Sacramento Scooter Scene Loses an Important Advocate

The Scoot Shop has closed. Once the hub of Sacramento’s scooter subculture, the black-and-green shop on E Street near 16th was more than a place to purchase scooters, accessories, and have your ride serviced; it was a place to hang out and talk with fellow enthusiasts.

Theron and Rebekah Spurgeon, the owners of the Scoot Shop, also sponsored rallies and monthly runs. As a neophyte to the scooter scene and a terminally shy creature, I felt welcome there, whereas I felt unworthy at Vespa Club of Sacramento gatherings, as I did not have a vintage Vespa (the unwritten condition of becoming a VCOS member).

I visited the Scoot Shop a few times in its last weeks to take advantage of the going-out-of-business sales. I felt guilty, as though I were picking through a dead friend’s stuff. Co-owner Rebekah—who always made me feel part of the Sacramento scooter family—assured me that she had to get rid of her stock.

I now ride with a Corazzo messenger bag across my chest and a few other small items that I picked up at the counter before leaving the Scoot Shop for the last time. It is foolish to think I could have made a difference and somehow changed the course of the business—and as a result, would have had a place to go where I felt accepted. Still, the bag is a constant reminder of how little I contributed to the business.

There is always the Royal Bastards Scooter Club “Meetups,” but try as I might, I always feel like I am on the outside looking in at those gatherings. Unless you want to buy or have your scooter serviced at a motorcycle dealership, the only scooter place in Sacramento is now Scooter City of Sacramento, and you can have them serviced at Barber’s Shop Automotive. Still, Scooter City/Barbers is not a totally dedicated scooter shop like the Scoot Shop was.

I have been to Barbers once to check out a problem with my scooter. The man standing in front of the garage was very helpful, but it was not the same as rolling into the Scoot Shop and talking to Theron or Rebekah. The Sacramento scooter subculture will have to limp along without them and their much-more-than-a-scooter shop.

JR’s Drive Inn or “Lost in the Dust Bowl”

At my father’s suggestion, I checked out JR’s Drive Inn at 8200 Florin Road. It has been in business for 41 years, yet it is virtually unknown in the Sacramento social network sites, although Urban has a write up on the place.

Part of the problem is the remote location; Florin (near Power Inn Road) is close to nothing but is dangerously close to Elk Grove. (That is a joke, people.) When I pulled into the parking lot, the wind kicked up, and the restaurant disappeared momentarily in a cloud of dirt from a nearby lot. I am glad my helmet’s face shield was down; otherwise, the burger taste test would have been tainted by dirt. I noticed there was outside seating, but that definitely would not do today.

When I walked into JR’s very small indoor dining area (which had no more than four seats), a large, friendly woman from across the counter said hello and asked me questions about my Vespa. “We don’t see too many scooters around here.” I wondered if they spooked the cattle. (Okay, that is another joke.)

Throughout my visit, the woman asked me questions about where I lived and so on. When I asked her how fresh the hamburger patties are, she told me that she receives fresh patties about three times a week. As I ate my burger, she continued talking about her relationship with the purveyor: “Sometimes I call, and they will deliver the patties on that same day.”

I ordered the 1/3 lb burger with medium fries and a raspberry iced tea. The patty was juicy, with tomato, raw onion, shredded lettuce, mayo, and a bun that did not shrink under the juice of the patty. This impressive burger does not offer anything fancy. I wondered if the folks at JR’s might have thought a slice or two of pickle was too sophisticated for the burger. Regardless, the burger works as it is. The fries were good, if not excellent—a little on the doughy side, but respectable. Halfway through my meal, I noticed that the paper liner used in my basket had Applebee’s logo on it.

Later on, another customer came in—a regular, who was about as big as the woman behind the counter and a woman eating out in the dust storm. There seems to be a trend here. The woman who walked in took a seat at the counter and complained while picking up a copy of Sacramento Magazine that JR’s has never won the magazine’s Best Burger honors. I agreed that it would not hurt to give this place an honorable mention, especially since the local publication has often nominated chains such as McDonalds while leaving out very good independents such as JR’s. To be certain, JR’s burger cannot hold a candle to that of the Squeeze Inn or Scott’s Burger Shack, but I think an honorable mention is due.

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