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East Sac's 'Opa! Opa!' skirts impromptu closure with 'miracle' location in Midtown

Phil Courey thought his days as a restaurant owner were done after minimum wage hikes pushed his business to close, but a miracle location might keep him in business

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — East Sacramento's Opa! Opa! thought pressure from an aggressive minimum wage hike spelled the end of the longtime Sacramento eatery, but, through some luck, strategy and hard work, the owner believes he has found a way to keep the doors open.

“I never thought that I’d get back into the business, but the bottom line is, I got three children to take care of... I need to follow through and make it happen,” said Phil Courey, owner of Opa! Opa!.

A routine trip to drop off his daughter at a dance class turned into a fortuitous second chance. By happenstance, he made a call about a building in the area, got someone on the other line, and was able to lock down a new location that cost less in rent than his current spot.

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“I didn’t know I’d ever find such a thing, but, through a lot of prayer and thought and meditation and thought of our customers - new and old - miracles do happen,” Courey said.

The last two to three years were a struggle, Courey explained. Costs, such as the minimum wage, kept going up, but he wasn't making enough money to keep up with the changes.  

“If I didn’t have three children, I would have closed three (or) four years ago,” Courey said.

While minimum wage increases aren't going anywhere, Opa! Opa!'s new location will cut Courey's costs substantially. His new rent is roughly a one-third of what he's been paying in East Sacramento.

With the drop in rent costs, he'll also be bringing along some of his longtime staff members, who've been with him for up to 10 years. The new location saves the restaurant and keeps some of his dedicated employees with a weekly wage.

“I’ll be able to potentially achieve the same or more in sales, which means I’ll actually have a living wage myself,” Courey said.

The restaurant will stay open at its current East Sacramento location until the big move happens, Courey said. He expects the transition to finish up between the end of February and mid-March.

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