Sizzler becomes Ramona Valley Grill to focus on wine region

By Karen Brainard

Owners of a longtime Ramona restaurant are re-positioning their dining establishment to better suit the local wine industry and those who visit the tasting rooms.

Adam Sullivan holds a menu with the new Ramona Valley Grill logo. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Adam and Karen Sullivan, owners of Sizzler at 344 Main St., will no longer operate it as a franchise and have renamed their restaurant Ramona Valley Grill. The name was chosen, Adam Sullivan said, for the wine region: Ramona Valley Viticultural Area.

Sullivan said Ramona needs restaurants that support the winemaking, and as a Sizzler franchise he was limited in what he could do.

The restaurant owner is familiar with the wine industry as he spent time in France, and his in-laws, Don and Joyce Kohorst, own Pyramid Winery in Ramona. The Sizzler was opened by the Kohorsts in 1988. The Sullivans began operating it just over three years ago.

Although he had already incorporated a few subtle changes, Sullivan said, “As the weeks progress, we’ll make quite a few changes.”

He switched to certified Angus beef and will upgrade the chicken and fish. The new menu, he said, will emphasize grilled meats and complement the Ramona Valley wines.

“We really are focused on quality,” said Sullivan, adding that patrons will not see much of a change in price.

By no longer being part of a franchise, Sullivan said he is able to prepare more dishes from scratch so diners will be better-tasting, fresher meals.

Ramona Valley Grill will continue to have a salad bar, but will add appetizers and “sharable desserts” to the menu. Sharable desserts, a new trend, are large desserts that come with extra utensils for all at a table to enjoy, explained Sullivan. Also on the menu will be family meals and panini sandwiches for lunch, said the owner.

Another new trend that Sullivan plans to install is a wine machine that will allow customers to purchase one-ounce samples of wines or a full glass. The emphasis will be on award-winning local wines.

As for décor, Sullivan said he plans to put up TV screens to air sports in the family-style part of the restaurant.

“We want to make it an active lively environment,” he said.

In January, he intends to focus on the banquet room and transition it to fine dining on weekends only, which he hopes to have ready by spring 2013. The full-service restaurant would essentially be what’s known as the trendy “pop-up restaurant,” he said, and will feature white linen tablecloths and premium-prepared foods with locally-produced organic items.

Sullivan said he has not decided on a name for the weekend-only restaurant and noted that the banquet room will still be available for meetings during the week.

With all the changes, Sullivan hopes to not only appeal to more locals, but also to draw people “up the hill” to dine and sample wines.

“The emphasis over the long run will be on wineries,” he said. Envisioning Ramona as a wine tourist area, Sullivan said, “We want to be part of that pleasant surprise.”

Related posts:

  1. Sizzler of Ramona: Past, Present and Future
  2. Creating a Ramona Wine Valley identity
  3. 3rd Street Grill moves to Daniel’s West
  4. Wine and beer bar opens in Ramona Business Barn
  5. Ramona Valley wines bring home the Gold from Finger Lakes International competition

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Sep 26 2012. Filed under Business, Business Profiles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

10 Comments for “Sizzler becomes Ramona Valley Grill to focus on wine region”

  1. BeeBee Wilson

    Wow!!! I am so very excited to see this change!! I have always patronized Sizzler, but from everything I’ve read, its only going to enhance my experience in a positive way. I love the staff there, hopefully that doesn’t change. Wine, fresh organic food, better meats, fine dining……………. okay you had me at wine :) . By the way, Karen is awesome and always goes the extra mile when I am there with my hubby, or when its the monthly group of ladies I go with. Maybe a tasting room/bar area that carries all of our local ramona wines in the future????

  2. brian

    It aggravates me to no end to see a NEWSPAPER not able to spell check their publications. I am by no means a great writer or even spell very well, but I am at least able to spell normal words correctly. Shareable has an 'e' in it, and it's not diners, it's dinners; just to name a few.

  3. Maria Arroyo

    Congratulations! This is wonderful news for Ramona. We've always enjoyed Sizzler and the Sullivan's have always been a great support to the community. This will enable them to bring Ramona a wonderful new place to feature great local foods and wines.

  4. Sue

    The theme seems confused. Is is a fine dining, wine and steak reastaurant or a sports bar and grill? You can't have both. And a seperate reseraurant in the back?? That makes no sense at all. While a self-serve wine machine sounds cool, it is far from elegant or fine dining. Tasting rooms are for wineries, not restaurants. Here you would expect to be served a wine of your choice in a glass at the table to accompany your meal. There are too many "tendy" additions, pick one and run with it. The shareable desserts (thanks by the way for the definition because that was really confusing) are not a good idea because you force people to share (maybe they want different desserts) and the large portion is too much for couples (so they just won't order anything). It looks like you have good intentions, but maybe need some help reining in the concept to a workable (and profitable) plan. Good luck.

  5. Gwen

    My husband and I stopped in last week for lunch and some of the changes were already evident and very welcome. Although the rest of the changes sound interesting (if a bit uneven), I think the TV idea is very bad. One reason we went to Sizzler was because even though the food was mediocre, it was one of the few places in Ramona that offered a cozy, quiet and unhurried dining experience where my husband and I could actually sit and chat while we ate. If it turns into a sports bar, we'll be doing our dining out at Da Tuna Shack, which still supports human communication among diners. When I want a meal, I want good food, good service and a nice atmosphere; if I want an 'active lively environment', I'll go to a baseball game. Very, very disappointed in the decision to put TVs in this restaurant.

  6. Leah

    When was this article published? It would be good to have the date referenced at the beginning. Thanks! Looking forward to something new and different in Ramona!

  7. Clough

    We visited our granchildren in Ramona the past 4 years and have enjoyed going to Sizzler twice a month. It was agreat place to get the family together and enjoy a meal. If the new Ramona Grill turns in toi a sports bar we wll have to take our dining get togethers to another location. Will miss Sizzler very much.

  8. Born on 11th st.

    Used to love the Sizzler, I am apparently not going to the new place. I am a life long resident of Ramona, Born here, and the way the town is catering only to tourists makes me Ill. Personally I do not Drink wine and trying to run Ramona on Alcohol upsets me.
    There are other places to eat.

  9. Marie

    I love the idea of promise that your concept has. The restaurant has plenty of space to sanction off designated areas and create new dining environments . Setting the banquet room apart and making it into a fine dining area "weekends only" is not a bad idea. I like idea of a mini sports bar with a couple tv's with sports on in one of the back areas, that way the main dining area is still nice and cozy quiet.
    When it was Sizzler, a main draw was that it was a calm restaurant where my husband and I could relax. But it was sooooo quiet, I felt that everyone could hear every word I said. The place needs a little livening up. It is a good idea to attract the young, hipster crowd that it seems you are targeting, and large deserts for all to share and self serve wines are a fun idea! I look forward to trying it out.. And oh, we love to eat out and you had great hours- I have tried going out only to find what I want is closed! Recently found Da Tuna Shack is closed on Sundays for special events only. Um, prime time to go to dinner. I guess more people will be coming to you!
    Just one thing- landscaping . At first driveby (after the new sign was up) I thought the restaurant had tanked because the weeds have taken over and it needs a bit of love. All in all, can't wait to try fine dining night!

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