Frank Fat’s Celebrates 75th Anniversary and Looks Toward the Future
The block of 8th and L, and downtown in general, has changed immensely over the decades. Businesses have come and gone, people have aged and moved and buildings have been torn down and rebuilt. Frank Fat’s restaurant, however, is a rare exception that has remained a piece of Sacramento history and mastered the changing tides of Downtown Sacramento for 75 years.
Frank Fat originally opened his 8th and L eatery as a Chinese/American restaurant in 1939. The family establishment, the only Sacramento restaurant to receive a James Beard award (the foundation’s prestigious lifetime-achievement “American Classic’s” award in 2013, similar to winning an Academy Award in the film industry), “has continuously evolved, but in a way that properly carries on the family legacy,” according to Frank’s son Jerry Fat. “My father treated everyone the same, no matter if you were governor or a normal citizen. We served and continue to serve good food with good values.”
The “Fat’s Family of Restaurants” has since grown to include the original Downtown location, Fat’s Asia Bistro and Dim Sum bars in Roseville and Folsom, and Fat City Bar and Café in Old Sacramento.
For years, the Frank Fat’s downtown location served as a dining epicenter for political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Jerry Brown and countless lobbyists. It was a go-to place for high-profile meetings and elite dining experiences. However, no matter what the occasion, or who the diner, Frank Fat’s was an eatery made by the people and for the people, and it continues to be that to this day.
Last year, the Frank Fat’s original location hired Sacramento-born chef Mike Lim, a young and talented kitchen master with a fresh and budding background in authentic Chinese delicacy. He even recently studied at the M.Y. China restaurant in San Francisco, which is owned by Martin Yan. Yan, widely known for his television program Yan Can Cook, is credited for bringing authentic Chinese cuisine knowledge to the televisions of mainstream America in the most beloved way.
“I just recently started honing my skills in the kitchen as a Chinese food chef,” says Lim. “It makes so much sense because, well, I am Chinese. It seems like I am getting back to my roots, with an opportunity to expand on recipes and tweak a few things.”
Lim plans to maintain the original Fat’s recipes while obtaining as many local ingredients as possible in line with Sacramento’s “Farm to Fork” revolution.
“I want to make things more seasonal, I want to really emphasize all the area has to offer agriculturally,” Lim says. “However, the idea of being completely ‘farm to fork’ is not realistic. It is important for me to maintain the family tradition and recipes and really bring it out to its full potential. They already do it right here; everything is phenomenal. Bringing some extra creative and seasonal dishes is what I am most looking forward to.”
Mike Lim remembers coming to Frank Fat’s as a kid, and always being aware of its impact and presence in the community.
“Frank Fat’s always had a reputation. It was always a really great treat to be able to go there and dine and just be in its historical presence. I kind of can’t believe that I am here now, and a part of it.”
An evening at Frank Fat’s is truly a unique and timeless experience. While our city is massively transforming right before our eyes, it’s nice to have a place to step back and experience what can simply be described as a classic gem. Cheers to Sacramento’s very own Frank Fat’s restaurant, serving Sacramento for many more decades to come.
A note on Frank Fat’s Famous Banana Cream Pie
It is extremely urgent for everyone in Sacramento to know the greatness of Frank Fat’s banana cream pie. You will never ever taste a banana cream pie as good as this, and if you do, it’s probably because they stole the recipe from Frank himself. The pie has to be at least 6 inches high, with a mound of light and refreshing house-whipped cream. The three layers of heaven consist of a thin and flaky, croissant-like crust that has just the right amount of presence; simple, tasty and functional. There are tons of fresh bananas in that perfect crust, layered into a pudding that serves as a sort of mortar for banana bricks. In short, Frank Fat’s could open up a banana cream pie shop alone, and would be wildly successful.
The Days of Fat’s
For the past seven-and-a-half decades, Frank Fat’s has had a strong presence in the Sacramento community, which they hope to continue for decades to come. Their motto is that one must “be proud of their heritage, be proud of their culture, and always give back to their community.”
In honor of Frank Fat’s 75th anniversary, the family of restaurants will have a “15 Days of Fat’s” contest on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, during which, $75 gift certificates will be hidden around the city from Oct. 1 to 15, 2014. Every day, the restaurant will release a clue to a different location that holds some historical meaning or great significance to the family and their relationship with the city. A $75 gift certificate to any Frank Fat’s location will await the first person to arrive at the location. Good luck!
Everything you need to know about the Sacramento culinary icon can be found at Fatsrestaurants.com. Submerge humbly recommends the honey walnut prawns, Frank’s Style New York Steak, the Shanghai noodles and of course, the famous banana cream pie.