Here’s a bit of news for craft beer fans: Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s 805 ale is now available in the Fresno area. Until now the beer, brewed in Paso Robles, wasn’t for sale on shelves outside of the 805 area code.
The honey blond ale was reportedly being “smuggled” back in car trunks and back seats to Fresno by people visiting the central coast. Firestone says that Ryan Donaghy of Fresno-based beverage distributor Donaghy Sales convinced the brewer to sell it in Fresno.
So who’s tried 805? What did you think of it? I’m told Spokeasy has had 805 on tap in the past and will rotate it in again soon.
Firestone says you can get the beer at Save-Mart, BevMo!, Whole Foods and numerous independent outlets, such as Liquor King, Elite Liquor and MGA Liquor. You can also get it on tap at Neighbor’s Tap & Cookhouse, Red Wave Inn, The Mad Duck, Doghouse Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, Swiggs and Red Robin.
This onesie demonstrates the rhinestones and glitter used at Bling Witch.
The newly opened Bling Witch Design Studio can bling out just about anything with rhinestones or glitter: T-shirts, high-heeled shoes, plastic cups, license plate frames, bumper stickers and baby onesies. You can even have a photo of your dog turned into a rhinestone design on a T-shirt. The business is a store that sells supplies for crafters and finished items such as T-shirts. It also takes custom orders and hosts classes and birthday and bachelorette parties.
Bling Witch is at the southeast corner of Bullard and West avenues. The Bling Witch in the name is Maryann Ward, who runs the business with her husband Bob, aka Mr. Bling Witch. You may remember Maryann from Yaya’s Creative Boutique at Bullard and Marks avenues. She lost the lease on that store and closed it, opening Bling Witch April 1.
Because the blinging process is so customizable, many of the items created at Bling Witch are a bit different than you’d find at your average store — like the T-shirt with two glitter milk jugs on it that someone created for a friend who is breastfeeding. (Keep scrolling to see examples of rhinestone doggies.)
For a look at how to apply rhinestones, check out the step-by-step photo gallery made by our newest blogger and DIY-er, Traci Arbios.
Two of the biggest block sales of the season are coming up soon. The Harvard block sale in the Fresno High neighborhood is this weekend, followed by the Terrace Avenue sale on May 26 during Memorial Day weekend. The Terrace Avenue folks tell me their sale is the biggest, though I suspect some Harvard Ave. residents might have something to say about that.
Furniture, clothing, tools and other junk-turned-treasure are for sale at both popular block sales, with yard sales generally spanning between Van Ness Boulevard and Harrison avenues.
No matter which one you go to, there’s always something to be found — even if it’s just a bite to eat and some people watching — at the block sales.
The folks over at The Hashtag — that Tower District work space full of interesting people — have a sense of humor about their second anniversary. They celebrated it by creating a gallery of internet sensation Grumpy Cat in their hallway.
Hashtag member Tessa Williamson of simplyDesign hand painted this picture and hung up the other prints. Check out the rest of the prints on Hashtag’s website here (scroll down a bit to see their photos).
The Triangle Drive In celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend.
The little burger joint with the walk-up window on Belmont just west of Highway 99 has all types of regulars who love the place, the manager tells me. And $2.39 for a regular burger? $3.55 for a jumbo burger? Can’t beat that. The collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia adds a nice charm. Most of it is brought in by customers, by the way.
Anyway, I want to know what you like about this place. A restaurant around this long surely has some longtime fans, and I’d love to hear some of your memories from years past. When did you come here and why? Maybe I’ll include them in an upcoming column in the newspaper.
There’s a second Triangle Drive In in Ivanhoe, by the way, and plans are under way to open a third one on the east side of town near Clovis. More on that when it happens.
Passions Boutique has opened its third location, this one at Bullard and West avenues in the same shopping center as The Manhattan Steakhouse & Bar. The store sells women’s clothing, jewelry and purses, and caters to women of all ages. The store gets many mother/daughter/grandmother combos coming in together to shop because of its variety, manager Ruby Tello noted. Passions also carries plus size clothing, including plus-size LA Idol jeans with blinged up pockets.
Passions opened its first boutique nine years ago downtown, at 2027 Tulare St., near Fulton Mall. It has another, 2-year-old store at 1085 E. Herndon Ave., near First Street. Tello said customers repeatedly requested a new store in northwest Fresno.
Sprouts Farmers Market opens its first store in Fresno at 7 a.m. Wednesday with all kinds of hoopla. The store is in the former Sports Authority store on Blackstone Avenue, in the same shopping center as Bed Bath & Beyond. Here’s what you need to know about Sprouts.
- It has an emphasis on healthy eating, which means it carries lots of produce, many organic items, along with gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and [insert dietary restriction here]-free items. There’s 8,000+ items in the vitamin and health section. Many people compare it to a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s. (Ironically, the candy section is front and center as you walk into the store.)
- Sprouts also bills itself as an affordable grocer. I ran into NerdMom, a local blogger who has four kids and buys a lot of gluten-free food. She tells me that the store’s prices on things like gluten-free waffles and other “Whole Foods type” stuff are lower than many other retailers. Some other products, not so much. The store sells lots of Sprouts-branded packaged foods, and the company runs its own produce distribution system — buying from farmers instead of a distributor — which means it can keep prices low on many items.
- Bargain hunters, you’ll like this trick. The specials in the store’s ads start on Wednesdays. But each Wednesday’s deals overlap, so you can get the deals in last week’s circular, along with the sales in next week’s circular, on Wednesdays.
Fresno ice pop maker Ooh de Lolli has a new product: The pooch pop. These popsicles for doggies are made from tofu, peanut butter and almond milk. Instead of a popsicle stick, they use dog chew sticks. The dog pops, which cost $2.50, same as the human pops, sold out at Ooh de Lolli owner Donna Mott’s recent trip to Bella Frutta on Saturday. Just check out the cuteness that ensues when you combine a hot dog and a cool pop:
The canine creamsicles are selling so well Mott is considering trying to sell them at stores. You can get them, along with the human ice pops in flavors such as in flavors like watermelon cilantro and kiwi strawberry, at the Kaiser Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday and at Bella Frutta, at Willow and Shepherd avenues, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m every Saturday. Ooh de Lolli also attends Engelmann Cellars Friday night events.
Fresno now has its only “authorized” Rolex dealership with the opening of Wickersham Company in River Park. The 112-year-old jeweler from Bakersfield recently opened its second jewelry store/Rolex dealership, this one between Sur La Table and Panera Bread.
Rolex watches start at $5,000 and run up to $275,000. They are “the finest watches in the world,” says Wickersham president John Abrams. The store also sells William Henry knives, some made with dinosaur bone and mammoth tooth and costing up to $8,900, and its own line of jewelry made in Bakersfield. The store has the security to go with such high-end items too, including a vault that holds all the merchandise at night. Customers must ring a bell and a security guard behind glass will buzz them in, and then buzz them through a second door.
Every time I write about a high-end retailer like this one someone says to me, “Oh, Fresno can’t support that.” We’ve definitely got our fair share of poor: One in four residents in Fresno lives below the poverty line. But we also have had Haron Jaguar selling $90,000 cars here for years. Posh in Fig Garden village sells fur coats that cost thousands of dollars and bathrobes at La Rouge in Fig Garden run over $100. The owner of Posh once told me that Fresno’s wealth is quiet, and tends to travel out of town to do a lot of its high-end shopping. The Wickersham president agrees there’s enough wealth to support a Rolex dealership here (obviously) and says companies give the watches as awards.
So just who do you think it is in this town that would buy a Rolex? Is it doctors and lawyers? Farmers?
Photo: Abercrombie & Fitch
The CEO of teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want large women wearing his clothes. That’s why the store doesn’t carry anything larger than a size 10, or any extra-large sizes — at least that’s what Robin Lewis, co-author of “The New Rules of Retail” said in a recent interview with Business Insider about CEO Mike Jeffries.
From the interview: “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
What, have the mean girls from high school morphed into a man now running an international clothing company? That’s seems like an excellent way to alienate customers (as if it isn’t off putting enough walking into the Fashion Fair Abercrombie’s dark entrance flanked by half naked boys that my 30-something self shouldn’t even be looking at).
The retailer offers XL and XXL sizes of men’s clothing mind you, but Lewis says that’s because he likely wants to appeal to beefy athletes. Apparently the CEO has never heard of a female athlete. Nor an ugly thin person.
So what do you think, shoppers? Will this make you stop shopping there? Any nuggets of truth to this way of doing business?
If you haven’t made a reservation for a Mother’s Day meal, hop to it. Seats are filling fast. There is a ton of restaurants doing something special like a buffet for Mother’s Day. You can read my column about them here. I’ve also pulled out a few examples here for the blog.
- If you’ve got a extra healthy mom, Organic Fresno is having a five-course brunch and five-course dinner, both for $20 each. The menu includes a “waffle trio” of lemon-coconut, chocolate-hazelnut and vanilla spice waffles. Main courses for dinner include a veggie terrine, portobello mushroom barbecue, chicken Cacciatore and leg of lamb. You can see the full menu here. For reservations, call (559) 478-0099.
- If you want to take mom up to Yosemite for the day, the Ahwahnee Hotel has dropped its Mother’s Day brunch prices this year to make it more accessible. The brunch, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., features a carved prime rib and ham station, seafood, omelets and “petite desserts.” The brunch costs $45 for adults (about $8.50 cheaper than normal), $15 for children 5 to 12, and children 4 and under are free. Call (801) 559-4935 for reservations.
P*DE*Q, the local maker of Brazilian cheese bread, is getting a shot at landing on Costco shelves. Owner Flavia Takahashi-Flores will be sampling and selling the little balls of cheesy goodness at the Costco on North Blackstone Avenue near Herndon Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
If she sells enough — 1,300 jars — she’ll be invited back for more events, with the long-term goal of getting P*DE*Qs on the shelves permanently. It’s part of Costco’s roadshow program that gives local businesses a chance to prove themselves to Costco but also build their own brand in the process. (You may have seen other local businesses doing this recently too.)
You can sample (and buy) all five flavors: regular, bacon, chocolate, jalapeno and carrot-raisin flavors.
The Vintage Market at 601 will hold an open house/grand opening with discounts and refreshments from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
The 6-month old shop in the Fig Garden neighborhood is part antique and home decor store, part art gallery. Seven vendors, including four local artists, sell their wares at the shop. They range from little ceramic bird knickknacks for under $10 to an ornately carved wooden trunk for $795. The artists sell original art, such as the giant portraits by Paul Parichan of Sanger.
The large store is arranged in rooms, from the “man room” with its masculine furnishings to a small bathroom-themed room featuring a collection of vintage linens. Even if you’re not in a position to buy, the shop is visual feast with plenty to look at. Keep scrolling for some pictures of what you’ll find at the shop.
Owner Jacquelyn Shore and another partner offer in-home design services, often working with pieces a customer already has, for $125 an hour. (If you remember the Impatience’s Collectique store in Clovis, that was Shore’s previous business.) You can read more about the store here.
There will be food and drinks — “some of which are adult,” Shore says — at the open house. The business is located at 601 W. Shaw Avenue, across the street and a little east of Fig Garden Village. Details: (559) 226-1899.
KwirkWorld, Fresno’s favorite seller of shot glasses and bacon-flavored candy necklaces, is selling clothing.
You can still buy “Chugopoly,” but much of the River Park store is now devoted to tops and dresses. Owner Kirk Psenner said the wacky stuff sells great during the holidays. But during the rest of the year? Not so much. To keep money coming in, a big portion of the floor space has been turned over to clothing that the owner says is affordable and cute. Think ModCloth-style clothing and vintage-inspired pieces. He chose clothing that’s less teeny bopperish and more geared toward women in their 20s through 40s.
Tops run in the $20 to $30+ range and dresses from $30 to $40ish. T-shirts and baseball caps are available for the fellas. Keep scrolling to see photos of the clothing.
But fear not, fans of stick-on hipster mustaches, the novelty items will take over the store again for the holidays. And there’s about to be a lot more KwirkWorld to shop at. A new smaller KwirkWorld store just opened at Sierra Vista Mall next to the movie theater. And another store is scheduled to open in the Campus Pointe shopping center at Fresno State once it’s built next year. The owner will also open a Franco’s 5 & 10, an old-school candy and toy store.
As if Kai the ax wielding hitchhiker wasn’t enough, Fresno is making headlines for yet another bizarre story. The guy at right was arrested Friday for biting off a man’s finger in drug-fueled craze in central Fresno. From the story:
A 41-year-old man believed to be high on drugs is in custody on suspicion of diving through the front window of a central Fresno house and biting off a finger of a man in the home early Friday, police said.
Once Scotty Blair was arrested, police retrieved the victim’s finger and gave it to paramedics. The unidentified victim was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was in stable condition.
It was not known whether his finger was reattached.
Police said Blair ingested a near-lethal dose of drugs, and went through the neighborhood kicking on doors and screaming about a devil in his head. He clawed at a wooden fence before finally surrendering to a police dog. No word on whether the very bad hair day was a cause or a result of his actions. And you thought eating other humans in a drug-fueled craze only happened in Florida.
The Fresno Craft Beer Festival bills itself as “the ONLY craft beer festival in Fresno.” Just one problem. It’s in Madera.
The event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11 and features 30 breweries, is at ApCal (which some may know as Appellation California). The wine tasting and event venue regularly hosts live music and other events on its big lawn with the 100-year-old oak tree. ApCal isn’t that far from Fresno. In fact, the boundary between Fresno and Madera counties follows the San Joaquin River and ApCal, on Avenue 7, is only 1.3 miles from the river via Highway 99.
The festival’s logo features the city of Fresno’s flag, though. And Facebooker Kiel Thomas Schmidt points out this language on the website promoting the festival:
“No more hot parking lot festivals or trying to find a parking spot in scary part of the city. Our place is beautiful, spacious, safe and FUN!”
Says Schmidt: “It also seems to slam both the Downtown Fresno’s Sudz in the City and Tower’s Oktoberfest. Though, I bet there won’t be any craft brewers at this one that weren’t at the other two.”
So what do you think, dear readers? Does it matter that the Fresno Craft Beer Festival isn’t in Fresno or is ApCal close enough? Are you offended by the apparent dis of the other beer festivals?
Cinco de Mayo is this weekend and that means lots of yummy food and beer. The list of places doing something special for the day includes:
- Downtown’s huge Cinco de Mayo festival on Fulton Mall starts Friday and runs through Sunday. Food booths, crafts, folklorico dancers and live music will stretch from Kern Street to Fresno Street. It runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
- It’s “Cinco de Elbow” (huh?) at the Elbow Room, which is already partway through its five-day celebration. They’ll be Mexican dancers at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A Santana tribute band starts playing a noon Sunday. There’s food and beer specials too, including camarones a la diabla and posole.
- The folks at Ramos Torres Winery in Kingsburg are celebrating their Hispanic heritage Saturday. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., they’ll be serving tacos with wine. The event is free for club members, $15 for everybody else.
I’m sure there’s more places having Cinco de Mayo events, so feel free to let us know.
There’s a letter floating around Twitter about cracking down on drunk students at Fresno State’s graduation. The letter, from vice president of student affairs Paul M. Oliaro, is addressed to the manager of Dog House Grill and thanks the restaurant for participating in the university’s efforts to have a “safe and dignified” commencement.
Apparently the restaurant has agreed not to open early during the two days of graduation ceremonies this year. It’s not clear what time the restaurant opened in the past, but according to Google, it normally opens at 11 a.m. (Various ceremonies start as early as 8 a.m. Thursday, May 17 and the entire university’s commencement is at 9:30 a.m. May 18 in the Save Mart Center.) Here’s an excerpt of the Oliaro’s letter referencing their meeting, but you can read the full text of it here.
“… I explained my role in the Fresno State Commencement events and my concern about the number of students who have recently attended our ceremonies who were intoxicated. I appreciated your understanding of my concern and our efforts to do our best to ensure that it is a safe and dignified event for the students and parents who will celebrating this moment.”
Wait a minute. Going to your graduation drunk is a thing? Now, I’ve never been to a Fresno State graduation ceremony, and it’s been over a decade since my own graduation, but I was surprised to hear this was a problem. How big a problem is it? Is Fresno state making a mountain out of a molehill?And why would you want to get lit for what should be a time of pride? I mean, your grandma is there!
That aside, Fresno State should be lauded for its efforts to change a culture of drinking that can have dangerous consequences. We shouldn’t have to be reading about students like Philip Dhanens, who died after a frat hazing last year, and the 1,800 other deaths of college students that alcohol is a factor in nationwide.
But I’m still curious about the concept of drunk graduation. How big a problem is it and what have you seen?
Owner Osry Tsudama at Tsu Tsu Boutique. Photo by Mark Crosse.
Tsu Tsu Boutique just celebrated its first anniversary, so it’s not exactly new, but I have a feeling some shoppers haven’t discovered this little consignment shop in the Tower District.
The store sells gently used women’s clothing, jewelry and handbags and is at 727 E. Olive Ave., next to Bobby Salazar’s. It’s similar in concept in Plato’s Closet, buying clothes outright from sellers and reselling them at a discount. Unlike Plato’s though, Tsu Tsu (pronounced “su su”) doesn’t focus on teeny boppers and tank tops. Instead, it sells clothing geared toward women their 20s, 30s and older. The clothes are trendy, but not too skin baring.
The boutique does lots of business in high-end jeans. Owner Osry Tsudama found there was a market for selling such jeans after shoppers who spent hundreds of dollars found they just didn’t fit right after the first wash. Brands such as True Religion, J Brand and bebe denim run between $35 and $59 at Tsu Tsu.
The store also sells used Coach handbags and other high-end purses. The jewelry sold at the store is new.
And shoppers will also find Osry’s collection of modified denim shorts. She dyes them, adds swaths of fabric, studs and other embellishments. Keep scrolling for more photos of what the boutique sells.
Roll One for Mi, “a sushi joint,” has opened in northeast Fresno.
The restaurant opened on 4/20 in the Via Montaña shopping center at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue (that’s the one with Yosemite Ranch and Vino & Friends).
The restaurant brings together three sushi chefs who have worked at Wassabi, Roe, Sushi Day and Yoshino. The large menu includes raw fish, along with cooked fish, chicken and beef dishes and bento boxes. See images of the menu below (click on them to enlarge).
One favorite not on the menu: The rattlesnake roll with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, asparagus and cream cheese wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried “like a sushi chimichanga,” says co-owner Steve Wayte.
Wayte and Tom Tymn opened the restaurant after the economy took out their construction supply and fire sprinkler companies. Wayte is the co-founder of the local Tea Party and hosted the Tea Party Boot Camp radio show on KYNO.
But Tymn is quick to point out that Wayte won’t talk politics with you if you don’t want to. And despite the pun on marijuana in the name, you won’t find any at the restaurant. “Mi,” by the way, is Japanese for beauty, Wayte says.
This one made me smile. From Steve Skibbie, a downtown ambassador, photographer, Lowell resident and all-around decent human being:
It’s like a Starbucks for craft beer.
That’s how manager Saúl Aguilar describes Das Bierhaus, which is finally up and running in the Tower District, across the street from Spectrum Gallery.
“You can come in and drink it here, or you take it home,” he says of the beer sold at the bottle shop.
Das Bierhaus (yes, it means “the beer house” in German) has two coolers full of craft beer. Customers can pop open a cold one there for a $1 corkage fee (the department of alcoholic beverage control requires that) and drink it at one of the tables or bars. Or, they can buy bottles and take them home. A “build your own six pack” lets customers mix and match beers for $9.99.
The business specializes in craft beers and keeps prices low on local beers, including Riley’s and Tioga-Sequoia. Das Bierhaus gets lots of craft beer fans who have discovered something new on tap at places like Spokeasy or Fresno Brewing Company and come to Das Bierhaus looking to buy some to take home.
The bottle shop concept is new to the central San Joaquin Valley, but it’s one that’s becoming popular in larger cities. Because it’s not truly a bar, nor just a retail store (there will be beer on tap in the coming months, by the way) the business got a little tangled up in red tape before opening. But it’s here now and if you want to check it out, my former colleague Mike Oz is having an Ozmosis Happy Hour at the place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight. More photos below.
A newly opened hot dog stand in northeast Fresno has an unusual theme: teddy bears.
Brown Bear’s Hotdogs is a little stand opened recently in the former Cali’s Frozen Custard at Herndon Avenue and Fresno Street. It’s just beyond the Chili’s restaurant. Look for giant teddy bear eating a hot dog tacked to the exterior wall (or the bear paw prints leading drivers through the drive thru, or the teddy bear tied to the grill of the owners truck).
The hot dog stand — which has a drive thru and a walk-up window — got its name because the wife behind the business, Jennifer Raya, says her husband reminds her of a bear, hence her nickname for him and the business name. Brown bear’s real name is Benjerman Raya. (Actually, his name is Benny, but as a vertically challenged teen — he’s not anymore for the record — he got tired of being called a kid and changed his name to BenjerMAN.)
But let’s talk about the food. It’s all about the hot dogs here, with chili dogs, pizza dogs, kung pao dogs and more. Some are drenched in creative toppings, like the buffalo dog with deep-fried croutons in a buffalo chicken sauce, celery and ranch dressing. They’re messy, but the Rayas give out forks and are liberal with the napkins.
There’s even a breakfast dog wrapped in eggs, which is why the stand opens at 6:30 a.m. most days. Brown Bear’s uses Nathan’s beef hot dogs, and also serves vegetarian dogs. For $5, diners get the dog, a bag of chips and a can of soda.
If you’ve heard of Brown Bear’s before, it’s because the couple used to run a hot dog trailer of the same name. Working from a restaurant allows much more flexibility in food they can offer.
After the popular Dusty Buns Bistro Bus blew an engine last week, I got invited to a fundraiser to help fix the bus. A bunch of people got together at the Fresno Brewing Company Monday night and raised about $1,500 selling tacos, beer and auctioning off donated items.
I mentioned it to a co-worker who said, “Huh, a fundraiser for a for-profit business? That’s unusual.”
Another local food blogger, The Cured Ham, asked where the fundraiser was for another food truck with mechanical problems.
It’s worth noting that the Dusty Buns folks didn’t plan this fundraiser. A group of their personal friends — including Fresno Brewing Company owner Ephiram Bosse and Taste Fresno blogger James Collier — did. Once they put it out there, the donations for silent auction items poured in. The Stewarts were very vocal with their thank yous on the internet.
It got me thinking, what exactly is it about Dusty Buns that inspires such love from the community? There’s no doubt these people have a following. Just look at the line at any of their events. So seriously, tell us, what is it about them? It has to be more than the food, right? Is it the trail blazing they’ve done in creating food truck events like Cart Hop? The emphasis on organic food? Or is it just that they’re a cute hippie couple with an adorable baby?
Loyal customers of the Train Depot restaurant at First Street and McKinley avenues are in mourning after a fire that all but destroyed the restaurant. It appears at least one pho restaurant burned too.
According to reporter Jim Guy’s update today:
A fire early Tuesday destroyed a structure that housed several restaurants and a laundromat in central Fresno. Firefighters say the building at University Avenue and First Street is a total loss. The monetary value is being assessed.
The cause is under investigation.
I’ve never been to this restaurant, but I hear it’s a popular breakfast spot. Facebook friends are talking about the funky train-related decor — there’s a miniature train that travels past train murals — and vintage photos of kids on the walls.
The people behind the restaurant are already vowing to reopen. From the Train Depot’s Facebook page: