“I was born and raised in Colonial Heights on 53rd Street. The Colonial Theatre (3522 Stockton Boulevard), that’s a special memory in my life! You could see a cartoon, newsreel and double-feature for 50 cents and (sometimes) a can of food, which they donated to local food closets. I remember them showing the Flash Gordon series – one episode each Saturday. You could walk to the theater without your parents and spend the entire afternoon.”
The Colonial Theatre opened in June 1940, known from its earliest days as “The Theatre Beautiful”. An unusual mixture of Art Moderne and Art Deco, the movie house was designed by Sacramento-based architect Herbert Goodpaster. Purchased by the Santillan family in 1977, the Historic Colonial Theatre provides the community and surrounding area with touring and local musical performances, film festivals, concerts, professional and amateur boxing and wrestling, performing arts and stage plays and more. Beautiful murals painted by Mike Sotocono & Son, still flank the left and right of the proscenium.
Suying arrived in Sacramento from South Vietnam in 1974. She worked with new refugees as a translator and provided social services both in Sacramento and England. She opened Vinh Phat (6105 Stockton Boulevard) more than 30 years ago providing jobs for family and other refugees. “From the time when I first started working on Stockton Boulevard, the difference is incredible. It’s improved so much! We were small before. Now we have more than 60 employees and our customers are so loyal!”
According to Suying, Vinh Phat translated means “forever blooming”. This diminutive powerhouse has helped Little Saigon continue blooming.
“My uncle, Angelo, opened Frasinetti’s Fine Foods (4217 Stockton Boulevard) around 1932. During the Prohibition era, it was kind of a speakeasy with shuffleboard and a couple of slot machines; they served ‘soft drinks’. Through the years and into the 1940s it changed from a “tavern” to “liquor and billiards,” and finally to “Fine Foods” in the 1950s. Prices were so cheap back then. The Dinner De Luxe included hors d’oeuvres, entrée, dessert and beverage for $3.75. A box of French pastries was 50 cents!”
Frasinetti’s Fine Foods was sold and remodeled in 1954 as Burich’s Grill & Charcoal Broiler. It was later occupied by the Capitol City Elks Lodge #1147, Boston’s Lounge and, since 1979, A Toucha Class. The neighborhood restaurant, bar and entertainment venue is frequented by guests from around Northern California. Line dancing, live music and DJs includes blues and reggae, top 40s. Recent events have featured Grammy winner R&B performer Jay King and comedian and actor Kevin Hart.
“My husband said, ‘Let’s buy our own restaurant; we won’t have to work so much.’ I still laugh when I think about that. We lived across the street and saw the For Sale sign. It was called Ole’s Coffee Shop back then. We made an offer and they accepted; that was 1969. In the beginning, we changed the name to Alonzo’s and continued using the original menu. Then my husband, Jesse, slowly integrated Mexican options serving tacos and enchilada. We expanded from there. Today, the menu’s about 50/50 Mexican-American and everything is made from scratch. There are many regulars who come every day. Some people say it’s a very special place; you come in as strangers and leave as friends!”
Alonzo’s is open every day except Christmas from 6 a.m. to 8p.m. Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day they close at 4 p.m. so that employees can be with their families. The diner has a loyal clientele as witnessed by the breakfast crowds.
“I love this neighborhood and always have. My husband’s family lived on San Francisco Boulevard and we were married there in 1942. This was the county then; streets had names, not numbers. I remember one street was Mariposa and one was Ventura. We were gone for a couple of years during the war, but then moved back and built our house in 1945-46. I remember loading the kids in the stroller and walking down the Boulevard clear to Broadway. From here on out there were motels similar to what you’d see on the outskirts of other little towns as you were approaching the city. There use to be a freight train that came up Stockton Boulevard every evening and the kids loved to put pennies on the track. Some of them still had the pennies as adults. “
Ninety-two years young would best describe Pat Calloway!