Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Stores and restaurants on the move: Who’s coming, who’s going

Lots of restaurant and retail news happening lately, so I figured it was time for a round up. Here’s what’s happening.

Lots of folks have been asking what’s happening at the former Fajita Fiesta on Shaw Avenue, just west of Cedar Avenue. It’s going to be Guri’s Grubhouse & Taps. It’s a gastropub (that means lots of craft beer and gourmet food) that the people who own Swigg’s are opening. You can read all about it here. No opening date released yet.

The long dead corner of Clinton and Weber will get a Vallarta Supermarket. The Hispanic grocer probably won’t open until the end of 2015, but it’s nice to finally have some action on the site of the former Mid-State Bowl.

The Elephant Lounge is open at 80 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis in the former North India Bar & Grill. It quietly opened a few weeks ago to work out the kinks. The restaurants sells Indian food — both authentic and fusion — along with Italian and American. Stay tuned for more details on that from me.

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Benaddiction restaurant is open and raising money for a good cause

Rock-n-roll-themed breakfast food truck Benaddiction has opened its sit-down restaurant. The truck is still rolling Thursday through Sunday, but now you can get the breakfast sandwiches, salads and other food any day of the week at the restaurant. It’s located at 3015 W. Bullard Ave., at the southwest corner of Bullard and Marks and is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The menu is a little different from the truck. Pancakes are now available, along with appetizers such as Buffalo wings and onion rings. Customers can get the breakfast sandwiches on their own, or, since the business can actually use plates now, get them served open faced with french fries or breakfast potatoes. And clearly, it’s not just breakfast food, with wraps, salads and burgers on the menu too. “Any meal you want whenever you want it,” says owner James Caples.

The restaurant is little — about 1,000 square feet and seven tables — and the walls are decorated with album covers. The tables are painted with chalkboard paint and customers are encouraged to get artsy with chalk while waiting for their food. Customer art often gets photographed and put on the Benaddiction’s Facebook page.

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Could Fresno ever have a permanent food truck park?


The SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco is open seven days a week and has permanent seating surrounded by food trucks that rotate. Photo: SoMa StrEat Food Park.

Today’s column is all about food truck news  (including Benaddiction and Casa de Tamales opening restaurants) but it’s what’s happening with Dusty Buns that has me thinking. The hugely popular Dusty Buns Bistro Bus has added a second truck, but it’s not in Fresno. It will be parked at the SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco. It’s a permanent place for food trucks to park for lunch and dinner, open seven days a week. The trucks rotate in and out so there’s some variety. And there’s a truck that sells beer (0ther food truck parks have more permanent local beer vendors). It’s sort of Gazebo Gardens food truck night happening all the time.

Dusty Buns co-owner Dusty Stewart, a driving force behind the Fresno food truck movement, says he’d love to see Fresno get such a place. What do you think? Would that be a good fit for Fresno? Do you think it would attract enough customers to make it worthwhile? Or would the appeal be lost if food trucks start turning into something close to regular restaurants? Where would a good place for it be?

If the street food park concept is still a little vague, let me share a little more about the one Dusty Buns is parking at in San Francisco. It’s got covered and heated seating, free wifi, restrooms, an ATM, bike parking and is pet friendly. Customers can reserve a table or revamped school bus with tables for large groups. There’s TV screens for big games and a projection screen for movie nights, along with other various themed nights.

Buy a KIDS DAY newspaper … from me

I’ve never had a good sense of the passage of time.

If I start a story with “the other day …” there is a good chance that other day was months ago.

So when my one-year anniversary as an official Beehiver come around at the end of February, I only knew because it was also Rogue Festival time and because of … wait for it … KIDS DAY!

Thousands of volunteers will be selling special $1 Kids Day editions of The Bee all over town tomorrow morning. The Bee will have its high-profile reps at Blackstone and Shaw, but I’ll be up before the sun down to the Tower District (the corner of Olive and Van Ness specifically) selling newspapers on behalf of the Beehive.

This is your official invitation to come join in.

As incentive, the guys who run the Benaddiction food truck have agreed stop by and sell breakfast goodies from 6:30-9 a.m. So, come down and get your Kids Day newspaper, then enjoy it with a side of pulled pork, bacon, eggs and barbecue sauce on an English muffin. Because, yum!

Kids Day really is a wonderful community collaboration and your $1 does go a long way in helping the hospital continue its mission, so regardless of whether you see me, please do stop and buy a copy somewhere.

Bacon vs. tofu night-of-gluttony recap


The Beehive’s Joshua Tehee, right, during the tofu vs. bacon pancake-eating contest, next to winner Richard Franco.

After a night of gluttony and conflict, the world is in balance again. Last night’s bacon vs. tofu throwdown at the Grizzlies proved that both hardcore meat lovers and hippie tofu lovers can peacefully co-exist. Bacon won the popular vote from the crowd — 107 to 84. But in a surprise upset, the panel of five judges chose tofu as their winner.

Food truck Benaddiction entered its “heartbreaker” sandwich, a whopping grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, pulled pork, ham, fried egg, four kinds of cheese, hollaindaise sauce and barbecue sauce that Beehiver Joshua Tehee described as “pure gluttonous glory.” But it was the invention of Joe Davis from Eat Street Bistro that wowed the judges. The “chicken” drumstick served on a tofu waffle was made with tofu, garlic mashed potatoes and paneer cheese formed around a baby corn “bone,” rolled in corn flakes, deep fried and topped with a sweet chili sauce. The judges — including some loyal meat lovers — were thoroughly impressed with how delicious the dish was and the originality and presentation.

The heartbreaker is a regular on Benaddiction’s menu and Eat Street plans to keep the tofu dish on the menu for a little while. Blame the heat for our choice if you want, but you can hear an explanation of why tofu won on the video below (and please excuse our sweaty selves). The judges’ panel consisted of me, Josh, Liz Sanchez from Casa de Tamales, “Wild Bill” Shipley, who is co-owner of Clovis’ Scoops, Soups & More and the Old Hotel Bistro, and the bistro’s general manager John Grady.

Now on to the pancake-eating contest. Ten people competed, challenged to eat five, 5-ounce pancakes from Batter Up Pancakes. Five ate pancakes made with bacon in them, five ate tofu pancakes. That’s our our Josh in the photo above — looking like an appetizer, as someone on Facebook said – next to winner Richard Franco. Franco was also the winner of the Ultimate Fair Food Feast-off last year. Since he was eating the tofu pancakes, he wins a free yoga class and an indie-rock CD.

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Pig out on bacon and tofu tonight

baconvstofulogofinalTonight’s the night! The bacon vs. tofu throwdown happens at the Grizzlies game tonight at Chukchansi Park. This evening of gluttony will allow you to vote for which food you think should reign supreme: bacon or tofu. Read all about it here and here.

The event features a giant bacon pancake eating contest and another with a giant pancake made with tofu. Beehiver Josh Tehee is participating. Can’t wait to see how much of that tofu pancake he can cram in.  We’ll also both be on a panel of judges checking out the dishes made by team captains Benaddiction and Eat Street Bistro, judging alongside Hammer from New Rock 104.1, Liz Sanchez from Casa de Tamales and “Wild Bill” Shipley, co-owner of Scoops, Soups & More and The Old Hotel & Bistro in Clovis.

Game goers are encouraged to tweet or Instagram their votes — #teambacon or #teamtofu — (and tag your Instagrams #Instagrizz_fg too). Here’s what you’ll be judging. Keep scrolling to see the scrumdiddlyumptious photos. First is the Heartbreaker from Benaddiction. It features ham, pulled pork, fried egg, barbecue sauce, hollandaise sauce, gruyere cheese, gouda, parmesan, cheddar and Jarlsberg and lots and lots of bacon.

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More food trucks downtown on Fridays

The new Cart Hop food truck event starts today. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., six food vendors will be selling their yummy lunches at Eaton Plaza near the water tower. (See map here.)

Participating are:


Benaddiction, Fresno’s newest food truck, now serving breakfast and lunch

Fresno’s newest food truck, Benaddiction, is rolling. Keep an eye out for the black truck serving breakfast food with a rock n’ roll twist.

It serves breakfast food redesigned to be portable,  including the French toast bites that are dipped in pulverized Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal before cooking. Benaddiction’s specialty is the eggs Benedict sandwich, and the truck has several takes on the dish, all with musical names like “The Clapton,” a fried egg, bacon and hollandaise sauce sandwich served on a fresh-made English muffin. See its breakfast menu here and its lunch menu here.

Founder James Caples, a former restaurant manager, and chef Jason Valencia, are behind Benaddiction. You can find out more about the truck at its website here, or its Facebook page here.

Benaddiction is still building its schedule, but keep reading to see its schedule and some photos from the Manchester Center farmers market stop on Fridays.

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Fres-Know: Because you can’t get all your Fresno news from Conan O’Brien

WATCH THIS: Local musician Bobby Joe Neely’s “Obama Song.” [YouTube]

NEWS: Central High b-ball coach faces DUI, manslaughter charges. [The Bee]

NEWS: Memphis gets schooled on fighting gangs from Fresno PD. [WREG]

HA! Conan Night at Grizzlies — Conans, O’Briens and redheads free. [Grizzlies]

IT CAME FROM FRESNO: Draft Night fantasy football app. [iTunes]

SPORTS: Derek Carr named preseason player of the year. [Sports Buzz]

SURVEY SAYS: Fresno makes Forbes list for buying vs. renting. [Forbes]

WIN: Tickets to see The Black Keys at Save Mart Center. [Fresno Famous]

GOOD READ: Story behind breakfast food truck Benaddiction. [Famous]


ANGRY YELPER OF THE WEEK: Get work, Don Pepe ladies! [Yelp]

GOOD READ: Anthony Taylor on the “Inspirado” of Pecha Kucha. [Windsong]

DID THEY JUST SAY FRESNO: The literary edition. [Opinion Talk]

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Beer Olympics in Fresno on Aug. 4. [Facebook]

COOL: Local band Strange Vine gets spin from Adam Carolla. [Twitter]

Fres-Know: Bacon. Look, we put bacon in the headline

KICKSTART: Benaddiction, a breakfast food truck for Fresno. [Kickstarter]

COMING SOON: A Color Me Rad 5K to Fresno. [Color Me Rad]

YUM: Summer eats to cool you down. [TasteFresno]

GOOD READ: The story of a 90-year-old ex-rodeo clown from Sanger. [The Bee]

LISTEN: Latest Dorktown podcast with Quiet Americans. [The Fresnan]

LOOK AT THIS: The last remaining local drive-in movie theaters. [The Bee]

FRESH: Fresno Grizzlies jerseys/caps for “Super Hero Night” [Facebook]

WORD: From Fresno hater to Fresno lover. [Fresno Guerilla Foodism]

BLOGGINGS: “Why I LOVE Downtown Fresno” [Fresno Chamber]

SPORTS: Fresno State slugger wins college home run derby. [The Bee]

NICE: Twee Boutique’s Fresno tote bags. [Facebook]

SPOTTED: Chipotle coming to Shaw and Cedar. [My Instagram]