SACRAMENTO, CA—With the craft brewery scene flourishing across the country, the brewing culture in this city continues to immerse itself within the local F&B culture, slipping itself into restaurants and hotels, and, now, into the guestroom, where guests can partake in their own pub crawl.
“Before Prohibition, Sacramento was the largest producer of beer in the U.S.,” said Oliver Ridgeway, executive chef of Grange Restaurant & Bar at The Citizen Hotel, a 196-room Autograph Collection property with more than 9,000 sq. ft. of function space. “After, the Midwest picked up on it. There has been a sudden resurgence in the last six years in craft breweries.”
Sacramento is—and always has been—open to new ideas and locally run businesses, especially with regard to the F&B scene. “Because of the many breweries in the area, there is a goal to create great beer that stands out,” the chef said. “That comes through healthy competition. There’s a common goal of having Sacramento be a beer destination.” For example, the city has hosted the California Craft Beer Summit for the past couple of years.
Originally from Sussex, England, Ridgeway—who’s been the executive chef at Grange Restaurant & Bar for a little more than six years now—views the city as an agricultural hub, an F&B scene without boundaries, quite literally. “Sacramento is still a place where you can see the master brewer on deck while you sip a pint—just like you can see the chefs cooking in their restaurants,” he said.
The city’s open-armed F&B culture has made the property’s new room-service program an easy sell to guests looking for a localized experience. Created in partnership with the hotel’s restaurant, the new offering, called “Capitol Cravings,” which had been in the works for about six months, attempts to provide out-of-town visitors with a sense of place. With the help of his team, Ridgeway researched to learn more about the F&B needs of the hotel’s guests before rolling out the program.
“We like to keep an eye on trends and monitor our guests’ eating habits,” he said. “We have never been a cookie-cutter hotel F&B operation. We’re able to introduce new concepts and programs very easily. Our staff members are flexible to new change and ideas.”
Ridgeway tracks all online feedback, in addition to reading magazines and books. He also follows industry leaders on various networks. Most importantly, the property’s executive chef eats out to get a feel of what’s going on with F&B.
Culling it all together, he writes down the lists he’d like to start showcasing. The chef then pulls his team into the equation, and together, they examine the options. “Once vetted out, I delegate to someone to own the project and present ideas,” he said. “From that, we determine what works and how to implement.” This helps the team not only think outside the box, but create F&B offerings unique to the hotel’s location.
“At a time when most hotels are doing away with their room-service programs altogether, we decided to go in the opposite direction and not only elevate ours, but have fun with it,” Ridgeway said. “One of the highlights of our hotel is the landmark restaurant attached to it, so it would be a missed opportunity to not capitalize on this by refreshing our in-room dining options and programming. Room-service programs overall have started dwindling as hotels embrace grab-and-go. To me, room service is part of the joy of travel. Good room service, that is, and there’s so much opportunity to innovate and elevate within the category.”
Guests have many options with the new in-room service program. To showcase the city’s flourishing craft brewery scene, there’s a “Fill Your Fridge” offering for guests.
“For a long time now, travelers have been embracing the ‘living local’ themes of experiencing a new destination,” Ridgeway said. “We wanted to further embrace this by handpicking some of our favorite Sacramento beers and snacks for guests to enjoy. I don’t know of any other hotels in this market and beyond that are offering a curated, locally made filled-fridge as an alternative to the stale minibar offerings and in addition to a robust in-room-dining program.”
The first choice available under the “Fill Your Fridge” offering is the “Sacramento Pub Crawl.” Upon order, a variety of eight beers from six different breweries will be loaded into the guest’s mini-fridge. Local breweries participating in the overall program include Track 7 Brewing Company, Ruhstaller, Device Brewing Company, Rubicon Brewing Company, Knee Deep Brewing Company and Hemly Cider. “Local breweries are doing a lot of special releases in cans only, some great options,” Ridgeway said. The chef has plans to rotate the curated beer collection. The property charges $65 for this package.
As with any F&B offering, making the right connections helps with being able to provide guests with fresh options. “I am friends with a lot of local brewery owners,” Ridgeway said. “I respect their craft and enjoy beer culture. These relationships make it easy to source and change beer.”
Available for $125, the “Sacramento Sampler” aims to provide guests with trip mementos. The idea behind the option is this: the “best of” the city’s food scene. Think: Midtown Jerky Co., Blue Diamond Almonds, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, Bariani Olive Oil & Vinegar, Carmazzi Caramel Corn, Bella Bru Bakery, Andy’s Candies, Preservation & Company Bloody Mary Mix and Capitol Sriracha. All items are complemented by Grange’s housemade seasonal jam, pickled vegetables and candied bacon. Also included in the sample are a beer from Track 7 Brewing Company and Can Can Cocktails.
The property also offers meals to guests exclusively for in-room dining. The following options are offered under the “Capitol Cravings” room-service menu: Bird & Bottle, a whole roast Mary’s chicken for two, a bottle of Boeger red wine, chef’s choice salad and two seasonal seasonal sides; Burger & Bucket, Grange Burger with lettuce, red onion and aioli, house fries, and a bucket of three locally produced beers; Benedict & Bloody, Grande Benedict, home fries and Grange Bloody Mary; Brunch & Bubbles, which consists of a pastry basket, fresh fruit, a bottle of bubbles, carafe of orange juice and a pot of coffee; and Cake & Cap, the chef’s seasonal cake and cappuccino.
“We will continue to revisit and tweak this program to keep it fresh and relevant,” Ridgeway said. “I would like to introduce some items for people to cook at home with—homemade seasoning mixes, cocktail bases, meat cures, etc.” HB