd, Maryellen Burns said: "You might have to share."

The temperature in the room was high (more than one attendee turned their book into a hand-powered fan), but the crowd's enthusiasm was too.

After giving a brief overview of the book, and providing some context on history of dining in Sacramento (such as John Sutter's contribution in the 1840s and the impact of women entering the workforce in the 1940s), Maryellen and Keith Burns turned over the presentation to the audience. Most of the event consisted of attendees swapping stories about eating and working at some of their favorite old-time and bygone eateries.

Maryellen Burns admitted that the siblings could not fit everything that they had wanted into their book. She said they had a contract to write the book in five months, and were given a maximum of 40,000 words. That meant many restaurants and food topics never made it to print.

She said, however, that the two would definitely be working on a follow-up.

A video of the event can be viewed below.

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