Sergio’s Caffé has reopened at its new location, 109 Mill St. in Grass Valley, with the help of a $210,000 loan from the city.
Sergio Martignago said the money has been used to invest in equipment and operating capital.
Martignago opened his restaurant in a much smaller space, 154 Mill St., in November 2002 and made the decision to expand to the new location down the street in 2012. The conversion required a lot of work, including building a commercial kitchen and a handicapped-accessible bathroom.
Sergio’s Caffé now features additional seating capacity, a bar, outdoor dining and room for musical performers.
The restaurant’s website lists six employees with full-time jobs, not including Martignago and his wife, Lena. As previously reported, creating jobs was a requirement of the loan.
“Because of the improvements, we hope that we’ll be able to double our business — at least,” said Lena.
Lena is very happy with the restaurant’s new location, as well as with the significant cosmetic improvements made possible with the city’s money.
“I actually feel like a queen on the throne,” Lena said, “I even got compliments about how I look young and pretty again because this place makes us look good.”
The Martignagos are extremely thankful to the Grass Valley community that not only financed the move but also helped them transport their kitchen equipment to the new address in a surprise outpouring of public support.
“Our friends came and they brought their children, and their children brought their friends,” Lena said. “Our customers showed up unexpectedly to help us. They brought trucks and vehicles, and they helped us pack everything and bring it to the new restaurant. We literally moved in two days … Without (the community’s) help, it would not have happened.”
The restaurant’s crew faced challenges last week during a soft opening, working out the kinks created from moving into a new space. Staff was having trouble locating various pieces of kitchen equipment that had been packed away during the move, Sergio said.
“We told very few people that we were opening,” he said the day after the official opening.
“Mostly people just walked by or called. We’re still being kind of secretive. We want to make everybody happy from day one — and if we get a big crowd, that will make it hard.”
A few days later, things were starting to come together for the restaurant staff. Vital pieces of equipment had been located, and the Martignagos were feeling more confident about their ability to provide a positive experience for customers.
“We found everything, and things are settling down,” Lena said Thursday. “Even one day made a big difference.”
To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.