Since its closing in June, Murietans have hoped for a quick rebound for the Sloughhouse Inn. Rumors in recent weeks said it would reopen, run by a couple with two Sacramento restaurant successes to their credit. Here's a conversation with half of that restaurant team.
The Sloughhouse Inn, to be renamed Meadowlands, will be reopened this fall and run by Ron and Terri Gilliland, who made a name in the last 13 years with Lucca Restaurant and Bar, at 16th and J streets, and Roxy Restaurant and Bar, on Fair Oaks Boulevard near Fulton Avenue.
Their restaurants have been well received by patrons, reviewers and social media.
Terri Gilliland spoke on the phone Thursday while driving from the Gillilands’ Lucky Dog Ranch in Dixon to another day of work in Sloughhouse. She talked about the new restaurant's menu and decor, trying to strike a balance between the old and the new and changing the name of the business.
The conversation has been lightly edited, mostly due to challenges with the phone connection.
Terri and Ron Gilliland at their Lucky Dog Ranch in Dixon.
What was the appeal of Sloughhouse? Other restaurants there have had a tough time of it, as you know.
They sure have. And that is concerning, but honestly, I had never had the opportunity to visit there until my friend Betsy (Hite, the previous operator) opened it this last time and she invited us on opening week.
Ron and I sat there and just looked at the building and thought it was just gorgeous. We just fell in love with the bones of the place and thought that wood ceiling was an exceptionally beautiful ceiling.
I studied history in college. I’ve always been enamored of Western history. It just felt like this really wonderful place.
We are certainly aware of the challenges of it being a little bit out there, proximity wise, but in this day and age, I think that’s kind of a cool thing. I think there’s so much activity happening in midtown and in Sacramento, obviously very positive and a lot of energy – there are also a lot of choices.
So, in a negative sense, it is a bit of a drive. In a positive sense, you get to get out of town and you get to go to this peaceful place. It is a lovely drive. That 10 miles from Sacramento is not a bad drive at all.
It also opens up to all these rural neighborhoods and Amador County, which I think are a little bit underserved in terms of food and wine and restaurant establishments.
So, we’ll give it a go, keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.
What sort of menu are you planning?
We’re so grateful that we have this opportunity to have our own ranch. Ron and I both grew up on ranches.
This gives us another opportunity to feature some of our natural-raised beef. We did just this year plant a rather large garden, so we’ll use some of our own vegetables. When we moved to the Dixon-Davis area, I started planting fruit trees, so I hope to have a pretty substantial orchard and a good variety of fruits. So we’ll have fruits, vegetables and meats that we can serve.
We just want to offer good, delicious food. I think one of the components to Lucca and Roxy that we’ve been successful with is good value. We’re not going to charge outrageous prices.
Certainly we’ll have steak and potato dishes, and things like our Elvis burger at Roxy, which is our Lucky Dog Ranch ground beef, and then Danny, our chef, does this really spicy chili molasses bacon that he puts on that. And that’s been a real winner at Roxy.
We’re debating crossing over, adding menu items from Lucca or Roxy – or not. We haven’t made a definitive decision on that yet.
We’re going to do a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
So, again, we’ll offer really wholesome, healthy, great food, taking advantage of what we’re able to produce, along with that wonderful area – Michael Passmore and his trout and fish that he produces, Davis Ranch, and the bounty of great wines and beers coming out of the area.
We really want to home in on that local element, including our own production of beef and vegetables and potentially fruit.
Do you see the menu or the feel of the new restaurant being a departure from Lucca and Roxy? Will your Lucca and Roxy fans think it’s familiar?
I hope it feels familiar but different. We do want to do something different. It’s challenging for me right now. I’m doing a bit of redecorating, and I’m trying so hard to keep the historical aspects of it while modernizing, especially making some parts of it more functional.
But I’m a little bit worried it might be a little bit elegant looking to some people, as opposed to the old Sloughhouse Inn. From the direction of food, we want it to be even more casual than Lucca and Roxy. I hope someday we can use that lawn space with picnic tables and do some really great music offerings and all that.
It’s certainly going to have a bit more of a kick-back, Western attitude to it, I hope.
Do you plan to use the back patio?
Of course. We were just in love with that. It needs a lot of work (laughs).
Ron and I, prior to coming to Sacramento, lived and worked in the Napa Valley, and the building and the atmosphere and the country setting reminds us of so many of the places we either worked at or dined at in Napa. It’s just beautiful.
That patio is a wonderful opportunity. I’m out there working daily now, and people will roll in and just ask if they can sit on the patio and relax, it’s such a beautiful setting.
So you’re being careful that your decorating isn’t too “elegant.” It’s a 19th century structure and a 19th century place. What is that balance you strike there?
I’m not sure yet. One of the things I think I have always brought to the partnership of Ron and I in these businesses is, he’s got this wonderful, practical and pretty well-honed business sense, and I’ve established that over the years as well, but I’m the creative part. So I love the opportunity that I have, creatively, to do something there.
The history of the building is so remarkable it could be made into a Hollywood movie, I think. It’s just full of characters and really, really interesting things that went on in that area.
So I’m trying to find the balance of honoring that, respecting that, keeping that, while updating it and making it comfortable.
It needed new carpet; it needs new paint; it has those old, kind of cottage-cheese-like walls that are being restuccoed now. The exterior will be painted. It will have a new roof on it.
And then the kitchen was pretty dated, so a lot of little projects are going on there, making sure it’s all functional.
We’re not doing any structural or dramatic or big changes, but just making it pretty and hopefully comfortable. And a little bit of an equestrian feel, I guess is the way I would describe the decor.
Is early November the target for your opening?
It is. As I said, the scope of work isn’t anything drastic. It’s just a lot of cleaning up and paint and such.
We’re working this afternoon on menu development. We’re going to have pizza there. The pizza oven is actually coming from Italy. So that will be something that I think is maybe unique to that area.
I hope that we’re just a nice addition to the restaurants out there.
Did you give a lot of thought about changing the name to Meadowlands?
One of the unfortunate things with social media especially, and sites like Yelp, is you type in a business name and everything comes back that’s relevant to that name.
I think nothing but the world of anyone who puts their heart into trying in this business, so I’m never going to pass any judgment on prior people for what they did or didn’t do well. I just think it has struggled, and now there’s that connection with it, so a name change seemed like a good idea.