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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
It’s opening day for the Fresno Grizzlies. If Mother Nature cooperates — it looks like she might — tonight will be a Thirsty Thursday. So bring those dollar bills to the beer line! Oh, and if you’re Facebook friends with the Griz, you can get a special deal on tickets.
“Wicked” is here for Day Two, two performances in fact. Not up to speed on all the Wicked chatter? Just go read all this stuff.
ArtHop means post-ArtHop parties. Tokyo Garden has its customary Rademacher & friends indie rock party, while Fulton 55 jumps into the post-ArtHop pool with a hip-hop night starring Living Legend (and local guy) Aesop.
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.
We’ve secured “Fresno Fave” La Elegante as a taco dealer. It’ll have its taco truck set up outside of Fulton 55 for the first half of the evening. So if you still haven’t tasted this delicious taco spot, here’s your chance. Once Elegante closes up, Dusty Buns Bistro will show up to feed you. So remember to bring cash.
The first 100 people through the door get a free Beehive button from Twee Boutique. We’re talking exclusive, limited-edition stuff here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RELATED:All Things Fresno, the Fresnocentric gift shop next to Warnors Theatre, is having a holiday open house 12-4 p.m. Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.