Born in San Jose, California, Brian Crawford spent most of his life in Pennsylvania, where he was first introduced to the hospitality sector in high school. Crawford worked at a local pizza place, which inspired his love of the restaurant business. “I loved the energy of the job,” says Brian. “I loved seeing the inner workings of the kitchen, interacting with our diners, both new and regulars. I truly enjoyed working there.” Ultimately, this led him to pursue a career in food. Brian started working for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in September 2012 as an opening bartender at the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia. “I had the opportunity to see how an establishment of this kind operated and what resonated with our guests and community.”
After moving back to the west coast, Brian joined the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in January 2020 as General Manager of Food and Beverage, where he works alongside a vibrant team to introduce various activations for guests and locals. “Each Kimpton restaurant is different, and I truly appreciate that. They play to each Chef’s strengths and empower their creativity. Here at Revival, we really had an opportunity in the market to lean into the city’s farm-to-fork culture and we always change what we are doing, from seasonal menus, to creating incredible dining offerings such as our Revival on the Terrace igloo dining experience, which we’ll be bringing back for the fall.”
Brian hosts regular live music sets spotlighting the city’s local up-and-coming artists on the hotel’s outdoor rooftop bar, Revival, as well as a weekly “Pink Wednesdays” special drink menu, where a portion of proceeds are donated to the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. “When I was younger, I wasn’t aware of the local resources I had access to, and I think providing support to the younger generation is incredibly important,” he says. “I always like to get involved with LGBT centers locally because making a direct impact in your community goes a long way.”
Where are the coolest places to go for cocktails?
I’m a big fan of the Shady Lady Saloon (1409 R Street. Tel: 916-231-9121. www.shadyladybar.com) on R Street. Inside offers a cozy, candlelit atmosphere with some great craft cocktails (if you are feeling adventurous), as well as a nice classic selection (with a twist). My favorite cocktail is the Sacramento classic a White Linen. It’s slightly sweet but with a kick, and very refreshing after a long day; the perfect choice to kickstart the night. The location is right in the middle of quite a few bars and restaurants, so it’s a favorite local spot for me and my friends to get the night going.
If you’re looking for a great after-work crowd, a place I love is the Red Rabbit (2718 J St. Tel: 916-706-2275. www.theredrabbit.net). Their seasonal menu is always using that one ingredient that makes you tilt your head when you read it, but you love it once you taste it (think carrot jam). The bartenders also have an extensive knowledge if you just aren’t sure what you want, and they will create that perfect drink you wish you thought of yourself.
What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner in the city?
I would definitely say Paragary’s (1401 28th Street, Tel: 916-457-5737. www.paragarysmidtown.com) for a romantic and intimate dinner. It’s a nice spot for a little date night. It has a great outdoor space where you can enjoy delicious wine or cocktails with some bites, or sit inside for a romantic dinner for two. The restaurant features an extensive, regional wine list, so you will always find something you like or have been looking to try. Entrees and desserts are great to share as well. I definitely recommend ordering the giant filled ravioli with short rib & burrata. This dish is super-flavorful and not too heavy (which leaves room for dessert). Speaking of which, you can’t go wrong with the Flourless Chocolate Cake. It is rich, creamy and definitely will help curb that chocolate craving for at least a few days.
Another option is Waterboy (2000 Capitol Ave, Tel: 916-498-9891. www.waterboyrestaurant.com), which offers a very refined but approachable menu. What I love about Waterboy is that they really utilize local farms and vendors, and the menu is always changing. The atmosphere is intimate and fun, not stuffy. My recommendation? Order the Halibut and Scallops. The local, fresh vegetables (carrots, asparagus) and the Saffron-Caper butter sauce really push this to a new level in flavor (and leaves just enough room for their infamous Mexican Chocolate “Chocoflan” Cake). Trust me!
Who serves the greatest weekend brunch in town?
For brunch, you can never go wrong at The Porch (1815 K Street, Tel: 916-444-2423. www.theporchrestaurantandbar.com). I am a big fan of southern food, and The Porch doesn’t disappoint. I recommend ordering the Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp & Grits as well as my ultimate favorite, Biscuits & Gravy. The Executive Chef, Jon Clemons, has a knack for pairing some southern classics with a modern twist, such as his Meatloaf and Eggs being made with house ground brisket. And the pastry chef, Kari Hawley, has something that everyone will like, especially her Vegan Hummingbird Cake.
What are the hottest shows in town, and how do I get tickets?
For local artists, I like the B Street Theatre (2700 Capitol Avenue, Tel: 9160443.5300. www.bstreettheatre.org). They have a lot of family-friendly shows, which comes in handy when my 8-year-old niece comes to town. The B Street Theatre was founded in 1986 by actor Timothy Busfield, who wanted a venue that the whole family could enjoy, as well as a place for local playwrights to display their work.
For a bigger show (think Broadway), I like the Broadway at Music Circus (1419 H Street, Tel: 916-557-1999. www.broadwaysacramento.com). National tours come through such as Hamilton and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and the theater has a very nice, intimate vibe and, frankly, not a bad seat in the house.
The Guild Theater (2828 35th Street, Tel: 916-905-7024. www.sthope.org) is also a great spot to catch a classic movie, a lecture, or a comedy show featuring some up-and-coming artists from the Sacramento and surrounding areas. It is also a stone’s throw away from some great restaurants and bars for pre- and post-show libations, so the location is convenient. Our guests end up loving this theater.
What museums are a must see for visitors?
The California State Railroad Museum (125 I Street, Tel: 916-323-9280. www.californiarailroad.museum) is a must visit here in Sacramento. The museum provides an in-depth and extensive history of the California Railroad system, right in Old Sac. Another one of my favorites is the Crocker Art Museum (216 O Street, Tel: 916-808-7000. www.crockerart.org), which holds permanent collections of Asian, African, and Oceanic art, ceramics, and photography. The Museum dedicated the entire first floor as an education center, and hosts all kinds of exhibitions, events and programs. I’m also a fan of the Sacramento Zoo (930 W Land Park Drive, Tel: 916-808-5888. www.saczoo.org), where you can book a Giraffe encounter and feed the giraffes!
Which guided tours do you recommend most often to your guests?
Personally, I am a big fan of just walking around the city, especially in Midtown. It gives our guests the opportunity to be truly immersed in Sacramento’s culture and see little local shops, bakeries, and galleries that you would miss on any other tours.
As a self-described “foodie”, I am also a fan of the Sacramento Food Tour (www.sacramentofood.tours). They change up the stops frequently, and you get to try some local places, and also hear from chefs and owners about the history of the space, while enjoying some snacks and drinks.
My favorite stop is Odd Cookie Bakery (1015 9th Street, Tel: 916-228-4709. www.oddcookiebakery.com). I have a crazy sweet tooth, and I have been known to make the trip there just for their Oreo Thicker Than A Snicker Cookie (you can thank me later). They also have a great cocktail selection to bring out your inner child (Maple Candied Bacon Old Fashioned? Yes, please).