Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

This again?: Club Imperio to open at Granite Park

club-imperioIt’s another night club for the old Cabo Wabo venue at Granite Park. According to this story from the Business Journal, Club Imperio will be opening in the 15,000 square-foot space next weekend.

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard any news out of Granite Park, the commercial complex — on Cedar avenues near Shields — that was home to the ill-fated Cabo Wabo night club in 2008. If you remember, the center got a TON of buzz when it was originally developed, especially when rocker Sammy Haggar came on board with his tequila-themed night club.

Of course, that venture quickly fell apart.

The space has never found its footing. Several businesses have tried in a series of re-openings (as The Edge, Club Rome and most recently Club Eva). Mostly, the businesses have flown under the radar if not floundered altogether.

Here is a handy info graphic.

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Can Club Eva exorcise the ghosts of Granite Park nightclubs?

Club Eva is the latest incarnation of Granite Park’s oft-troubled nightclub. What started as Cabo Wabo, once hosted Kim Kardashian as The Edge and eventually became Club Rome, is now its sixth club in less than five years.

Eva has been in “soft opening” mode for a couple weeks now, mostly catering to the Hmong New Year crowd and hosting a New Year’s Eve party that got scathing reviews on Facebook. But Saturday night is the club’s “premier,” and with Roe now closed, Eva certainly has opportunity.

We’ll be watching to see if Club Eva can make things work in a space — a very nice space, mind you — where so many other clubs have failed. Until then, let’s all reminisce about the Granite Park nightclub failures with this handy infographic.

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So long Victory Grill, hello Me-N-Ed’s take on Mexican food


Despite all the other turmoil and chaos at Granite Park, we could always count on Victory Grill.

No matter how much drama was at that nightclub, we always knew that the sporty Me-N-Ed’s offshoot would be there for us. Right, Victory Grill?


Sadly, not even Victory Grill — the longest-lasting survivor in the Mess That Milt Built — could be a winner at Granite Park. Though it made a good go of it. The Bee’s Bethany Clough reported on Tuesday that Victory Grill has closed and will be replaced next week by a new restaurant called Revolución Tequila Bar & Cocina, which opens May 5 from the same ownership group.

From Clough’s post:

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Yes, Rome Nightclub is still open — but for how long?


Amidst public speculation about its fate, the doors of Fresno’s popular Rome Nightclub remain open. There’s a new general manager in place who is stressing that Rome is still in business and moving forward. In fact, tonight, it hosts a concert with veteran rapper Spice 1.

Jered Brower, the door and floor manager at the club since it re-opened as Rome last year, is the new GM. He told me the club, “is all about moving forward towards a bigger and better future.”

Brower replaces former GM Pino Borelli, who had been in charge at Rome since its inception. He was fired over the weekend, prompting widespread chatter that Rome had, in fact, closed its doors.

Just how long Rome stays open, though, could depend on the fate of its liquor license — which is where things get complicated.

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What did you think of Club Rome?

With the long weekend behind us, hopefully people have had a chance to digest Club Rome, the new hotspot at Granite Park. Despite some opening-day chaos, the club opened its doors on Friday night and, from the look of things, had big crowds both Friday and Saturday. (If you missed it, here’s a good Bee story about the club’s opening, its ownership and how Kirk Vartanian swears he’s not a part of it.)

So what did you think about the new club? Was it everything it was hyped up to be? It already lasted longer than The Edge, do you think it showed more promise than Cabo Wabo? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Club Rome.

The celebrity guests on Friday night were rapper Traphik and “American Idol” contestant Andrew Garcia. Local celebs such as Kasey Kahl and Alicia Coates were there too. This coming Saturday, Justin Bobby from “The Hills” will be at Club Rome apparently. Club Rome will also have its first live music night on March 2. Details on that below.

Here are some photos from opening weekend by local photog Casper Munoz.


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Granite Park’s Club Rome opening tonight, despite arson attempt


Seems like you can’t have a Granite Park nightclub opening without a little bit of 11th hour chaos.

In the case of Club Rome — which opens tonight and takes over the old Cabo Wabo/Edge space — that came in the form an early morning arson attempt.

Here’s the news from The Bee’s Jim Guy:

A new nightclub in the troubled Granite Park development will go ahead with its debut tonight despite a bungled attempt to firebomb the building this morning.

Club Rome, which is opening at the site of the failed Cabo Wabo and The Edge nightclubs in east-central Fresno, was the target of an arson attempt about 4 a.m. this morning, according to the Fresno Fire Department. Firefighters found flames at the front of the building and heavy smoke inside.

Club Rome employees were cleaning up damage this morning and entertainment director Lewis Everk said damage was minimal.

“The fire did not stop us,” he said.

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First it was Cabo Wabo, then it was The Edge, now it’s … Rome Nightclub

New life is coming to the old Cabo Wabo that eventually became the one-night-only Edge nightclub. It’s called Rome and, according to this flier that started circulating on Facebook this morning, it opens next weekend. Here’s hoping it can be avoid being a complete disaster like that space’s two previous incarnations.


I’ll try to get more info on what’s planned for Rome Nightclub soon.

Sammy Hagar responds to Cabo Wabo Fresno lawsuit

Last week, Fresno’s failed Cabo Wabo and the fractured relationship between developer Milt Barbis and rocker Sammy Hagar was thrust into the spotlight yet again. Barbis filed a $589 million lawsuit against Hagar, blaming the club’s demise on the ex-Van Halen star.

Today, Hagar’s business manager sent this following statement to The Bee:

Sammy Hagar statement to the Fresno Bee — 10-18-10

“At this time I can’t comment on any of the specific claims brought in the frivolous legal papers filed by Milton Barbis, but anyone who has followed the issues of mismanagement around the entire Granite Park development will not be surprised to learn that the accusations are unfounded. I had hoped that this unhappy experience for me and my fans in the Fresno area was put to rest quite some time ago, but Mr. Barbis refuses to accept this.

“I have no doubt that my fans in Fresno understand this situation and know that no matter what, I love this town and the people in it. It was a great feeling to be back a couple of weeks ago to rock again with all the fans!! I am anxious for the facts to come to light on this situation, so we can all put this behind us and get back to what really matters — keeping the party rocking in Fresno.”

Peace – Sammy

Barbis sues Hagar … for $589 million?!?


Thought we’d heard the end of the Fresno Wabo/Milt Barbis/Sammy Hagar drama?

Not even close.

A big headline from today’s Bee, plucked right outta ridiculousville, is that Granite Park developer Barbis is suing Hagar, the famous rocker and Cabo Wabo namesake. For how much you ask? Oh, only 589 million. Ridiculousville.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, names a few others too, but the main target is Hagar, who was just in Fresno last week, playing at the fair. According to Barbis’ lawsuit, everything that went wrong with Fresno Wabo (spoiler alert: A LOT went wrong) was Sammy’s fault.

It’s worth noting that we’ve see this kind of drama before — between Sammy’s previous suit against Barbis, Barbis’ bankruptcy and a Granite Park raid by the IRS and state department of insurance.

This new lawsuit does give us some more behind-the-scenes, soap opera-like, play-by-play. Here’s the juicy stuff, as reported by The Bee’s John Ellis:

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Concert News: Sammy Hagar is on his way back to Fresno

Sammy Hagar 2.jpg

This is not an April Fool’s joke. I swear to you it’s not. The Big Fresno Fair has announced a date with rocker Sammy Hagar to open this year’s run of the fair.

Hagar — the ex-Van Halen singer, known as The Red Rocker — will perform Oct. 6.

Hagar, of course, has a tumultuous history with Fresno. He partnered with Fresno developer Milt Barbis to open one of his Cabo Wabo restaurants at Granite Park in August 2008. Hagar played one concert there in October 2008, but soon after he severed ties with Fresno and eventually sued Barbis. Fresno Wabo’s failure was the first domino to fall for the now much-maligned Granite Park development.

No word yet on ticket prices, but they’re expected to go on sale this summer. For now, let’s all just wonder what Sammy’s gonna say when he comes back.

Only YOU can bring KISS to Fresno

Rock band KISS announced a cool tour gimmick today — fans are going to route the band’s upcoming U.S. tour through votes at So if you want KISS to come to Fresno, you have to vote.

According to a press release from the band’s people:

No matter where the fans say–from stadiums to cornfields–if there are enough votes, KISS will be there! And in order to keep the competition fair for smaller cities, final site selection will weigh population size versus total votes.

Voting started at Noon today, with a video announcement at So how ’bout we all band together and vote for KISS to play at the big empty lot in front of Cabo Wabo?

Playing a little Fresno catch-up …

Greetings! I’m back in Fresno and back at The Beehive after a week-long jaunt to Boston. As I’ve been catching up with what I missed here in The ‘No, I thought I’d share a few things I found interesting:

  • “Hockey returns to Fresno” is the headline I’ve seen in a few places, talking about the announcement of a new Fresno hockey team — The Fresno Monsters. That name sure is more intimidating than Falcons. And the logo makes me think of energy drinks. Here’s hoping Modesto starts a team called The Aliens and the two play each other.
  • We haven’t talked about Cabo Wabo in a while — but here’s an update: The lawsuit between Fresno developer Milt Barbis and rocker Sammy Hagar has been settled. Unfortch for us, it’s “confidential,” so no new sordid details to laugh at.
  • You probably know this by now, but Fresno made it onto the front of the New York Times again. (People were talking about this even all the way out in Boston). It wasn’t exactly the best news — a look at Fresno homeless camps. FYI, today’s issue of The Bee has some more Fresno homelessness reading too.

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