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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Fres-Know: In your face, Fresno

OH SNAP: “Dunk of the year” last night at Save Mart Center. Against the ‘Dogs. [CBS Sports]

HOWEVER: Fresno State football an “early” top 20 for 2013. [USA Today]

GRRRRRR: Fresno fourth unhappiest city for workers. We’re pissed. [Career Bliss]

BALLIN’: Warren Buffet affiliate buys local real estate company. [The Bee]

NEWS: Man jumps to his death from California Hotel. [The Bee]

HEAD’S UP: Gonna be a cold weekend. Bundle up. [The Bee]

RYAN BEATTY FAME WATCH: Here he is performing for Billboard. [Billboard]

SPORTS: Tyler Bray — Kingsburgian and Tennessee QB —  declares for NFL draft. [The Bee]

WATNEY WATCH: Ex-KMPHer Heidi Watney debuted Wednesday on MLB Network. [MLB]

RADIO SCENE: New programming at Soft Rock 98.9 and KMJ. [The Bee]

GOOD READ: “The Grizzlies are ready for their close-up.” [MiLB]

FROM THE BLOGROLL: The Cured Ham on Iron Bird Cafe’s closure. [The Cured Ham]

Iron Bird Cafe is open again

UPDATE: Here’s more — pics, menu, etc. — from Bethany Clough on the news blog.

ORIGINAL POST: If you see a little extra pep in the step of downtowners today, it might be because Iron Bird Cafe is open again. The tumultuous story of Iron Bird — from beloved Mural District centerpiece to yet another downtown failure — starts a new chapter under the direction of Ann Liao, who owns the Teazer World Tea Market shops.

You can read more about the philosophy behind the new Iron Bird Cafe here and here. Good news: At least the IBC folks won’t be teasing coffee lovers anymore by posting pics like this on Facebook.

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Coming soon: The return of Iron Bird Cafe

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The resurrection of Iron Bird Cafe — the Mural District hot spot turned combusted coffee hub — is imminent, reports The Bee’s Bethany Clough.

We already knew that the ownership from Teazer World Tea Market is taking over Iron Bird Cafe, but this week we learned that management hopes to open the week of Jan. 15.

In Bethany’s Wednesday story, we learned a number of things others about the new IBC, including:

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2011: The Beehive Year in Review

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Another year in the books, another year of blogging here at The Beehive.

So, as is customary in our annual “Year in Review,” you’ll find below our most viewed and most commented posts of the year, our most popular recurring features, which contests you tried most feverishly to win and who our most frequent commenters were.

We thank you all for clicking, reading, commenting, sharing and so on. Here’s to a nice 2012 for everyone out there — even you trolls.

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Iron Bird Cafe lives on

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Downtown coffee drinkers can look forward to life with Iron Bird Cafe again.

The shop — a centerpiece for Fresno’s burgeoning “Mural District” — closed in July, but a new owner appears to be coming to the rescue.

According to Alisa Manjarrez from local foodie site TasteFresno, Iron Bird Cafe will be re-opening under the direction of Ann McAtee, who owns the various Teazer World Tea Markets around town.

It’ll keep the IBC name but McAtee is “adding a few twists” and hopes to open by the end of the year, according to Manjarrez.

We’ll keep an eye on this and share more info as it’s known.

PREVIOUSLY
- Iron Bird Cafe closing its doors on Sunday
- Iron Bird Cafe: It’s not all good in the ‘hood

F.U.S.E. Fest 2011: It’s coming

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It’s about time we start talking about this year’s Fresno Urban Sound Experience — or simply, F.U.S.E. Fest, which is, believe it or not, right around the corner.

For the unfamiliar: the festival is a celebration of Fresno’s local music scene, with dozens of bands playing at a various downtown venues for one all-you-can-listen-to ticket price.

A few more bits of info to get you salivating:

DATES: Yes, that’s dates, as in plural. This year, the festival expands to two days — Sept. 30 (a Friday) and Oct. 1 (a Saturday). This is year No. 4 for the festival, so it’s nice to see it growing at a steady pace.

VENUES: On Friday, the festival announced its venues, and it’s more obvious why they’re splitting into two nights. There are two clusters of venues separated by a big chunk of downtown. Organizers figured it’s best to have one day with Chukchansi Park-vicinity venues and another with the Mural District venues. That schedules out to Club One Casino, Karma, Joe’s Steakhouse and Heroes on Sept. 30 and Fulton 55, Tokyo Garden, the African-American Museum’s outdoor stage on Oct. 1. Iron Bird Cafe was supposed to be a venue –we’ll have to see what happens with that.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Once again this year, the F.U.S.E. folks have set up a Kickstarter campaign to support the festival. Like last year, there are a number of rewards for people who donate — from exclusive festival swag to big corporate sponsorships. They have a goal of $4,444 (it being the fourth year and all) to be reached in 44 days. More in the video below.

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Iron Bird Cafe closing its doors on Sunday

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Iron Bird Cafe — which opened last year as a hip downtown destination but has had a tumultuous couple of recent months — will close Sunday.

“Due to the unexpected loss of our finance person, keeping the doors open in this economy would just not the right move,” says co-owner Michael Canton.

The cafe is open until 2 p.m. today and Sunday. Canton said employees were notified on Friday night by e-mail that the cafe would close.

Gary Christensen, another of Iron Bird Cafe’s owners, and the one whom patrons would often see working inside the cafe, said it was he who decided to cut ties with the cafe and its ownership group (there were three owners and two investors).

Reached on Saturday morning, Christensen said there were “different financial problems during the whole course of the cafe” and that “it got to be too much.”

This may not mean the ultimate end of Iron Bird Cafe. Canton is hopeful he can find a buyer to take over. He says one potential buyer might keep everything — from the name to the employees.

“The most painful thing for me would be to just watch it shut down completely,” says Canton, who previously owned Javawava, across from Fresno High. “We already have a few people who are interested in buying it. I have absolutely no clue at this point what will happen. I would like to sell it. I would like to see it stay open. I think downtown needs it.”

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[UPDATE] Iron Bird Cafe: It’s not all good in the ‘hood

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UPDATE: Iron Bird Cafe has addressed some of the concerns raised by Beehive commenters in this statement on its web site. A few headlines: Staff will be re-trained and quicker service with be emphasized. New menu items will be rolled out as well.

The bottom line is that we are listening to you and are committed to being a long-term fixture in downtown Fresno.

The official response comes at the urging of at least one local blogger (who happens to be a neighbor), and after an online survey started to circulate about what people would like to see at IBC.

What do you think of all this? Steps in the right direction? Too late?

ORIGINAL POST, 6/23: If you had asked me 24 hours ago to name one downtown business that had things going in the right direction, I probably would have said Iron Bird Cafe. Apparently, that’s not the case.

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‘Nobody’s afraid to come downtown anymore’

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Sunday’s Bee had a good story from intern Victoria Guida about the rise of Fresno’s Mural District or Uptown or the Cultural Arts District — or whatever the cool kids are calling that section of downtown these days. As I read it, one quote jumped off the page at me:

“Nobody’s afraid to come downtown anymore.”

That was from area business owner Carla Barraza, whose point of view offers a good framework for a story about the makeover in the area. She knew it when it was dangerous place, and now she’s seeing it transform thanks to Fulton 55, Iron Bird Lofts, the numerous other housing developments and the businesses they’ve attracted.

But it was that one statement of hers — not just because of the obvious hyperbole — that I dwelled on for a while. As you’d expect, the oft-belligerent comments on fresnobee.com took exception, spouting off with statement such as:

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To-Do Tonight: G-Funk, Death Marches, Death Matches and more

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Rapper/producer Warren G is at Rome Nightclub tonight as part of its hip-hop throwback concert series.

Best known for “Regulate” — which anointed both him and buddy Nate Dogg as hip-hop stars in the ’90s — Warren G is considered West Coast rap royalty more for his affiliations with Dr. Dre (his stepbrother), Snoop Dogg and the G-Funk sound than his own catalog, which has been inconsistent at best after his stellar debut album.

You can expect Warren G to pay tribute to his fallen friend Nate Dogg, who died in March after years of health problems.

Tonight’s show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $20 in advance and can be purchased from eventbrite.com. They’ll cost $25 at the door.

Next up in Rome’s hip-hop concert series is Bay Area vet E-40, who performs next Thursday.

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To-Do Tonight: The best Thursday night of the year

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If anyone in my direct vicinity today dare say “There’s nothing to do in Fresno,” they will get smacked. Especially today.

Today is the best Thursday night of the year. There’s wayyyyy too much going on tonight. I need at least three of me to take it all in.

Here’s a look:

Fliers and more details down below

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Going to ‘Wicked?’ Here’s where you can eat

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If you’re going to see “Wicked” — as thousands of Fresnans will each day until April 17 — a common question might be, “Where can we eat downtown?” That’s why The Bee put together this map of nearby downtown eateries that are open for dinner during “Wicked’s” run.

It’s also opening weekend for The Grizzlies (first game is actually Thursday night), so that adds even more potentially hungry people downtown. Here’s a story about how downtown restaurants are trying to lure new customers.

Our map — with the exception of Downtown Bistro, which is on special hours this week — should be helpful all baseball season too.

PDF: Downtown dinner options near Saroyan Theatre

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Beehive Birthday VI: The countdown is on

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Are you as excited about Beehive Birthday VI as we are? We’re just a couple days away now, and we’re hard at work making sure Thursday night’s party is going to be a blast.

Here are some cool new developments since we last talked about the event:

It’s worth repeating: The event is FREE to attend. (Bring some money for drinks and food). It runs 6-10 p.m. 21+.

On Rustica Kollection and the uptick of Iron Bird Lofts shops

I’m really excited about about all the new businesses opening lately around Iron Bird Lofts. Of course, Iron Bird Cafe is the main attraction down there, but a handful of other local consumer-aimed businesses are opening up too.

I made a note about this in a recent column about reasons to be excited about downtown in 2011, but figured this is worth expounding upon a bit.

Recently opened Iron Bird shops include Faithful & True Tattoo Studio (which has its grand opening tonight for ArtHop), Iron Bird Beauty Bar, The Dungeon MMA gym and Rustica Kollection. And let’s not forget that Iron Bird Massage has been open for a while too. Add Fulton 55 right across the street, and it’s a happening little area.

One place that’s getting a fair amount of attention is Rustica Kollection, it’s a boutique right across from Iron Bird Cafe that sells gifts, crafts, accessories and clothing with a wordly flair. All of its good are “fair trade” and hand-made. Fresno Famous has a nice feature on the shop, if you want more of the back-story. I stopped in there last week during one of my trips to Fulton 55 and took some photos to share here on The Beehive. Pictured below is owner Pablo Antinao, who moved to Fresno from Chile seven years ago.

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The Week Ahead: George & Reba, more Fulton 55, Del, stand-up and ‘Sex & Candy’

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GEORGE & REBA: The biggest names in town this week? That’s an easy one. Country megastars George Strait and Reba, who share the stage at Save Mart Center on Friday. Tickets here. The opener is Lee Ann Womack, who took to Twitter yesterday looking for dinner recommendations. Let’s hope she gets better answers than Apolo Anton Ohno.

FULTON 55, ROUND TWO: Will weekend two of Fulton 55 match up to opening weekend? This time around, it’s a couple touring acts — blues band Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers on Friday and the Ska Parade 20th Anniversary Tour (w/ Monkey, Go-Go 13, Warsaw Poland Brothers, MC Tazy Phyllipz, King Sugar and more) on Saturday.

ALSO IN TOWN: Tour stops this week include The White Buffalo (Wednesday at The Cellar Door), The Wood Brothers (Thursday at The Cellar Door), Three Bad Jacks (Thursday at Audie’s), Del the Funky Homosapien (Friday at The Cellar Door), Killola (Friday at Audie’s) and Marcy Playground (Saturday at Swigg’s).

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2010 Rewind: Favorite Fresno addition?

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It’s the last week of the year, a perfect time for The Beehive to look back at our favorite moments of 2010.

We’ll have posts each day this week on different topics. We started on Monday with our favorite event and continue today with our favorite Fresno addition. A business? A website? An event? Anything new and wonderful within our community? Check out our picks, then leave your own in the comments.

MIKE OZ: I don’t even drink coffee, but my favorite local addition is still Iron Bird Cafe. A thriving third space where people could work, hang out, hold events, have community meetings, etc. is exactly what downtown needed. It’s already seeing results. The Iron Bird Lofts, of which the cafe is the centerpiece, has quickly turned into a thriving part of our growing downtown. Well done, Iron Birders.

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Hide & Seek Gallery pops up with another chance to shop local

We’re already talking about gift-giving and buying local, so this event happening tonight fits in nicely. Hide & Seek Gallery is having a pop-up art sale tonight next to Iron Bird Cafe.

Hide & Seek is far from a normal gallery. It sets up somewhere, has a show for a day, then picks up and leaves. like it was never there. Called “pop-up shows,” these events are sort of like an art gallery mixed with a flash mob. Tonight’s event is all about shopping though, with a number of great local artists selling art work and other gifts.

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RELATED: All Things Fresno, the Fresnocentric gift shop next to Warnors Theatre, is having a holiday open house 12-4 p.m. Saturday.

Fulton 55: Recap of the community meeting

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The community meeting on Wednesday night to talk about in-the-works music venue Fulton 55 was far less antagonistic than might have been expected if you read the back-and-forth here on The Beehive.

A group of about 60-70 people — neighbors, musicians, downtown supporters — gathered at Iron Bird Cafe as Fulton 55 general manager Tony Martin went over his plans for the venue, and eventually turned it over for questions. Since some neighboring business and churches have already expressed their disapproval for the up-to-500-capacity concert venue, it seemed this is where things might be explosive. But not really.

“When we open, it’s going to be all about working together,” Martin said.

Only Stephen Carlson, pastor of nearby Bethel Lutheran Church, spoke in opposition of the venue (video of his exchange with Martin below) — citing many of the reasons we’ve already heard, parking being foremost.

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Fulton 55: The controversy has begun

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While the local music community is bubbling with anticipation for in-the-works local music venue Fulton 55, not all the club’s neighbors are happy.

Fulton 55 — scheduled to open in December at the corner of Fulton and Divisadero streets — has drawn the ire of some neighboring churches, who have filed complaints about the venue opening close to them.

Ultimately, a planning commission meeting on Dec. 1 (it was originally scheduled for last week) will make the call.

But first, Fulton 55 is inviting the community to an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Iron Bird Cafe . Venue management will go over its plans and answer questions from the community.

Is it just me, or does all this all sound a little too similar to the controversy that surrounded the Neighborhood Thrift mural?

UPDATE: Ranee Johnson, co-owner of Wildrose Chapel & Funeral Home, located diagonal from Fulton 55, is one of its opposers. She says the club will bring too many people and cars to a neighborhood that cannot accommodate them.

Chief among her concerns were parking, safety, the club being open until 2 a.m. and alcohol being served. She cited Salvation Army and Evangel Home as other nearby business that share the same concerns.

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It’s that time of the year again — here’s the ‘Best of Fresno’ list

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No shocker here: I don’t love Fresno Magazine’s annual “Best of Fresno” list. But each year I look forward to its publication, for the ensuing debate, if nothing else.

I will say, and this might seem totally biased once you read further, that the winners this year seem a little bit better. Just itsy-bitsy. Most of it is still pretty useless stuff that’s primarily meant to sell “thank you” ads.

The entire list is below, but I have a few thoughts first:

THE BEEHIVE WINS: Here is a shocker: We won in two reader-voted categories — best blog and best local website. On one hand, I’m thankful that people voted for us. On the other hand, I’m not going to act like this is anything more than what it is — a bunch of our fans voted for us in a rather meaningless online contest. So thank you to those people. And thanks to Fresno Mag, for not disqualifying us because we’re mean to you. In fact, should The Beehive ever start its own awards, we’ll definitely consider you guys for best glossy health-related ads.

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You helped Fresno Urban Sound Experience, now here’s your bounty, Pt. 3

Finally, I’m finishing up my reward program for Fresno Urban Sound Experience donors. I’ve been lagging, sorry. With the festival being tomorrow and all — I kinda had to reward these final folks for helping Kickstart the festival.

VIDEOS
For people who donated $20+ — which many did, as you can see here and here.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

When you’re not stalking Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown during their Fresno visit

1. GET A TASTE OF ELY GUERRA
I’m super intrigued by Saturday’s performance by Ely Guerra at Audie’s Olympic. Guerra is a Mexican singer/songwriter whose music has enough appeal to crossover to the indie rock kids that Love the Captive usually brings out to its shows. Guerra’s a star, no doubt (check out this recent NY Daily News profile) but I have to wonder if Fresno’s gonna show up for this one. Hope so.

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The Beehive Asks: What’s your take on parking and downtown dining?

With the upcoming Fulton Corridor meetings in mind, I caught up with some changes to the downtown restaurant scene.

If you plan to bring up restaurants at the meetings, check out the whole story. You’ll read about

Our friends at Fresno Famous picked up on the recurring parking theme and responded with this post: Downtown + parking = come on, seriously?

Yes. Seriously. Every time I’ve reported on downtown restaurants, the parking issue comes up.

For example, lack of parking bedeviled the old Cheker’s Melting Pot on the Tuolumne side of the Warnors Theatre. Former owner Ken Patterson told The Bee in 2007 that customers “drive by and if they can’t find [street] parking, they will drive by a second time. But that’s it.”

Another of Cheker’s owners, Raffy Chekerdemian, remembers those parking issues today. “As much as people wanted to support and be loyal,” he says, “I can understand why people wouldn’t want to go through the hassle and get some lunch.”

“I personally liked the whole downtown experience,” Chekerdemian adds. “If I were at Kern and N streets, where people can actually walk, I think I would still be downtown.”

It’s telling that Civic Center Square comes up repeatedly in my conversations. Instead of just more parking lots, it seems we need better integration of offices, retail and parking in an attractive outdoor setting. Civic Center Square supplies all of this, giving restaurants two streams of customers:

  • those who are close enough to walk to a restaurant, grab lunch and get back to the office in 30 minutes
  • those who can drive and park in, say, the lot behind the Galleria.

What do you think? Do you want more parking throughout downtown? More campuses like Civic Center Square? Or something else?

Sounds of the City: Style Like Revelators

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Young rock/blues band Style Like Revelators just had its big CD release a couple weeks back for “Changing Bones.” And if you haven’t checked them out, the boys are offering up a free download for Beehivers. This one is called “A Little Soul of My Own,” and it’s a guitar-fueled romp that fans of The White Stripes and The Black Keys may like.

If you’re diggin’ Style Like Revelators, go see ‘em tonight at Audie’s Olympic (flier below), playing with Smoke and Feathers and Lance Canales & The Flood. Also, they’re playing at Iron Bird Cafe for ArtHop next Thursday.

DOWNLOAD: Style Like Revelators – “A Little Soul of My Own”

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Donald’s weekend picks

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1. CHECK OUT CHRISTIAN VARGAS’ WORK AT IRON BIRD CAFE

A strong component of Vargas’ work at the Iron Bird is a series of moody, musing family portraits layered with memory and meaning. He doesn’t just paint people — one of the most striking pieces is a big, munching ox with a target painted on its side. It’s as if the hazy, layered technique momentarily slips the viewer into some weird, deeper level of bovine consciousness.

Another strength of the show is the way curator Steve Ruppel uses the sleek Iron Bird space to showcase the art. While Vargas’ portraits tend to be dark — the artist has said that he’s been “pushing the boundaries of how dark I can get the backgrounds without using any actual black” — many of his mixed-media objects feature bright, cheery hues. Of particular interest: the artist’s use of found objects, such as the vividly colored citrus harvesting field bags used by farmworkers, which sets up an interesting contrast with the more somber portraits.

The show continues through Aug. 26.

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