Old ‘Bakers Square’ site is reborn

When the Bakers Square restaurant change went under, the chain’s former West Sacramento property became a ward of the state -- which was expanding the nearby freeway interchange -- and then the City. It has since been sold to a Denny’s franchisee. Above is owner Bobby Chao (center, fifth from left). Some of those with him at the official grand opening on Dec. 3 were Chamber of Commerce CEO Denice Seals (third adult from left) and Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (fourth from left). Third from right is Charline Hamilton, city community development director; second from right is Diane Richards of the city’s economic development department. (News-Ledger photo)


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

After being vacant for a couple of years, the former “Bakers Square” restaurant on Harbor Boulevard is once more pouring coffee and flipping flapjacks – this time underneath a “Denny’s” banner.

The re-opening marks the end of a troubled few years for the property. At the same time the Bakers Square brand was fighting financial problems (the chain filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008), CalTrans was working on plans to expand the interchange next door to the West Sacramento restaurant site – a project which would affect access to the local Bakers Square.

The West Sacramento Bakers Square was among those closed down by the parent company. CalTrans made a deal for the restaurant property first, easing the way for the interchange.

Then it changed hands again.

“In the course of transferring some City right-of-way to be used for that highway project, the city ended up acquiring a piece of that property,” said Louise Collis, a senior program manager for the City of West Sacramento. But putting the old restaurant in new hands wasn’t easy.

“It was not a good time for a new restaurant to open up,” said Collis. “We ended up getting the property at the height of the recession.”

Enter Bobby Chao, who was operating the Denny’s restaurant on Lake Road in West Sacramento (near Enterprise Boulevard) as well as a Denny’s in Galt.

“He purchased it so he could expand his (local) Denny’s,” said Collis. “It’s over 30 percent larger than his old Denny’s in West Sacramento.”

Chao bought most of the old Bakers Square site for about $850,000 she said.

“He put over $400,000 of rehab into it. We were really pleased he was willing to invest that kind of money into it. That’s a really important entry to the city off of Highway 50.”

Chao said he ended up investing even more money into the building’s rehabilitation.

“I put in all new equipment, all new furniture, and painted inside and out,” Chao told the News-Ledger. “Every piece of equipment we’re using is brand-new. Basically it’s a brand-new restaurant. $400,000 was just the cost of the equipment – it doesn’t include the construction costs.”

The new Denny’s opened in late November, and Chao has vacated his lease on Lake Road.

How’s business at 1235 Harbor?

“So far, it’s good,” said Chao. “We’re significantly up – over 50 percent up over previous years at the previous location. It’s a new location and I’m very happy the community has supported it.”

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