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Slocum House Owner Hopes to Reopen By June

Slocum House property owner John Bansemer is planning to reopen the building to a new operator, but what that business will be is still being explored.

Walking by Slocum House in Fair Oaks Village, the less informed couldn't be blamed for assuming the fine dining restaurant was still in operation. However, walking inside, paints a different picture.

The floors are covered with plastic, protecting them from sawdust and plaster. Bare walls expose insulation and brand new windows. The Slocum House is under renovation and property owner John Bansemer is hopeful to have the building ready for business as early as June.

That type of business, however, remains to be seen, Bansemer explained.

It's been more than one year since Slocum House, a venerable Fair Oaks institution under Bansemer's parent's (Ken and Pat) ownership for more than 30 years, served its last meal.

"I still get calls from people saying, 'I didn't know it was closed,'" Bansemer said.

In March 2011, The Sacramento Bee reported former Slocum House financial consultant Jack Kandola and business partner Joe Wittren lost their lease for the hilltop location, explaining business had been down since 2009 during the failing economic times many faced.

"2007 and 2008 were tight," Bansemer said. "It was tough on a lot of people."

Bansemer explained it was a little more complicated than diminishing returns (read: unpaid rent) that lead to the decision to terminate the former operator's lease. Decisions were made without the property owner's approval or knowledge - decisions Bansemer believes that should never have been made. This time around, things would be different, he explained.

For the past three months Bansemer's brother David has been steadily restoring the building's interior to its previous historically accurate state, ensuring the building is ready for whatever comes next. That means reinstalling a certain type of carpet, repairing the roof, replacing dry wall and completely restoring a room that had been converted without the family's approval.

"It's got good bones," David said, referring to the building's foundation.

Bansemer hasn't made any definitive decisions as to what type of business will open in the Slocum House, if it's a restaurant at all.

"When it reopens, it will be fit and finished," Bansemer said.

A changing local market

Right now Bansemer is entertaining a number of ideas, including a new type of fine dining restaurant. However, the local market has changed.

A number of fine dining restaurants in Fair Oaks have opened in the time Slocum House has been closed. Off the top of his head, Bansemer rattled off restaurants like  and , just to name a couple. Competing with those types of restaurants could present Slocum House with challenges that didn't exist at the height of the restaurant's success.

It will boil down to synergy, Bansemer explained. Of the elements that made Slocum House such a success was having a fiery and talented executive chef in the form of Gabriel Glasier and an operator that could handle the wild type.

Finding an operator who has an understanding of that evolving local market is also fundamental, Bansemer said.

"The operator will need to know the evolution of fine dining and its local market," Bansemer said.

Fine dining is just one of the ideas Bansemer is entertaining. He believes the building could be just as viable a location for wedding and corporate banquets and a center for other events, including cooking classes.

"I get to be the broker to create ideas for potential operators," Bansemer said.

Asked if he had found that right type of operator, Bansemer was coy.

"We might possibly have someone, but not yet."

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steven danford April 05, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Well done story Josh, thanks to the Bansemer Boys (and Dad) for taking on this project. I know you all have other things going on in many different parts of the world! The Village of Fair Oaks NEEDS The Slocum House to return to glory!
Michelle Lehman April 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Amen!
Paula Sugarman April 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM
It will be good to have Slocum House up and running again. I'll be waiting anxiously to learn what the new plan will be and invite the Fair Oaks community to join me in supporting Slocum House in a new success.
Al Canton April 07, 2012 at 05:26 AM
"A number of fine dining restaurants in Fair Oaks have opened in the time Slocum House has been closed. Off the top of his head, Bansemer rattled off restaurants like La Boheme and Maranello Restaurant, just to name a couple." * * * La Bohème has been in the same location for 20 years and to the best of my knowledge owned by the same people... Alex Klaib and Daniel Alézeau.
Sally Runyon April 08, 2012 at 10:07 PM
As a former 'bronco ' and now out of state ...it is so nice to hear of improvements to Fair Oaks. Kudos to Bansemer family. Always a treatt to read The Patch!
Carrie Manhart June 12, 2012 at 08:41 PM
You left out the best new restaurant to open in Fair Oaks yet....Fabian's! It would be wonderful to have something in the Slocum House building that would represent the rich and eclectic history of The Village.
steven danford June 12, 2012 at 09:05 PM
The Story is about The Slocum House, not sure any other restaurants were "left out" for any reason....a new roof is on Slocum and the interior looks fantastic... I looked inside about a week or so ago. The owners know what they have and they understand how important The Slocum is to the Community...

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