Downtown Sacramento Foundation announces finalists in the 4th annual Calling All Dreamers competition

Public can vote for their favorite one of five finalists until 5 p.m. on May 31

SACRAMENTO, CA (May 9, 2016) – The competition to open a new storefront in downtown Sacramento is heating up. The Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) announced the five finalists in the fourth annual Calling All Dreamers business competition, today. The public is encouraged to weigh in on which business they want to see downtown by voting online for their favorite concept at, until 5 p.m., May 31.

The aspiring business owners vying to win a start-up incentive package valued at approximately $110,000 are The Dog Society, Gaucho Garcia, Milk and Sugar, Oblivion Comics & Coffee and Studio Fig.


Owner: Amber Dunahoo

The Dog Society will be a dog boutique and grooming salon that offers low-stress dog grooming and merchandise purchased from local vendors or crafted in-house. The Dog Society will create a central location for consumers to get their locally-made dog accessories, food, and a creative and stylish haircut. The experience at The Dog Society will go further than a visit to just another dog boutique and salon; this business will serve as a flagship for downtown dog culture.


Owner: Natalia Garcia

Gaucho Garcia will be a modern, fast-casual eatery that serves authentic South American food and drink. Gaucho Garcia’s mission is simple: they want Sacramento to fall in love with South American flavors. Specializing in the Argentine meat pie – empanadas – Gaucho Garcia will use generation-old recipes and fresh ingredients from local Sacramento farmers and purveyors.


Owners: Jason Chu, Teri Chu, James Chu

Milk & Sugar will specialize in instant handmade, rolled ice cream served with toppings. The ice cream will be prepared in front of the customer, mixed on a frozen plate that turns a milk and sugar blend into fresh ice cream that is then flattened and rolled. Because this method of creating ice cream is both science and art, Milk & Sugar will explore a sophisticated lab theme to enhance the customer experience. In return, their customers will enjoy a high-quality product made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.


Owners: Laura Benson, Neil Estaris

Oblivion Comics & Coffee will sell comics and gourmet coffee paired with artisan toast. The store will feature new, vintage, and independent titles, along with coffee from Chocolate Fish. The shop is inspired by the DC Comic book universe’s Oblivion Bar where all superheroes and villains are equal and share the same space. Oblivion Comics & Coffee is our real, modern day safe-haven, a place in Sacramento where anyone is welcome, geek or not.


Owners: Srikanth Rao, Amal Iqbal

Studio Fig will be a lifestyle brand and design house focused on providing beautiful, high quality sustainable goods in the fields of fashion, interior home décor, and graphic design. Customers will be able to purchase off-the-shelf goods and work with their design team to design and develop bespoke items in all three areas. They have a vision of growing a lifestyle brand – right here in Sacramento – that employs local designers to use thoughtful materials and methods to create innovative products.

Over the next month, contestants will work with SCORE counselors to refine their business plans in preparation for their final pitch. The winner will be announced in June with the intent to open their business in November.

“Calling All Dreamers and the DSF have been successful in helping entrepreneurs jumpstart their businesses. Over the last three years, we’ve assisted more than 10 new businesses open on the grid, nine of which were competition finalists. In the end, that is a win for everyone,” said Valerie Mamone-Werder, Senior Manager of Business Development. “This year’s field of competition has so much potential. We anticipate and hope that we can help multiple businesses launch as a result of the contest.”

Since the inaugural Calling All Dreamers competition in 2013, the DSF has helped 11 new businesses open in downtown Sacramento, leasing over 15,000 sq. ft. of retail space, creating 10 full-time and 35-part-time jobs. New businesses include Andy’s Candy Apothecary, The Dailey Method, Ana Apple, Allspicery, Figs and Feta, Sun & Soil, Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, Metro Juice, Benjamin’s Shoes, The Workspace: Fashion Incubator and Whired Wine.

The 2016 Calling All Dreamers competition is made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors who continue to be champions for the economic growth of the downtown core and the Sacramento region: The City of Sacramento Economic Development Department; SMUD; MeringCarson; Consolidated Communications; Blanket Marketing; LJ2; Wells Fargo; Market One Builders; Smith, Mc Dowell & Powell, A Law Corporation; BFBA; POS Portal; Inside Publications; TDogg Studios; and T-Rock Communications.

For more information visit For all media inquiries, please contact Jordyn Anderson by email at [email protected], or by phone at 916.442.8575.


About the Downtown Sacramento Foundation

The DSF is a sister organization to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Established in 2011, this 501(c)3 organization is dedicated to fostering civic pride through the improvement of the social and physical environment of Downtown. The DSF provides much needed support to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP) programs that provide elevated services for public space management and beautification, homeless outreach and public safety.