Locals Gather to Drink and Dine at Shangri-la
Diners enjoy the outdoor patio and welcoming atmosphere at Shangri-la, a new restaurant in Fair Oaks Village. Photo by Shaunna Boyd
Sommer Peterson is the owner and general manager of Shangri-la, a new restaurant in Fair Oaks Village that serves elevated comfort food made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Photo by Shaunna Boyd
FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Shangri-la is “a gathering place for amazing food and cocktails where guests can stay awhile and enjoy the amenities,” said owner and general manager Sommer Peterson. The restaurant opened in June and it has already become a destination for locals seeking a unique dining experience.
Peterson described the philosophy as “beautiful food with the highest level of hyper-locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and meats.” Everything is made from scratch with seasonal ingredients. “It’s the epitome of farm to fork,” said Peterson. “That should be an expectation for savvy diners.”
Shangri-la serves an elevated style of comfort food — but instead of the typical entrée selections, the dishes are designed to be shared. “That’s how I like to eat. I want all the flavors,” said Peterson, “I want to try everything.” Peterson said that the family-style experience is more fun: “It’s more social — to break bread and gather around the table. I think it stimulates conversation.”
Along with specially curated food and drinks, Peterson said that creating “a lifestyle vibe involves offering a little bit more.” In addition to the indoor dining room and bar, Shangri-la has seating on the patio with an outdoor bar, fire pits, two bocce ball courts, and a welcoming policy toward friendly dogs and their owners. “We want people to enjoy themselves and know we’re bringing them a beautiful meal,” said Peterson.
After enjoying a meal with friends on the patio of Shangri-la, Rachel Maskell said, “It’s one thing to have a very beautiful space — and they’ve definitely done that, they’ve got the Palm Springs vibe — but the food is actually so good, which makes me super happy. … You know it’s fresh.”
When asked about the meaning of the name, Peterson said, “I was trying to come up with a name that really represented the place I was creating, and Shangri-la came to mind … a mythical, utopian place where people go to escape their troubles, and I think we need that right now.”
With the successful opening and positive local response, it is a surprise to learn that creating Shangri-la was a long and difficult process. “It was more than challenging,” said Peterson. “We got held up with a lot of red tape with Sacramento County. … It was beyond what I could have imagined.” A process expected to take one year instead dragged into two, doubling the time and money Peterson put into the venture.
Peterson said she was stuck in design review with the County for months, but it felt more like a “design critique” as they held up the process over minor aesthetic details without citing any code to back up their objections. “I felt it was irresponsible. They had zero sense of urgency to help get this business going.”
“Small business owners are not supported by the County. I definitely saw that firsthand,” said Peterson. “I want to champion for small business owners, especially women.”
Peterson is proud to be a local business owner and is grateful to have talented people working with her, including executive chef Jodie Chavious, chef de cuisine Russell Middleton, and bar manager Brett Walker. “I’ve built an amazing team here,” said Peterson. “I can have all the amazing ideas but without that support it stays as a concept.”
Peterson grew up in Fair Oaks and recently moved back after living in San Francisco for more than 20 years. “I was born and raised here, and I saw the need for high-quality food and drink in Fair Oaks. That’s what inspired me to start the restaurant. … It’s been really personal and special to be able to bring this to my home town.”
Shangri-la is located in Fair Oaks Village at 7960 Winding Way. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM. For reservations, visit www.shangrilafairoaks.com.