Monday Dec 21 2009
Sienna restaurant planned for La Borgata
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
Couple to open eatery where high-end Masque once operated
After a year’s delay, Masque Ristorante opened as the flagship tenant at La Borgata in El Dorado Hills with much fanfare. Then it quickly and quietly went out of business almost three years ago. Spacious at 9,500 square feet, including a 3,500-square-foot kitchen, the Masque property has been an empty reminder of the tough go most retail businesses have experienced in the Tuscan-designed La Borgota center. Gone was the only first-class, white tablecloth restaurant in town, until the opening a year ago of Bistro 33 in Town Center. Now the generous space is being un-Masqued and will open in late January as Sienna, named for the paprika-like color, not the city in Italy’s Tuscany. The menu, despite the restaurant’s name, will not be Italian but rather California cuisine, “with an Asian twist.” Its main competition will be Town Center’s Bistro 33, with prices at a similar level and at about half what Masque charged. “The key is to be affordable. Our price range will be $9 to $14 for lunch, $12 to $24 for dinner off the same menu,” said Mark Platt, 49, Sienna co-owner with his wife Karoline, 46. The Platts, who live in Folsom, are making a heavy investment in remodeling the old Masque, planning to extend the bar into the former Cantineta, with tables and booths in front of the retained open fire pizza stove and two television sets installed in what will be called “the lounge area.” Dining tables also will be set up in the rest of what was the Cantineta, with a French door divider to close it off for private dining and provide a venue for up to 35 that will be equipped with audio/visual equipment for small meetings and conferences. Just off the room, “chef”s tables” for 12 will be available inside Angelo’s dream kitchen for special chef dinner bookings. A former private dining room near the main entrance that was removed by the prior owners to expand the bar area will be rebuilt for VIP dining. Colors throughout the former eatery are being changed to sienna to eliminate its former “old-world Tuscan” atmosphere. The Platts also plan to make fuller use of the outside patio dining by the outdoor fireplace off the main dining room. The former lightly used patio area off the Cantineta also will have outside tables. Previously, guests entering the restaurant from the main parking lot often came in through the south bar entrance or the Cantineta. Wrought-iron railing enclosing the west side outdoor patio and its open fireplace will be expanded to include and close off the outside bar entrance area, forcing guests to enter the restaurant through its north main entrance. Sienna will be open from 11 am to 11 pm Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner and on Sunday will host a 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. separate-menu brunch and dinner menu. The brunch will cost $19.95 and will include unlimited champagne. The Platts have narrowed their interviews of chefs to two and are expected to make a final decision soon. Plans are for wine dinners and tastings, as well as cooking demonstrations. Tatia Davenport, owner of The Spa at La Borgata, is working with the couple on developing a spa menu and is selling gift certificates for Sienna dinners. “The opening of Sienna is welcome news,” she said. “The community will enjoy a high quality, affordable meal choice in a warm and welcoming environment.” The spa will offer clients a Sienna meal between spa services and spa events will be catered by the restaurant. “As an original La Borgata tenant, we’re thrilled to have a new business join, bringing more energy and excitement to the center,” Davenport added. Why such a heavy investment in such a huge space, given the still slogging national and regional economies? Actually, said Mark Platt, “the economy made me realize this as an opportunity to pick up a $5 million restaurant for a very reasonable price and to capitalize on someone else’s mistakes.” The spousal duo hopes to draw customers not only from El Dorado Hills but also Folsom, Cameron Park and Granite Bay, as well as travelers to and from the Red Hawk casino in Placerville. The Platts are bringing in as general manager Mark Fucci, who worked with Mark Platt in Roseville, where Platt was vice president of development for Crush 29 and developed Suede Blue, both restaurants in Roseville. Platt also was involved in the opening of and is an investor in the P.F. Chang restaurant there. Before that he spent 10 years as operations director of Chart House restaurants. Platt is the current president of the California Restaurant Association and oversees all operations at Sienna while Karoline handles marketing and public relations. About 90 employees will be hired. The Platts are sole owners of Sienna, which has no outside investors.