Eats for all
Adam Pechal is gregarious, boisterous and talks at the clip of an auctioneer. He is also an award-winning chef, plus the owner and creative spirit behind Midtown’s Tulí Bistro (2031 S Street). And his newest endeavors will certainly put his name on the lips of diners throughout Sacramento: a new restaurant and catering facility at the historic Sterling Hotel.
How does Tulí fit in to the Sacramento food scene?
I wanted to open a restaurant where I wanted to eat. I’m a really great eater. And being born and raised in Sacramento, I feel I have an insight into Sacramento and its dining habits and what it needs. I kind of put my ego aside for the concept of Tulí, and I think we really give people what they want. Sure, we serve sweetbreads, but we also serve pepperoni pizza and crispy-chicken sandwiches at lunch. There’s a little something for everyone.
Has being a hometown boy helped you?
Absolutely. At Tulí, our biggest success is the demographic. It’s as wide as it can be, from tattooed and 20 to 85. Sacramento is growing as a culinary city. I’ve seen a lot of outsiders come from San Francisco or other places and try these cutting-edge concepts without any regard for the community, and when their concept doesn’t work, they think Sacramento diners’ tastes are simple. I prefer to give the community what they want and educate them as well.
I see you’ve built a smoker on wheels.
The trailer is called Smoked-Out by Tulí. It’s a smoker and a wood-burning oven. I enjoy being able to produce restaurant-quality food in any location regardless of the resources, and my wood-burning oven is irreplaceable. We also wanted to dabble in smoking meats and true barbecue. So we talked to our pizza-oven guys who are starting to produce ovens out of their shop. The guy who built it thinks it’s the best thing he’s ever done. When we debuted it recently in front of Tulí, people were stopping in the street.
So this smoker is going to change the way Sacramentans eat?
Yes and no. It gives us the opportunity to do what we do well in more venues. Plenty of people in town say we have the best pizza around. So to get that in a mobile capacity is a huge asset. It allows us to do more options with catering, but we will create events that are centered on only the trailer. The ability to pull this thing up in a park and pop some kegs open, get some bands together—that will happen somewhere in Sacramento. Pizzapalooza or something.
Do you want to take over the local restaurant scene?
No. There are a lot of other guys in town doing great things, and a lot of us are friends, and that’s what’s really cool. If my staff wants to open restaurants, then I want to help them. I want to create a real restaurant group. I didn’t always get the opportunities I thought I deserved, so now that I have, I want to help other young talent. Nothing makes me happier than supporting those people.
Tell me about your new restaurant with The Sterling Hotel.
We just finalized a deal with The Sterling Hotel at 13th and H streets. … Phase one is getting the kitchen approved and running so that we can effectively cater the ballroom. Right now, the kitchen is not functioning; it’s not approved by the health department. Part of our deal is to get that kitchen up and running.
Will you be exclusive caterers for The Sterling Hotel along with the restaurant?
We’re opening a new restaurant, and we will be the exclusive caterer after honoring pre-existing catering contracts. The ballroom and the restaurant are two separate entities. Tulí and The Sterling Hotel will promote events for the ballroom, so we’re a team. We hope to begin catering operations as early as September 15.
Do you have a name and concept?
The name we like right now is 13, and we hope to open in late November. We plan to expand on the main philosophies of Tulí. Tulí is a neighborhood-bistro concept, but we get classified with Ella [Dining Room and Bar], The Waterboy and Mulvaney’s [Building & Loan]—fine-dining establishments. Now what I want to do is actually come with a concept that is intended to compete with these guys and see where we land.
A little more sophisticated than Tulí?
Yeah, this will be a real special-occasion place—a little more formal. … Now we will open a fine-dining establishment that keeps Tulí’s neighborhood values. We put out great food and great service without making people feel uncomfortable while educating them. I think a lot of fine-dining establishments can scare people off, and that’s something we want to try to improve.