New restaurant Guri’s GrubHouse is open. This restaurant, at 1713 E. Shaw Ave. in the former Fajita Fiesta spot, is a farm-to-table gastropub. To find out more about what those terms mean, and all the creative dishes on the menu at Guri’s, check out my column about the place. Or, watch this video for an introduction to Guri’s.
Lots of restaurant news to share today. New restaurants are opening and existing restaurants are doing new things. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening in the Fresno food world.
Menchie’s frozen yogurt is scheduled to open the first of many shops in the Fresno area today. The shop is at 3090 W. Shaw Ave. in the same shopping center as Target next to Jimmy John’s. The grand opening celebration is Saturday and will feature free frozen yogurt, face painting, a balloon artist and other fun stuff. Expect to see a lot more of Menchie’s, as they’re planning to open shops in the Marketplace at El Paseo at Herndon Avenue and Highway 99, and in the Target shopping center at Herndon and Willow avenues.
Frankie’s 568 in the Tower District has opened for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. This is the restaurant that opened last spring in the former Cafe Rousseau spot and is run by the family behind several of the DiCicco’s restaurants. The menu features pasta and pizza and you can see it online here. (Yes, you can eat penne alla vodka pasta at lunch.)
Facebook was buzzing yesterday when Pita Kabob, a gastropub in Visalia, posted this as its status: “To the person who stole the California republic bear picture and frame in the men’s bathroom. It’s all good, you needed it more than us, you could’ve just asked.”
The theft of the image of the bear that’s on the California flag inspired tons of comments on the Facebook post, many of them unleashing their rage at the thief. At one point, whoever is behind the Pita Kabob Facebook post sought to calm things down, saying, “It’s all good everyone. We have a feeling of who the person is. Unfortunately people act silly when they drink…..”
But it has a happy ending. This morning Pita Kabob posted that someone slid the picture under the door with a note that said, “Wasn’t funny. I apologize,” with a frown face. Even better is the flood of positive comments on that second post, things like “Faith in humanity restored!” and “Awesome! I love it when people who do rotten things make real amends. Good on ya anonymous person.” All is right with the world now.
Here’s an unusual place to host a wine tasting: The Meux Home Museum. The lawn of that gorgeous 1888 Victorian home downtown will be the site of Grocery Outlet’s first of many monthly wine tastings beginning Friday. The event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is a fundraiser for the museum and costs $10. No reservations or tickets needed, just make sure you bring your ID no matter how old you are because you won’t get in without it. Grocery Outlet is donating all the wine.
The event was inspired by Chris Caillier, the local owner/operator of the new Grocery Outlet across the intersection at Tulare and R streets. “I looked at that mansion and said, ‘We need to have a wine tasting there,’” he said. The store is partnering with the West Shaw Grocery Outlet for this event and all the area Grocery Outlet stores will be involved in future monthly wine tastings. They will eventually include food, live music and beer tasting.
It’s also a way for Grocery Outlet to bring some attention to its wine and beer department. Like many of its products, the stores gets overruns of wine when wineries have too much or change a label, for example. Caillier says the department is a good for way for wine drinkers who want to experiment but not spend a lot of money. Most bottles cost between $4.99 and $6.99 with the occasional $1.99 bottle.
Most of the beer for sale at Grocery Outlet isn’t overstock, but comes directly from the sellers. The stores sell some interesting craft beers, including Tioga-Sequioa beer and Firestone (and I hear Riley’s is often sold at local Grocery Outlets too).
Interest in craft beer is growing like crazy so it’s no surprise that Fresno now has its very own beer blogger. Whose Craft debuted this spring focusing on craft beer and the Central Valley. (The name is a play on craft beer and the TV show “Doctor Who.”) The blog features rundowns of regional beer festivals, spotlights local breweries and has lots of information about the holy-crap-there’s-a-lot-to-learn world of craft beer. You can read it here and follow the Facebook page here.
Behind the blog is 24-year-old Kelly Chandler. She graduated from Fresno State last year and really likes beer. So much so that she started a blog about it to share everything she’s learning. The blog is written in a way that newbies or people who are just dabbling in craft beer can understand.
Kelly is not the typical image of a person in the craft beer world. For some reason that seems to be men with big beards. (Seriously, what is the connection between craft beer and beards?) Women make up just 37% of the craft beer market. Anyway, earlier this month she launched Whose Crafty Ladies, a group of mostly women who will meet up monthly to chat about beer and yes, drink it. The first get-together is tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at House of Pendragon in Clovis. You can keep tabs on future meet-ups via the Facebook page.
American Craft Beer Week may seem like an elaborate excuse to get faced on huge amounts of high-end hopped-up brews (that being the stock-and-trade of most American craft breweries). It’s more than that though.
The week-long celebration (which kicked off yesterday) is opportunity to support and celebrate the small, independent businesses (in this case both the breweries and the retailers that stock them) that advance the area’s beer culture.
Yes, there is such a thing as beer culture.
To understand Fresno’s unique beer culture, you can listen to The Perfect Pour podcast. Then, go visit these craft-beer bars/restaurants/taprooms or liquor stores (it’s a top 10 in no order and totally based on my personal choice):
The House of Pendragon tasting room is open in Clovis. You can read all about the place and the locally made beer it serves in today’s column. But what I didn’t have room for in the column is all the cool features of the tasting room itself. All the wood you see is reclaimed wood, mostly from the owner’s family farm in Sanger. The wall of wood with a big metal sign is the first thing people notice when they walk in.
Both were done by Sean Dempsey of The Earth Builders (you may have seen his work around town. Some of it is at Peeve’s Public House). Pendragon owner Tommy Caprelian took Dempsey on a tour of the farm to scour for materials and he tells me Dempsey got a bit excited. So, some of the wood you see on the walls comes from old grape trays. The bar is made from old barn wood and its supports are the curving wood of old wine barrels. Wine barrels also serve as tables. There’s another table in the corner with an old metal conveyer that boxes of grapes once rolled across. Keep scrolling for a picture of the table.
3. Woofstock 3
Doggies need love, too. 4. Fresno Ideawork’s Day
Fresno Ideaworks and the Grizzlies introduced us to the idea of “the maker” last year. Fan fans of robots and cardboard costume crafting.
5. One Night Stanza
Twenty-five of Fresno’s best poets — both the writer and performer types –share their best work.
1. Vintage Days
If you can find the lineup of live music, it’s a doozy!
Fresno brewery Tioga-Sequoia is releasing its Rush Hour breakfast stout this weekend. Hold on a minute. A breakfast beer? While die-hard beer fans are probably rolling their eyes right now (yes, breakfast stouts are a thing), this is a new concept for a lot of us. I’m sure there’s people out there who drink beer for breakfast. (And they may not be who you think. I’ve heard several stories of doctors or emergency medical folks who work the night shift popping open a cold one at the end of their shift — which just happens to be at 6 a.m.) But you certainly don’t have to drink it for breakfast. This beer is more about pairing two flavors together — the chocolately sweet stout with the taste of roasted coffee beans, says Tioga-Sequoia marketing manager Michael Cruz.
“It’s like you’re drinking breakfast,” he says. “When you pop open a bottle and pour it into your glass, it’s like smelling a cup of coffee.”
The brewery partnered with local coffee roaster and coffee shop Cafe Corazon in the Tower District. Owner Leo Rios got some hard-to-find Colombian beans that he roasted specifically for the beer. Tioga-Sequoia cold brewed them along with the beer and the result is the limited release of Rush Hour (rush hour referring to both the time of day and the rush you get from caffeine in coffee).
There’s some cool new places in Fresno gearing up to open that I’m dying to tell you about. It’s a little too early to do a full newspaper column on some of them, but Beehive readers like to be in the know, so here’s a preview.
Richie’s Pizza & Hot Dogs. This Tower District restaurant should be opening any day now. It will sell pizza by the slice and whole pies, along with gourmet hot dogs. It’s in the space that used to be Scoop’s ice cream.
Chili’s is building a new restaurant in the former Baker’s Square spot at 3585 W. Shaw Ave. near Marty Avenue. Chili’s isn’t talking, so don’t we don’t when the restaurant will be up and running, but the building permit confirms that it is a Chili’s being built.
Changes are happening at Pinot Wine Bar in the Tower District, including the addition of lunch. Taste Kitchen, the food side of the business led by chef Martin Franco, is now serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Now you can get hamburgers, soups, salads, garlic fries and that grilled cheese royale with red wine onion jam.
Pinot also started opening at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. and has expanded its beer selection. It now has six beers on tap and 20 bottled beers, including lots of craft beer and familiar ones such as Bud Light and Coors. Pinot has always had a full bar, but has recently hired a new bar manager who “knows everything there is to know about beer and spirits,” and is doing a lot more with cocktails, says owner Daniel Renteria.
It’s starting to sound more like a regular restaurant and bar, isn’t it? I asked Renteria about that and he said Pinot will always be a wine bar. That’s his passion. But like any business, they’re adjusting to serve customers. He noticed wine sales dropped off at 10 p.m., with people opting for beer and cocktails, so they beefed that up.
Pinot is also hosting the Tower Beer Run Jan. 25. It’s kinda like a wine walk, but with craft beer. The event starts on Pinot’s patio, where participants pay $1 for a small plastic beer glass and number to wear (like in a marathon or a run, get it?). Participants can then get a small glass of beer for $1 each at 10 participating bars and restaurants. Details here. Presumably there won’t be any actual running involved.
I bet there’s some celebrating going on at Peeve’s Public House & Local Market right now. The business met its Kickstarter goal around lunchtime Friday, meaning it will move forward with opening Fresno’s first market carrying only local foods. The market is designed to be a showcase for Fresno foods and give a boost to its fledgling food businesses. You can read more about the plans here. Construction is scheduled to start Monday and the peeps at Peeve’s hope to have the market open by Nov. 24, just in time for Thanksgiving.
If Peeve’s didn’t reach its goal of raising $18,500 in pledges by Saturday, Kickstarter wouldn’t give them any of the money. As of Friday morning, it was still about $2,000 short. Fundraising on the page continues until Saturday afternoon (they’re at $19,106 as I write this). Any extra money raised will go toward paint and decor.
It’s been pretty cool to watch people proactively take on this cause without the folks at Peeve’s even asking. One customer pledged to get 10 people to donate $100 each. A taco night fundraiser by James Collier brought in lots of money and awareness. Raizana Teas held a fundraiser too. The sense of community and loyalty that surrounds Peeve’s is pretty impressive and it paid off today.
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.
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?
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.
UPDATE: This event is actually TONIGHT (Thursday). If you thought you missed it, you still have time.
Image borrowed with gratitude from BC’s.
An admission: Until a few weeks ago, I had never been to BC’s Pizza and Beer. But people talked about its selection of import and craft beer, the hard-to-find stuff that most places have never heard of, much less carry.
Those people were right. I was not only impressed by the beer selection, I was a bit overwhelmed.
That’s preface to The Green Flash Tap Takeover happening at 4 p.m. at BC’s tonight. Green Flash is a San Diego brewery that has some of my favorite beers. The Double Stout is particularly amazing. Tonight, on tap, BC’s with have six Green Flash beers:
Green Flash 1st Anniversary American Strong Ale
Green Flash 5th Anniversary Double IPA
Green Flash 8th Anniversary Surf’s Up Symposium IPA
Green Flash Palate Wrecker Double IPA
Green Flash Le Freak Belgian Style IPA
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Order a pint and you get to keep the glass because that’s how these things work. If you go, please tell us all about it.
From the turnout at Tioga Sequoia‘s second anniversary party (and the first for the Ozmosis radio show), it looks as if Fresno may be quickly embracing the craft/micro-brew scene. The crowd at the brewery’s downtown headquarters (just south of the Chukchansi Park) was large and diverse and for the most part not stumbling drunk, which was a welcome surprise given that this was a beer event and what I’d heard about similar events in the past.
Fresno Brewing Company has done a good job of establishing itself as a hub for the craft beer set (also as a more-than-decent music venue, but that’s a different post). For those who care about things like IBUs and ABV percentages, this is the place to go and last night was perfect case in point. The Napoletano brothers (Matt and Nick) took over for the evening and showed off some of their favorite brews, including some kind of super-special keg of Tioga-Sequia’s Sugar Pine Cocoa-Vanilla Porter. I had the Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewery.
There was also some music, fire-eating and general good times had.