BY BETHANY CLOUGH
MARCH 04, 2019 08:27 AM,
A California computer scientist is set to compete for millennial dollars right here in Visalia.
Computer scientist Aamir Farooqui plans to open a 1,800 square-foot, fully-automated convenience store, similar to Amazon Go.
Based in Sacramento, Farooqui says his new concept store is the first of its kind in the Central Valley. He hopes to duplicate it elsewhere, he said.
An automated convenience store relies on computers and robotics. Amazon calls it “just walk out” shopping.
The new Visalia store will be built at 707 S. Bridge St., in the middle of the city.
Currently, it’s a vacant lot sandwiched between a second-hand store and homes. Farooqui bought the vacant parcel last year.
The developer is seeking a conditional-use permit from the city for the new store.
“In our model, we will be using new type of vending machines equipped with WiFi and cameras,” Farooqui said. “People can buy merchandise using cash (after converting to gift cards), credit or debit cards or through a mobile app. At the store opening, we plan to give away 100 free gift cards to our first customers.”
These kinds of stores have taken off in Europe where they go by the names of SmartMart and RoboMart. Farooqui says he has yet to choose a name for the Visalia location.
He hopes to open as soon as possible.
Not having on-site employees will allow the business to save money although it may take shoppers a little time to get used to a new routine using technology.
“Our goal is simply to reduce the cost of running a store for small businesses and at the same time offer 24-hour convenient service to the local community.”
Amazon’s model is simple.
“You simply walk in, grab what you need, and go. Amazon bills your credit card as you pass through the turnstile on your way out,” he said. “Moments later, an app on your phone provides a receipt detailing what you’ve bought, what you paid, and even how long you spent inside.”
Grocery stores are automating the shopping experience led by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The Visalia Walmart is installing more automated check-out devices and Sam’s Club wants to allow shoppers to scan products by holding their smartphones over a product, without having to find and capture a barcode on the package.
Microsoft is said to be developing technology that can track what shoppers add to their carts.
Meanwhile, Target is changing item pickup service at the stores with Pickup Towers, making the in-store process automated.
It is often said results speak for themselves. But, what if they don’t? What if the most important accomplishment is mastering new ways to think and work together—culture change?
The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance is built on the work of the Regional Jobs Initiative (RJI). The RJI was designed as a 5-year sprint in 2003 to create 30,000 jobs in the Central Valley, create new civic infrastructure, strengthen the workforce and build a dozen industry clusters. The theory—if we create jobs and a strong workforce—there will be resources for the city of Fresno to invest in amenities, parks and infrastructure instead of spending the bulk of its money on law enforcement. Everyone would benefit: job seekers, employers and the community. Much was accomplished. Many lessons were learned.
Businessman Mike Betts, informed by the work of the RJI, made a commitment to lead the Alliance from a civic perspective. Rather than create an industry cluster, he and many partners from government, education and nonprofits are standing together as citizens first to align resources and to get results. Rather than think from their self-interest, they are committed to doing what is best for the whole community. Single interests fragment and negotiate. Citizens align and leverage. You know which approach delivers better results!
New programs have started, dual enrollment is increasing, millions of dollars in equipment and programs have been added to career and technical education, instructors have become certified. The results are students are becoming credentialed and qualified for jobs, and students are finding career pathways they never knew existed.
Employers are discovering that if they want a strong workforce they must become a strong partner in curriculum design. They must offer externships so instructors are up to date on workforce culture and skill needs. They must offer internships to students at various levels as first jobs of generations past are no longer available. Most of all, they must be mentors and role models. Too many of our youth and young adults did not receive the kind of mentoring those in healthy families receive by osmosis. We must be intentional.
We are not alone in this work. The California Community Colleges initiated the Strong Workforce Program and the impacts have rippled throughout the state. New funding, new policies and more alignments are the fruit of these efforts. California Forward and the California Stewardship Network are working together, not just to accelerate outcomes from this program, but to address critical community issues that prevent too many of our residents from being job ready and thriving.
2019 is a big year for us. The eighth California Economic Summit is coming to Fresno in the fall. We encourage you to check out the Summit website and read the 2019 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity. Every region is on board, Governor Newsom has been involved since the beginning and the commitment to advance economic, social and environmental issues together is shared by all. Civic stewardship—leaders working together on behalf of the whole—is the path to achieving Golden State reality.
A Tulare butcher is making a splash in the world of smoked and cured meats — again.
This time, it’s a bigger splash.
Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., recently took home several awards at the annual California Association of Meat Processors’ Cured Meat Competition held at California State University, Chico.
This is the fourth year Mendes has entered his prized meats in the competition and the second time the business has taken home the best in show award.
Mendes has made a name for himself and is quickly gaining state and national recognition.
“They didn’t know what Tulare was,” he said. “They know now.”
At the state competition, Mendes entered 28 products in 18 different categories. He took home 10 grand champion wins. In total, he took home 18 awards.
“Getting best in show two out of the four years is pretty awesome,” he said. “It was impressive — a feel-good moment.”
Mendes received grand champion awards for his bone-in ham, Italian bacon, jalapeno cheese stick, stadium franks black label, old fashion hot dogs, fresh Italian sausage, smoked bratwurst, cheddar bratwurst, jalapeno cheddar sausage, braunschweiger, garlic summer sausage, duck bacon and Linguica-style cottage bacon.
He also received a merit award for his sugar cured bone-in ham and turkey bacon.
But the big takeaway was the coveted Joe Cutler Memorial Best of Show for his Italian bacon. His sausage was judged against the grand champions of each meat category — many his own creations.
Mendes first started to work for Tulare Meat Locker, which originally opened in 1976, when he was only 13. After a call from the former owner in 2003, Mendes decided he wanted to take over the business.
Over the last 15 years, Mendes has worked on his technique and offers custom butchery to Tulare County residents and beyond.
His sandwiches are top hits at the annual Ag Expo and Tulare County Fair.
“That’s what makes this place unique, it’s all done in house,” he said.
The shop offers custom butchering of livestock and fresh meat that isn’t sliced until ordered. Sausages, snack sticks, hams, tri-tip and linguica are also available. He hopes to one day expand his storefront and offer all in-house made sandwiches.
The annual contest is open to all California Association of Meat Processor members and is judged by a panel of meat specialists.
Mendes is expected to compete at the national level this summer in Alabama.
Last year, he took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.
Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.
Tulare Meat Locker is located at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave.
A new bar called Quail State plans to open on a second-floor rooftop space at the historic Pacific Southwest building on Fulton Street in downtown Fresno.
The owners of the bar signed a lease for the space last week. They hope to open in October, with several months of construction work yet to start.
The bar will have indoor and outdoor spaces. To start, it will focus on its drinks made with seasonal fruit and vegetables; a dinner menu will be added later, said Josh Islas, one of the partners behind Quail State.
The historic Pacific Southwest building is the 1920s building with red awnings and columns at the corner of Fulton and Mariposa streets. It’s the same building where bakery La Boulangerie plans to open a second location, essentially a walk-up window with tables on the sidewalk.
Quail State – a reference to California’s state bird – will take over a space on the east side of the building. Just above the columns is an outdoor rooftop space that faces the Radisson Hotel Conference Center on Van Ness Avenue.
There is still much work to be done, said Islas, who owns the business with his fiancée and chief financial officer, Hayley Wolf.
“It’s currently three separate spaces,” he said. “We have to redo all of it.
When it’s up and running, the bar will use locally sourced ingredients with seasonal fruit and vegetables but also reflect the “influence of the cultures” in the area, Islas said.
“Not just the produce, but every different culture has their own unique spices and their unique profile,” he said.
The bar would make its own simple syrups, bitters and vermouth, and barrel-age its own cocktail ingredients.
Quail State first announced its intention to open a spot on Fulton in The Fresno Bee in January 2018. It didn’t have a space at the time and spent months searching for and finalizing a location.
Ever since Fulton Street transformed from a pedestrian mall to a street open to cars in 2017, Quail State has been teasing its Instagram followers with sophisticated images of its drinks.
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.
It turns out there really is in great future in plastics. At least there is now in Modesto.
The plastic injection molding company JATCO Incorporated is relocating from the Bay Area to the Central Valley and will bring some 150 jobs with it to the new headquarters.
Founded in 1976, the company has been in Union City since 1985. But recently it has looked toward the Valley to relocate, including spots in Stockton and Turlock. Company president Steven Jones said Modesto won out because of the help of the city’s economic development team and the county’s Opportunity Stanislaus program.
“We picked Modesto primarily because of the cooperation that we’ve had from the city and from the county,” Jones said. “It was nice to be welcomed with open arms from the city and county, who offered to provide all of the necessary support to ensure that our operation would be successful.”