Restaurateur Chris Jarosz has done his share of lobbying in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., through his involvement with the local chapter of the National Restaurant Association. Now, the owner of Broderick Roadhouse, Saddle Rock and other eateries is connecting to lawmakers in a whole new way: through their stomachs.
Jarosz and business partners Jim and Jenn Crabbe recently won a contract to take over food and beverage services in the State Capitol, offering a trio of new dining options to politicians, staffers and the roughly 1 million visitors who enter the historic building each year.
“It’s a way to be in front of a lot of people in our political world who make important decisions that affect how we do business,” says Jarosz, adding that he’s excited to introduce a farm-to-fork ethos into the Capitol’s food offerings.
“Here in Sacramento, we’re trying to speak to the world and say, ‘This is where you should travel to experience the best ingredients.’ I felt like the Capitol was just a great place to speak to that,” he explains. “People come here from all over the world.”
The operation includes a basement restaurant with cafeteria-style dining and grab-and-go options, a coffee shop and an Internet lounge-style area where Jarosz envisions lobbyists and others lingering in between meetings or hearings.
Expect to see at least one kind of hamburger on the restaurant menu—“I’ll definitely get in trouble if I don’t serve a burger”—as well as pizza by the slice and, in a nod to the food truck that gave Jarosz his start, a Wicked ’Wich sandwich. Chef Dan Watterson, who recently relocated to Sacramento after cooking for Vice President Joe Biden and other political luminaries at Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C., will serve as executive chef.
Jarosz says the basement kitchen is being overhauled “down to bare walls,” in part to address the health violations that plagued the last vendors. “Everything’s being gutted and redone. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we don’t have any problems like that.”
No jaded industry veteran, Jarosz is delighted at the prospect of political deals being hammered out over one of his meals.
“When I walk through that building and I see the architecture, it’s a humbling experience to be able to serve in the Capitol,” says Jarosz. “I feel really honored to be the guy that got a chance to do it.”