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New life for downtown spots Hero’s and 2039

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New life is coming to two failed downtown businesses — the sports bar that was once Hero’s/Austin’s and the nightclub that used to be 2039.

What’s interesting is that the new owners of Hero’s and Karma — the new name for 2039 — both have experience running downtown businesses. Will that be the difference that leads to success this time around? Only time will tell.

These new leases on life for these two places, which are only a block from each other, register as two reasons I’m excited about downtown Fresno in 2011. For my Friday column in The Bee, I put together a list of 11 reasons — and both Hero’s and Karma (the new 2039) are on it. Here’s more about what’s planned at each business:


KARMA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

  • Location: Karma takes over the Kern Street space that used to be 2039 Ultralounge, near the Fulton Mall and Chukchansi Park. The building has had many lives. Before 2039, it was Fagan’s Irish Pub, Diamond Sports Bar and Bunz. As Fagan’s and 2039, the space could fit almost 500 people for concerts.
  • The Plan: Karma will be a restaurant and nightspot, serving up Korean barbecue and seafood during eating hours. After dark, it will turn into a nightclub, hosting DJs, comedy shows and live bands, says owner Morgan Doizaki, 30. He’s installed a new dancefloor and is waiting for final approval of his liquor license before opening as a nightspot. Currently, Karma has been open for about a week, serving lunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu includes barbecue short ribs, salmon fillet and lobster. Once his liquor permit get final approval (which could literally be any day now, Doizaki says), he hopes to stay open until 4 a.m., as part of the recent rule change allowing downtown nightspots to stay open past 2.
  • Downtown Background: Doizaki is no downtown rookie. His family owns popular downtown mainstay Central Fish Co., he also manages the old Gottschalk’s building on the Fulton Mall and he’s been a board member of Chinatown Revitalization Inc. “Understanding the beast that is downtown is hopefully going to give me an edge,” Doizaki says.


HERO’S SPORTS LOUNGE & PIZZA CO.

  • Location: What was once Hero’s (820 Van Ness Ave.) will become Hero’s once again. The slick sports bar opened in early 2009, but by the end of the year had changed ownership twice. It became Austin’s in December 2009 and that lasted until the end of summer. Now, a new set of owners are going back to the Hero’s name and trying again.
  • The Plan: Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland heads the new Hero’s ownership group with longtime partner Dana Messina. Their strategy is pretty simple: Make Hero’s what it should have been all along — a downtown sports-themed eatery with good food and consistent service. Service had been complaint at both Austin’s and Hero’s, but Kirkland says his experience at Club One will help keep things up to par. “We’re in the food and beverage business,” he says. “We do it 24 hours a day.” Hero’s won’t stay open that late, though. Current plans call for it to stay open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. Kirkland, however, has no intention of trying to make Hero’s a nightclub. He’s adding some billiards tables to the second floor of the restaurant, though. The new Hero’s should be open by mid-February, Kirkland says.
  • Downtown Background: Kirkland is obviously very familiar with downtown and with Van Ness Avenue. He’s owned Club One since 2007. Hero’s is just two blocks away from Club One (Karma is between the two). Given the proximity, he’s hoping to shuttle customers back and forth from the casino to the sports lounge, plus help downtown businesses like Karma in the process. “Anything that we do downtown that creates activity helps all of us,” Kirkland says.

Responses to "New life for downtown spots Hero’s and 2039"

wow both good deals for downtown, gonna check out the new heros when it opens though, the service there before sucked bad, hopefully the new owners will change that and get rid of that previous image

mdub420 says:

Awesome news. True pimps in the game stepping up to take over these spots. I’m positive they will succeed, just like our boy RGM did with the Penthouse. I’m sure these guys have studied the model of the past businesses that were there, and know the areas that need to be corrected. I can’t wait until baseball season starts. I want to get my party on for sure. I don’t like the Grizzlies, but I love baseball (Go A’s!!), and I can’t wait to blackout on the streets of downtown 2011.

Chase Sanborn says:

It’s all good….BUT, Mr. Kirkland needs to take the apostrophe out of “Hero’s” and come up with a better spelling. Like maybe “Heroes.”? Unless Hero is his nickname, or sumthin’.

Copy Editor…STAT!

floydy says:

i blacked out like twice this week downtown.

Conlan says:

I’m with you. Hero’s is odd. Heroes’ would be odd too. Either Hero or Heroes is my vote. That being said, if they have better service and a chance to actually survive there, they can call it whatever they want. Best of luck to both of these places.

dinobyte says:

I never saw a single ad for anything happening at 2039

mdub420 says:

You’re the man!! I wish I had your life foe show!!

Chris S. says:

Hopefully this round of owners works… Both are absolutely perfect locations, especially for the bustling lunch traffic. Hope they do well.

Ray Arthur says:

Ribs for lunch tomorrow at Morgan’s!

AbbyNormal says:

That’s because your were still living in your mom’s basement at the time. Actually, I think you still do?

Kyle Kirkland says:

Yeah, the use of the apostrophe is a little funky. FWIW, our corporate docs use “Heroes”. That said, we’ll probably make use of the “Hero’s” signage in the short-term. First things first, make sure the food and service is first-rate…then make my mom, the former teacher, happy.

Kyle,
Thanks for chiming in. Your involvement in this post shows more engagement than previous ownership. The food and service at Club One is great and I hope the same standards are transferred to Hero’es (I kid…I kid).

Please keep the place open on 4th of July. Previous ownership closed early so staff could spend time with family. I guess they failed to see the benefit of staying open (and offering specials) on the busiest baseball day of the year.

Good luck to both places. The internets will praise your successes and provide feedback as it relates to ways to improve. Stay engaged.

Matt says:

I’d love to open my business downtown someday, but the plot of land I fell in love with is worth $1.2 million. It never hurts to dream, though.

Kyle Kirkland says:

Thanks for the kind words. I’m pretty sure we’ll be open the 4th. FWIW, we’ve been open 24/7 for over 5,500 days in a row at Club One. I honestly don’t know how to lock the front door…

Chase Sanborn says:

Travis is right, Kyle.
And we wish you the very best.

Do NOT take the suggestion on Mike Oz’s Facebook page to drop the “er” and just make it a hip-hop joint! :)

Had lunch at Karma today. Not too bad. Service needs some attention. Too slow for a lunch crowd.

You can read my review at TasteFresno

Ed says:

I’m excited that someone has taken over the location of 2039. It has plenty of potential if it is done right. I just hope that when they do receive their liquor license and begin booking entertainment, that they do not lose focus on the restaurant itself. Restaurants that try to make it as a nightclub seem to always fail in Fresno except the very few that can balance both. As Travis mentioned on his post regarding service, I think that should be priority in the service industry.

Best of luck to Morgan Doizaki and props to him stepping up to help make downtown alive once again.

Morgan Doizaki says:

I realize there are many things I need to do in order to make my restaurant a success. Right now, the plan is to offer a limited menu during my pseudo soft opening. I haven’t advertised and probably won’t until the grand opening; the ribbon cutting ceremony won’t be for a least a couple months. There will be constant changes made throughout the venue during the soft opening and hopefully people will come by and recognize the progress. My goal is to offer the best korean bbq and seafood in town! Over time, the menu will expand, service will get better, and decor will be added. I’m glad to be a part of this thread because of all the support people have for Downtown. I will defintely learn from each comment. For now, come check out Karma, taste the food, and put my service to the test.