The Capitol’s sixth-floor cafeteria could reopen by March, according to Jon Waldie, chief administrative officer to the Assembly Rules Committee.
“We’re in discussions with another vendor,” Waldie said. He declined to name the vendor, but said it is local and not a chain.
The Capitol has traditionally had two cafeterias, the sixth-floor location and the larger, generally busier, basement cafeteria. Both have been run by the Barajas family, owners of several local restaurants for two-decades.
According to cafeteria manager Victor Barajas, the upstairs cafeteria was only open when the legislature was in session, while the basement location is open nearly year round. They closed the sixth-floor location when session ended in December, but decided not to reopen it.
“It just wasn’t pulling in enough money,” Barajas said. “We don’t feel that the Capitol has enough foot traffic to contain a second cafeteria.”
The Barajas family is also recovering from losing their lease on the 8th street location that held their Texas Mexican restaurant. It was closed in October due to construction for the downtown redevelopment project championed by the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings. The Barajas family was reported to have offered the only bid for running the cafeterias back in late 2001.
Barajas said they moved their employees to the downstairs cafeteria, which had been understaffed anyway. The downstairs cafeteria is now staffed by up to 12 people each day, up from eight when they were running both cafeterias. It’s open every weekday starting at 7:30 a.m.
“We’re a family business,” Barajas said. “We hate to lay people off.”
While the upstairs location was valued by some staffers because of it’s convenience, there is talk of using the space for some other purpose. Barajas said he had heard talk of a Capitol weight room. But most of the speculation has centered on turning the location into office space to fit the Capitol’s ever-growing roster of legislative staff.
“It’s always being evaluated, but there are no plans for that at this point,” Waldie said.