There are new restaurants coming, a few saying goodbye and some places shaking things up a bit.
Empty restaurant spaces are getting snapped up quickly by newcomers, said Craig Holdener, a vice president at commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb/Pearson Commercial.
Some of the new restaurants are taking over spaces that haven’t been empty for long, like the former Guadalajara and Mother Mary’s at Willow and Nees avenues.
Others are building new kitchens in existing buildings or in new shopping centers.
Here’s a look at what’s happening.
1. Butterfish California Poke opened its first Clovis restaurant late last month. At 1850 Herndon Ave., it’s in the new shopping center at Fowler Avenue, next to the Five Guys Burgers & Fries.
Like the original Butterfish at Friant Road and Fresno Street (and another in the works at Palm and Herndon avenues), the restaurant specializes in poke. That’s the Hawaiian-inspired dish of raw, bite-size pieces of tuna or other fish.
The new Butterfish offers some hot appetizers that the existing one doesn’t: Sriracha shrimp, Tokyo fries (sweet potatoes fries with a sweet-and-spicy drizzle) and maitake (tempura mushrooms served with a curry ranch dipping sauce).
In addition to the typical ingredients offered in poke bowls, the Clovis location has slow-cooked, thin-sliced beef and a few other new options.
“There’s quite a few new and different things out there,” said co-owner Rema Koligian. “We’re just trying to test the market and see what resonates with people.”
The new place is a little more colorful than the original too, with bright art and wall treatment that evokes an ocean wave. The restaurant also has a walk-up window where people can pick up food they’ve ordered via the Butterfish app.
The Napa Dog with Tioga-Sequoia beer in the background, shown at Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew Thursday, September 10, 2015 in Fresno, Calif. The eatery has opened its first Clovis location, at
The restaurant serves sausages piled high with toppings and house-made potato chips. The Napa dog, for example, is a sweet chicken sausage on a grilled baguette with fig-onion jam and crumbled goat cheese.
Rocket Dog also offers sandwiches and salads.
The restaurant has 24 taps stocked with craft beer, about double the number at its original location at on Shaw Avenue near Highway 41.
That same center has two restaurants in the works that probably won’t open for a while.
3. Clovis Pizza Subs Yogurt will open next to Slice of India, probably this summer.
4. 13 Prime Steak has signed a lease for the former Mother Mary’s pizza place, but still has a lot of work ahead of it before opening.
But after four years of planning, construction costs have quadrupled and the owners changed their minds, said Amy Rose, the director of operations who owns the Valley franchises with her father, Bob Rose.
This isn’t the end of Black Bear here, though. The owners are sniffing around for a location, especially in Fresno. Stay tuned for more on that.
At the Fresno Steak ‘n Shake, which opened last March, cook Daniel Aguilar, left, and other employees practice for opening day.
There’s a lot of buzz about what might be happening at the northeast corner of Willow and Alluvial avenues, but not a lot of answers.
Here’s what we know: On Feb. 5, the Clovis City Council approved a request for a general plan amendment that would change the corner’s low-density residential designation to one that would allow a convenience store and two restaurants.
That application identifies Steak ‘n Shake as one of the restaurants, confirmed Orlando Ramirez, a senior planner for the City of Clovis.
But that’s the only piece of evidence linking Steak ‘n Shake to Clovis. A barrage of phone calls to Steak ‘n Shake’s corporate office, other city departments, and firms that represent the applicant produced nothing – not one return phone call.
The Steak ‘n Shake name is not used in a conditional-use permit application and the company has not submitted any plans to the city.
What does all that mean? Steak ‘n Shake could very well be intending to come to Clovis. But there’s a reason they keep quiet early in a process like this. A lot can happen in the months, even years, it can take to develop a corner. And plans can fall through.
Old Town Donuts opened last week, serving all kinds of doughnuts.
Old Town Donuts
7. Old Town Donuts at 30 W. Shaw Ave. opened Saturday. The doughnut shop is in the same center as Elephant Lounge near Minnewawa Avenue.
It has colorfully frosted doughnuts, doughnut holes, bear claws and “jelly drops” – mini-doughnuts with fillings such as lemon.
Aurore Chhun and her husband run the shop, though it’s Chhun who has the background in restaurants. Born in France, her family moved to Cambodia when she was 10. At one point, she and her parents ran a restaurant on a boat, with her mother cooking as her father steered the boat.
But after the boat burned down, she ended up in Clovis, where her husband is from.
The former Forestiere’s Place, 401 Clovis Ave., bottom floor of the tall building at center, has been a new owner and will become The Bottleneck Bistro.
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8. Bottleneck Bistro will eventually open in Old Town Clovis. You may have noticed Forestiere’s Place, at 401 Clovis Ave. Suite 106, has closed. It was bought by a new owner, Mark Kazanjian, who will reopen it in the coming weeks or months.
He’s redoing the interior and working on a new menu.
The restaurant will focus on quality wines, craft beer and spirits, with a full bar.
Although the menu will have sandwiches, burgers and salads, it will be a different from typical pub fare, Kazanjian said. It will include short ribs braised in red wine and dried mission figs, beer-battered fried cheese curds, and mac ‘n‘ cheese balls stuffed with cream cheese and bacon.
Chicago’s Pizza With-A-Twist is planning to open its third restaurant in the area, this one at 497 N. Clovis Ave. near Arsenio’s Mexican Food.
Chicago’s serves traditional pizza (like all-meat and vegetarian fare), but also pizza inspired by Indian food. It’s a bit like taking the dishes you get at Indian restaurants and turning them into toppings atop a typical American pizza. The menu includes the popular butter chicken pizza and Tandoori chicken pizza. Several pizzas have paneer, the Indian cheese sometimes mistaken for tofu.
Chicago’s is a chain with restaurants all over California. It has two locations in Fresno (at Kings Canyon Road and Clovis Avenue, and at Shaw and Marks avenues).
There’s still a lot of work left to be done inside, so it may be a few weeks or months until it opens.
Cool Hand Luke’s, 955 Shaw Ave., has changed hands and have added lunch and now open at 11 a.m. daily.
The restaurant pulled some favorites from the dinner menu to offer at lunch, including sandwiches, burgers and salads. It added six new lunch dishes. One – perhaps taking a page from Olive Garden’s popular lunch option – features unlimited soup, salad and sourdough rolls for $8.95.
Sergio Hinojosa, walking his bike, looks forward to the opening of Triangle Burgers Drive In, 200 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis.
The popular old-school diner has three locations in Fresno and is known for its burgers, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes.
Workers have ripped out the interior of the restaurant and are redoing it. The owner had hoped to open in December, but is now looking at an April debut.
Jersey Mike’s Subs has closed a Clovis location, but still has five locations in Fresno and Clovis.
12. Jersey Mike’s Subs, which opened in 2015 at the corner of Shaw and Villa avenues, closed Jan. 14. The company says it plans to relocate the restaurant, though just where and when haven’t been determined.
Mickey’s Yogurt is selling raw cookie dough that’s safe to eat.
13. Mickey’s Yogurt at Shaw and Armstrong avenues still is serving frozen yogurt, but has added something different: raw cookie dough.
We’ve all heard the warnings about raw cookie dough because of the potential for salmonella from raw eggs (and lately, E. coli from flour). So owner Tiffany Howell and business partner Daryl France – who is also her grandmother and Mickey is Howell’s grandfather – came up with a cookie dough recipe that’s safe to eat. There are no eggs in the recipe and it uses treated flour.
Customers can buy the cookie dough by the scoop, similar to scoops of ice cream. One scoop starts at $3.49 and toppings can be added.
Slater, the 11-time world champion considered the best of all time, spent 10 years working with a USC aerospace engineer to design a perfect wave, peeling 700 yards along a recontoured water ski lake. Videos of the wave, with hollow barrel sections and open faces to do aerials and cutbacks, have captivated the surfing world since the first one appeared in December 2015. But only a select few have been invited to see it, much less ride it.
“A wave of that shape sits in the subconsciousness of every surfer in the world,” longtime Surfer magazine editor Steve Hawk told The Times in 2016. “That wave is exactly the fantasy wave I drew on the margins of my notebooks when I was in high school.”
For the first time, the facility, the Surf Ranch, will be open to the public during the contest, according to a World Surf League news release. The two-day competition on May 5-6, the Founders’ Cup of Surfing, will have “a festival backdrop honoring the culture of surfing — food, music, beverage, art and special guests will all be on site for enjoyment.”
In an unusual format, the wave-riders will not compete individually but in five-person teams (three men, two women) representing different parts of the world: Australia, the U.S., Europe and Brazil, and one team representing the best athletes from other surfing parts of the world, such as South Africa and Japan.
Global teams of engineers and surfers are vying to build artificial wave pools that can produce high-quality waves that come in rapid enough succession to create an economically viable surf amusement park. An obstacle has been energy use and the length of time the water needs to settle after a wave rolls through before the next one can come.
At a contest, this is less of an issue because of the small number of surfers in the water. And the bonus for contest organizers: the mood swings of nature are mostly out of the equation; no need to wait for distant storms to produce ocean swells. Barring mechanical failure, perfect waves will be coming on May 5.
What better way to celebrate the Central Valley than to exhibit photos that highlight life in this area?
The Carnegie Arts Center will be doing just that with an upcoming exhibit entitled Valley Focus. Eighty photo pieces by 50 photographers will be on display from Jan. 17 to Mar. 18.
Santa Cruz-based photographer Ted Orland selected the pieces from over 250 entries. Orland has worked for designer Charles Eames and was an assistant to Ansel Adams. He currently teaches master class workshops throughout the country.
An opening reception and awards ceremony will be held on Jan. 18, from 5-8 p.m. at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, 250 N. Broadway.
Artists Included in the Exhibition:
Leslee Adams, Modesto
Rosalva Aguilar, Escalon
Janet Alcalde, Murphys
Ann Bailey, Turlock
Clifford H. Bailey, Turlock
Martin Baker, Modesto
Anna Barber, Ripon
Tracy Barbutes, Groveland
Fred Benz, Fresno
Barry Buttress, Turlock
William Calvin, Modesto
Carrie Anne Castillo, Turlock
Neil Cervenka, Turlock
Roberto Chiesa, Modesto
Susan Conner, Altaville
Scott Fergusson, Modesto
Michael Frye, Mariposa
Franka Gabler, Coarsegold
Charlotte Gibb, Lafayette
Clayton Gomez, Turlock
William Harris, Modesto
David Hoffman, Mariposa
Greg Hubbard, Merced
Gary Hunter, Oakdale
Alexis Isley, Delhi
Karen Jensen, Hughson
Linda Knoll, Modesto
Peter David Lee, Modesto
Alice Lessard, Merced
Larry Lew, Ceres
Lisa Livingston, Modesto
Emela McLaren, Manteca
John Moses, Fresno
Jodie Parolini, Turlock
James Quinley, Turlock
Evan Russel, Yosemite Village
Cassaundra Salvanera, Modesto
Joseph Scalero, Modesto
Tara Schendel, Turlock
David Schroeder, Modesto
Roberto Serrato, Riverbank
Jen Smith, Turlock
Elisa Solorio-Ontiveros, Turlcok
Lindsey Tallcott, Modesto
Andy Tolsma, Merced
Arturo Velasquez, Modesto
Christopher Viney, Atwater
James Weber, Discovery Bay
Dennis Wister, Modesto
Roger Wyan, Merced
Now that Fulton Street – closed to cars for more than 50 years – is reopened, people are waiting to see what new businesses appear there.
There still are many vacancies and metal gates pulled across storefronts. But restaurants are among the first new businesses working on plans to open on Fulton Street. It might take a while – not all have signed leases yet – but there is plenty of prep work happening.
As always, restaurant openings are notorious for their delays, so you’ll have to be patient. Several may not open for many months
Chicken Shack – The former Payless ShoeSource will be home to the second location of The Chicken Shack from Hanford. The store, at 1108 Fulton Street at the corner of Mariposa Mall, will be divided into two restaurants. It’s still a big, empty space without kitchens, though, so many months of work are ahead.
Chicken Shack owner Damon Miller hopes to open this summer.
The menu will be much like the restaurant in Hanford, featuring jumbo chicken wings and tenders with more than 30 sauces.
Miller was looking at spaces all over Fresno and got excited about downtown’s future.
“I’m pretty optimistic it’s going to do well,” he said. “There’s still a lot of rejuvenation to come to downtown Fresno and it’d be good to get in early.”
Renoir’s washer woman sculpture stands outside what will be known as Renoir Corner, where two restaurants, The Chicken Shack and Toshiko Japanese Cuisine, are planned at Mariposa and Fulton streets in downtown Fresno.
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The corner has been dubbed Renoir Corner for the washer woman sculpture there inspired by painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. (Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Renoir directed an assistant to create the statue. Fresno’s version is one of six worldwide and the only one the public is allowed to touch.)
Building owner Robert Gurfield – who also owns the two buildings just north of there – plans to put a sign with the Renoir Corner name on the building.
Toshiko Japanese Cuisine – Also hoping to open in the other half of the Payless space is another Hanford business, Toshiko Japanese Cuisine. The sushi and ramen restaurant has a banner up but has yet to sign a lease, so nothing is definite.
Tutis Fruties – The cart selling aguas frescas drinks, fruit and hot dogs on Fulton since 1986 is opening a storefront.
Called Tutis Fruties (not to be confused with the frozen yogurt franchise Tutti Frutti), the business will serve ice cream, aguas frescas, fruit cups and Mexican desserts and snacks like raspados and tostilocos.
The owners hope the restaurant will open by mid-January. They want to continue running the cart, but aren’t sure about its future
Tutis Fruties ice cream parlor nears opening on Fulton Street near Tulare Street in downtown Fresno.
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Quail State – This bar and restaurant doesn’t exist yet, but its sophisticated Instagram photos of cocktails has people intrigued.
The founder says he has the money to open and is in the final stages of negotiating for a space on Fulton Street. But a deal isn’t signed, so he’s not saying where.
Quail State would serve farm-to-table cuisine inspired by Fresno and California’s multicultural population. The name is nod to California and its state bird.
It would sell craft cocktails made from local, seasonal ingredients. The bar would make its own simple syrups, bitters and vermouth, and barrel-age its own cocktails.
If all goes as planned, it could open this summer.
Josh Islas and his partners are the people behind Quail State. Islas was born and raised in Dinuba and lived in Fresno for a year before moving to Southern California. He has spent 10 years working in bars and restaurants, including in management and marketing.
He has joined with his girlfriend, Hayley Wolf, who will be the chief financial officer, and Fresnan Clinton Jeffries.
His search for a spot on Fulton Street didn’t pan out, but he’s landed a location 100 feet away from the street.
He will sell coffee and tea out of Raizana Tea Co. at the corner of Fulton and Tuolumne streets, next to Warnors Theatre.
You see, he bought Raizana with the help of “angel investors.”
He will continue to fulfill orders for Raizana’s wholesale business, which includes selling through Amazon. He will roast coffee and run his coffee business out of the location, too.
“Our plan is to make it where Fulton Street Coffee and Raizana continue to grow separately, but as sister companies,” Vargas said.
The tea-bar part of the business, where people can come in and order a cup, also will sell coffee. It’s not clear what it will be called and Vargas has some prep work to do first, but he hopes it will be open with regular hours by the beginning of February.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for everyone. During Fulton’s grand reopening celebration in October, another entrepreneur previewed the business she wanted to open.
It would have been the city’s first cider bar, plus bring a coffee shop to the northern end of Fulton. She couldn’t reach a deal on the Fulton Street location she wanted to rent, however.
She’s now managing the BroadwayEvents Center not far from Fulton. She still wants to open the cider and coffee business, but it’s probably going to take a little longer.
“I do still want to be on Fulton,” she said. “It’s unfortunate how many storefronts are still just sitting.”
Another business that was up and running when the mall was still closed to cars, Antojitos Mexican Restaurant, has closed. The owners of the business at 1234 Fulton Mall could not be reached for comment.
Little Bean Cafe plans to reopen in 2018 at its location on the corner of Mariposa and Fulton streets in downtown Fresno.
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Little Bean Cafe – This coffee shop was open on Fulton back when it was for pedestrians only. It closed after some electrical problems.
But Little Bean Cafe is planning a comeback. The shop, at the corner of Fulton Street and Mariposa Mall, has signs up that say “Coming Back 2018.”
Owner Guillermo Moreno confirmed the shop should open this year, but he couldn’t pin down a more specific time.
Just the Tip – This restaurant serving tri-tip sandwiches, salads and wraps moved to the area in October. It had outgrown its digs on Divisadero Street near Fresno Community Regional Center.
It moved to 2017 Mariposa Mall, near the corner of Fulton and Mariposa.
“It was perfect timing because of Fulton Street,” said Bianca “Binx” Lopez, one of three partners behind the restaurant.
The trio wasn’t necessarily looking to be on Fulton Street, but they are happy to be part of the changes downtown. They even renamed its sandwiches to reflect nearby streets. The Van Ness, for example, is their French dip sandwich.
Existing restaurants, from left, Donut Downtown, La Cocina de Mamá, Just the Tip and Kids Cafe 2019, are located in what will be known as Renoir Corner, near the artist’s washer woman sculpture at the corner of Mariposa and Fulton streets in downtown Fresno.
“You can’t find a room in Clovis”—that’s the current dilemma in the up-and-coming destination city according to Shawn Miller, the city’s business development manager.
As it stands, Clovis has the highest occupancy rate in the Valley, with its scare hotel rooms booked at or near 100 percent, making it difficult for visitors to find a place to stay close to Clovis attractions and amenities.
Thankfully, hotel chains are taking notice and are now capitalizing on the opportunity to come to Clovis.
At least five new large-scale hotels are in the works. Already under construction are a La Quinta Inn at Clovis Avenue next to The Barnyard Shopping Center and a Marriott-operated hotel at Shaw and Helm. Additionally, the Clovis City Council just approved moving forward with the construction of a third hotel across from Sierra Vista Mall. Already, the area boasts a Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, and now will be welcoming Home2 Suites, run by Hilton.
Lily Cha, who works in the city’s planning department, said the Home2 Suites will be a four-story, 111-room hotel with a footprint of about 16,000 square feet and a total floor area of 66,234 square feet. The hotel will also allow for extended stays.
According to Miller, a fourth hotel yet to be announced is planning to locate on the south side of Shaw Avenue next to Sunnyside, east of Sierra Vista Mall, and several are currently exploring sites near Clovis Community Medical Center and in the Herndon and Clovis area. The hope is that there will be at least one hotel, if not more, that offer extended stay options near the hospital.
STOCKTON — California’s travel and tourism industry enjoyed a seventh consecutive year of growth in 2016, according to the annual economic impact report released by Visit California and Dean Runyan Associates.
The May 4, 2017 report states that tourism generated $10.3 billion in tax revenue and supported 1.1 million jobs during 2016, reflecting a 3.2 percent growth in traveler spending.
Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties contributed to these figures, and as the peak summer travel season approaches, Central Valley communities expect to continue attracting visitors with sights and scenes unique to the area.
“We see a lot of our visitors checking out the Haggin Museum and the Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple, or just shopping and dining in the Lincoln Center and the Miracle Mile,” said Robyn Cheshire, Director of Marketing and Communications for Visit Stockton. “We also know that the water is a big lure for visitors regionally as they explore the Delta and enjoy its recreational opportunities in the summer months.”
According to Cheshire, Stockton is a drive market, drawing many visitors from within a 100-mile radius, particularly from the Bay Area and Sacramento.
Still, travelers from all over the state stop in as well.
“Being on the I-5 corridor, we also see visitors from up north and from Southern California.”
During the peak summer season, Stockton hosts more festivals, sporting events and other activities than other times of the year, and Visit Stockton markets via social media outlets where blog content is targeted at promoting Stockton experiences.
“Our most popular blogs emphasize on family fun, sports, arts and culture and agriculture,” Cheshire said. “We also target potential travelers on other digital channels where they are looking for something to do in the region.”
A bit further North, Lodi’s wine industry is a key attraction to the area.
“Lodi is known as a wine country destination, and visitors travel from all over the United States and beyond to visit our wineries and attend our events,” said Nancy Beckman, President and CEO of Visit Lodi! Conference and Visitors Bureau.
About 60 percent of Lodi’s Downtown Visitor Center guests are from California, with the largest number of overnight visitors being from the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions.
A sizeable amount of visitors, 40 percent, do travel to Lodi from out of state with roughly 10 percent being international travelers.
“Visit Lodi! advertises heavily in the spring and early summer months to capture the potential visitor in their vacation planning cycles. Also, we feature summer attractions and fun activities in blogs and on social media,” Beckman said.
Vacationers sampling Lodi’s 85 wineries have reported that while in the area, they also enjoy recreational activities such as kayaking, paddling and cycling along with visiting the area’s nature preserves, parks and downtown entertainment.
Hotels see an uptick in business during the summer season as well.
“It is not uncommon for lodging facilities to see a 10-20 percent jump in occupancy during the summer months over the first quarter of the year,” Beckman said.
The establishment of Lodi as a notable California wine region has helped boost tourism in the Lodi area. An economic study of the impact the winegrape and wine industry has had to the immediate area is in process, but the growth in tourism is expected to be positive.
“What I can say now is that the number has definitely increased the past few years,” said Wendy Brannen, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission.
Wineries in Lodi, typically situated in clusters, tend to work together to increase traffic pull and will refer tasters from one winery to the next.
“It’s very common as you are leaving one tasting room for the staff or owners there to direct you to their neighbors down the way,” Brannen said.
Lodi wineries do not consider themselves as competing with the Napa and Sonoma wine regions for visitors. Instead, they consider the comparison as one of apples to oranges.
“The experiences are so different, and there is plenty of room in the California wine scene for all of us,” Brannen said. “We offer a very personal experience, and many times the people pouring your wines are the winery owners, and very realistically could be growing the grapes too.”
In Modesto, a proximity to rivers and lakes and the associated water recreation and camping opportunities they provide, along with the area’s agricultural richness draws visitors.
“We also have, and this is very seasonal, but we have a couple you-pick farms which have literally exploded,” said Jennifer Mullen, Executive Director at Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People really want that hands-on, ‘Oh my gosh, I picked it myself’ kind of experience.”
Ott Farms is one such operation giving visitors the opportunity to hand-pick cherries and blueberries.
Still, the biggest summertime draw is Graffiti Summer, a celebration which recognizes Modesto’s cruising heritage as depicted in George Lucas’s film, American Graffiti.
“We get thousands and thousands of people in town because they want to experience something to do with American Graffiti, the movie,” Mullen said.
Along with viewing the Graffiti car parade and car show, visitors can take a 1.5-mile walking tour downtown that features 25 information kiosks.
As part of that tour, visitors can now enjoy the walk of fame, a two-block area, and growing, that currently features 18 embedded stars with the names of those influential in Modesto’s cruising car culture.
“That’s all focused on what we’re so well-known for, our signature events which are the classic car shows, the hot rods, the music,” Mullen said.