When La Famiglia owners Jeff Roberts and Leo Forget thought about doing a box dinner benefit, their aspirations were modest. The two caterers have operated out of the Sierra 2 Garden Room kitchen for 27 years.
During the time of COVID-19 sheltering, their business has taken a major hit. The March 12 box dinner was planned to rescue their business.
Judging by the success of Sierra 2’s Porch Picnic dinner sales of 180, they expected to do about the same.
Surprise: They sold 365 dinners. The menu of lasagna (meat or vegetarian), chicken Parmesan, Caesar salad, bread sticks and cannoli was $35 for two dinners.
Leo said he and Jeff felt wonderful about the dinner’s success. As a result, they are planning a second box dinner April 23.
The March 12 dinner allowed neighbors and friends to support the popular business and skip a night of cooking.
According to Jeff, about 100 dinners went to people who live outside the neighborhood. A Viewpoint reporter met diners from Carmichael, the Pocket, Midtown and 65th Street.
“Many orders were for groups,” Jeff said. “We had one group of 10.”
As the dinner pick-up time approached, the assembly line in the Garden Room at Sierra 2 was buzzing. Each order was packed into a grocery bag. Besides the food, which was packed in clam shells and paper boxes, each dinner came with a box of plastic utensils, napkins and baked bread sticks.
“This is the first time we’ve done something of this magnitude,” Jeff said. “Usually we do a buffet. We have done lunch orders with this sort of packing, but they were smaller.”
Some dinners were customized. One chicken Parmesan was prepared with almond flour for a customer with celiac disease. Another omitted the chicken in favor of a double serving of lasagna.
“Dinner was good,” said neighbor Robert Wiens of 26th Street. He and his wife, Jackie, learned about it from the Sierra 2 online newsletter. “I would do it again to support the restaurant. I believe in keeping Sierra 2 going,” Robert said.
The April 23 dinner will feature Chicken Marsala with mushrooms and include Mediterranean penne pasta with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, fresh basil, shaved Parmesan and garlic aioli, a mixed baby green salad, rolls and butter, and vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for dessert.
The minimum order is a dinner kit for two for $35. Additional kits are $17.50 per person. To place an order, call Leo Forget at 916 470-5849. All orders must be prepaid by credit card by April 19. All major credit cards are accepted.
Pickup will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 23, in the parking lot behind Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th St. Enter the parking lot from Fourth Avenue.
To show their appreciation for making the March dinner a huge success, the caterers will raffle a gift basket, including wine, to one person who purchases a spring dinner kit. The gift basket will be presented when the winner picks up the dinner kit April 23.