Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

New Tower District restaurant/bar

photo(69)Do you remember Cafe Rousseau in the Tower District that closed? It became the short-lived Bistro 566. Now it’s something new, this time with the family behind several DiCicco’s restaurants running the show. Frankie’s 568 opened quietly last Saturday. The Italian restaurant is a way of honoring Frank Vitucci — the father to Joanna Vitucci Lopez who runs three DiCicco’s restaurants and husband to Linda. Frank died in 2012. You can read more about him and the restaurant’s back story here.

Frankie’s 568′s menu is different than DiCicco’s, and includes pasta, steak, chicken Parmigiana and a few pizzas. There’s a “Frankie’s Special” on the menu: A petite filet Mignon, tender lamb ribs and an Italian sausage link. There’s also an appetizer dish Frank loved: Fresh ricotta served on toasted bread. Also, Rousseau’s wallpaper has come down and a mural of a scene in Italy went up.

The attached bar is now a separate business. Owner Pete Mejia ran both restaurant and bar under Bistro 566 and will continue to run the bar, which is now Bourbon & Taps. He also owns Tower Sports Club. The business will soon offer 40 bourbons — everything from Maker’s Mark to small-batch bourbons. By next week the place will have 19 craft beers on tap, including six or seven Tioga-Sequoia beers.

Where to eat out on Easter Sunday

Food Deadline Maple HamEaster is Sunday and if you just said “eek!” I’m here to help. Several restaurants are open serving special meals on Easter and others are selling take-home meals. Here’s what you need to know.

The Elbow Room is doing an Easter brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. I’m told Chef Roy Harland has “gone all out” and is serving a huge buffet, including eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelets, prime rib, ham, oysters on the half shell, salmon, turkey pot pies, salads and pastries. Adults cost $25.99. Kids 10 and under cost $14.99.

The regular dinner menu is offered from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations aren’t required for either, but are a good idea. Call (559) 227-1234.

Campagnia is having its jazz buffet brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Reservations required. Call (559) 433-3300. For $23.99 adults get brunch and a glass of Champagne (bottomless mimosas are available for an extra fee). Kids 12 and under cost $12.99 and 4 and under are free. The menu includes all kinds of brunch goodness: ham, bacon, poached salmon, crab salad, pasta, French toast, pastries, garlic mashed potatoes and lots of dessert.

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New restaurant coming to North India space

image(1)After closing last summer, the former North India Bar & Grill building will soon be home to a new restaurant. A chef and restauranteur from the Bay Area bought the building and will open the Elephant Lounge in the space, likely in early June.

Ranjit Dosanjh says he knows the previous owner of the restaurant was a Bay Area restauranteur who couldn’t make a restaurant work there, but says his will be a different concept. Elephant Lounge will serve modern, Indian fusion food with French and Thai influences — but also American and Italian food. They’ll be meat and vegetable dishes with a basil cream sauce, for example, but also steak and pasta. He says he often hears of families where the wife loves Indian food, but the husband and the kids not so much, so he wanted a menu that would appeal to the entire family.

“There are very faithful fans of North India and I can promise them that they’ll be pleased with my food,” he says.

Tired of running four businesses in the East Bay (restaurants Xenia Bistro, India 4 U, Rising Loafer and Spice Global Catering) he is moving to Fresno, where his daughter attends Fresno State. (He’ll still own the other restaurants, but someone else is taking over the day-to-day management.)

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Burgers and personality served up at Caruthers’ Brown Bag Burger Bar


Hiding behind the window is the most charming order-taker ever, Maria (pronounced Ma-RI-ah).

This new burger joint is a little far afield — it’s in Caruthers — but it’s got some Fresno back story. The Brown Bag Burger Bar is the latest project by the people behind The Painted Table, the busy catering company that operates out of the former Daily Planet next to Tower Theatre. The burger bar is a little, low-key place with a bar to sit at that opens up to the outdoors.

You can read all about the colorful characters — charmer Maria and Caruthers native Rod Hansen – in today’s column, but let’s focus on the food here. The restaurants serves all kinds of burgers wrapped in brown paper with inventive names and toppings.

– The Roy Rogers burger has onion rings on it, with a “coka cola” barcecue sauce (yes, it has Coke in it).

– The Frito Yacht is like a Frito boat, but with salad and chili atop the Fritos.

– Milkshakes are popular here, including the “Rod special,” which has real chocolate, banana and peanut butter in it.

The restaurant sells sandwiches and hot dogs too. Burgers can be made with gluten-free buns or vegetarian patties. They get pretty busy on weekdays, so you may want to call in your order ahead of time. It’s open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Where to get “Wicked” eats

FresnoOpera_Wicked-306x250The Broadway show “Wicked” is returning to the Saroyan Theatre starting Wednesday. It’s bound to attract lots of people who will be looking for places to eat beforehand. This week’s Eating Out column is about where people can eat dinner downtown before the show. You can read the full column here, but I thought I’d highlight a few restaurants that are doing something special for “Wicked”. Neither the column nor this blog is meant to be a comprehensive list, so if there’s someplace you like to eat downtown that isn’t on here, be sure to tell us in the comments.

  • Sumtin’ Ta Eat. The owner of this “home cookin’” restaurant on Kern Street is getting her good witch on with a $9 meal special. But you need to call ahead of time and use the word “wicked” while making your reservation. It won’t work if you say it when you walk in the door. Call (559) 572-2328.
  • The newly reborn The Downtown Club will open for dinner during the run of the show. It’s usually just open for lunch and special events. To make sure you get to the show on time, the restaurant will have a buffet for $19.95.
  • Umi Sushi is serving up a “Wicked roll” — as in sushi. The roll’s contents are a surprise (though that may be just because they haven’t figured out what they want to put in it yet). Umi is the new place at 2321 Kern Street across from the Fresno Convention Center.
  • Joe’s Steakhouse is expanding its regular hours to be open for lunch during the run of the show. Reservations aren’t necessary, but they’ll take them.

What’s coming? New places to eat and drink

richiesThere’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.

Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen. A few folks have seen this one on Facebook and said “what?!” This business with the tongue-in-cheek name is a craft beer bar in the work. “No bodies, no pastrami, just beer,” says Ephirman Bosse, who is behind the project. He used to own Fresno Brewing Company and is the bartender at Gazebo Gardens food truck nights.

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.

Get your gumbo on this Saturday

gumboMardi Gras is coming and that means it’s time for gumbo. The 7th annual Gumbo Throwdown is from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Vineyard Farmers Market at Blackstone and Shaw avenues. For $10, you get to try gumbo from five local restaurants and vote on which one you think is the best. There’s some pretty talented chefs on the list this year. Check it out:

Leftover gumbo will be sold for $5 a bowl after voting is finished at around 11:30 a.m. More information here.

New place to eat downtown: Holiday Inn’s Zest

JuJu and Zest 041Zest California Grill & Bar has opened inside the downtown Holiday Inn on Van Ness Avenue. This restaurant that has been serving breakfast and dinner for a while, but a new management company is shaking things up by opening for lunch with the new look and name.

Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of dark brown blinds from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Now, it’s a bright, airy space painted in shades of lime and lemon that’s leading some passers-by to say “hey, I didn’t even know this was here.” Zest’s main entrance faces that stretch of walking mall between Fulton Mall and Courthouse Park. You can get there from the hotel itself and its garage too (and they validate parking if you park in the Holiday Inn garage). Also eye-catching is the chalk art on the walls and a pillars local tattoo artist Danny Duran.

The food is “fresh California cuisine.” That means lots of wraps, sandwiches, salads and three soups that change daily. Many of the dishes are on the lighter side — so the fettuccine alfredo won’t be the heavy dish you’re used to, says chef Bryan Fetzer — but you’ll also find a 14-ounce rib-eye and burgers on the menu. The restaurant also has vegetarian and gluten-free options, including eggplant Parmesan and a black bean and corn quesadilla.

The restaurant is open now and will celebrate its grand opening Feb. 4.

New place to eat: House of JuJu in Clovis

JuJu and Zest 018Here’s something a little different for Clovis. The House of JuJu opened during the first week of December in Old Town, in the space formerly occupied by Salsa’s and California Hot Dogs at 453 Pollasky (in the Dewitt building with the breezeway). It’s a gourmet burger place that also sells hearty salads and wraps, along with local wine and beer. You’ll find burgers on the menu such as the “JuJu bleu” served with crispy bacon, caramelized onions and blue cheese. Or the “Dragon Lady” with teriyaki slaw, pickled onions and spicy garlic aioli.

The restaurant has an emphasis healthy eating, in part because co-owner Scott Glenn lost 120 pounds on a low-carb diet. That’s why you’ll find a “burger in a bowl” option, along with a lean bison burger and Mary’s all-natural chicken. There’s also no fryer. They serve fingerling potatoes instead of fries and their coleslaw is made with teriyaki sauce, not mayonnaise.

JuJu, by the way, is a nickname for co-owner Julie Glenn. It’s what her grandkids call her and as you can imagine, the restaurant is having all kinds of fun with the “good vibe” definition of the word. You can also find Clovis-based W Brewing’s 559 beers on tap at the restaurant. The family that owns House of JuJu is the same family that owns On The Edge coffee shop. You’ll see daughter Jaynae working at both places. My column Wednesday focuses on the Glenn family, who has a long history of running businesses in Clovis.

What should replace the World Sports Cafe?

WORLD SPORTS CAFEYesterday’s shocker that World Sports Cafe has closed is still sinking in. The River Park bar and restaurant’s lease was up and owner and former San Francisco 49er Tim McDonald closed the business to focus on his new job as defensive backs coach with the New York Jets, his colleague said. The closure opens up a prime piece of Fresno real estate for something new.

As we learned with the survey River Park did for the Borders space — which clothing retailer H&M will take over — public input really does play a role in who gets that space. So, what would you like to see in the World Sports Cafe space? I’m sure we’ll get plenty of chains as answers, but don’t forget local businesses. Any you think could flourish there?

Umi Sushi restaurant opens downtown

Umi 024Kern Street has a new sushi restaurant, Umi Sushi. After its predecessor, Sushi Hana, shut down its spot across from the Fresno Convention Center several months ago, some sushi fans were quite bummed. But Umi has taken over that same spot and opened last week. The restaurant is a full-service sushi bar. One highlight, according to the owners: the “soft shell crab wonder,” with deep-fried crab, spicy tuna and cucumber. After learning that the Chinese chicken salad at Sushi Hana used to sell out, they made sure to put it on their menu. There’s also bento boxes, salads, soups and vegetarian rolls.

And you may recognize the sushi chefs behind the counter. Ketut Sutama and Wan Takian have worked together at Sushi Day and then Roll One for Mi. Co-owner Tracy Wayte (who is also Ketut’s wife) playfully calls them the “Odd Couple.” (Ketut’s cousin married a cousin of Wan’s, so technically, they’re family.) And don’t be surprised if they fix up something new based on what regular customers like. “They like to play with food,” Tracy says. “Sushi is art.”

The owners hope to have their beer and wine license soon. The restaurant is open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturdays during special downtown events and performances.

Changes at Pinot Wine Bar: Lunch, beer, more

pinotChanges 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.

El Cochinito Contento to reopen soon

Chris Meat Market, El Cochinito, Buffalo Ranch 017Update: It’s taking El Cochinito Contento  longer than expected to get everything done. The restaurant announced on its Facebook page today that it will open the day after Christmas.

Fans of El Cochinito Contento — the Mexican restaurant at 88 E. Olive Ave. on the edge of the Tower District — are getting antsy about when the restaurant will reopen. But sit tight. It will be soon.

The restaurant is known for its good food and walls plastered with mariachi and beer posters. But it has been closed since early November when a car crashed into the corner of the restaurant. The official target reopening date is Dec. 19. But work is going faster than expected, so it may open earlier, says Vanessa Ortega, daughter of the owners.

The car apparently missed the turn. That tarp is covering up the damage. The car crashed through the patio fence — just moments after customers got up to pay and leave — and went into part of the kitchen during the dinner rush. You can imagine the mess a car hitting the sinks and the prep tables would make. It also caused a fire extinguisher to go off.

“It went all over the place,” Vanessa says of the extinguisher fluid. “It was everywhere. There was grease everywhere.” And in the middle of it all were a handful of shocked — but unharmed — kitchen workers stopped dead in their tracks staring at a car in their kitchen.

That said, the repairs are underway and I’ll keep you posted on when the restaurant reopens. El Cochinito Contento — Spanish for The Happy Pig (Piglet? Piggy? Help me out here Spanish speakers) — will have a grand opening celebration when it reopens and meal specials during the first week. For those you who speak Spanish, here’s an entertaining little video the owner posted on the Facebook page.

Westwoods BBQ open in north Fresno

Westwoods, Borders 041Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co. is open, the newest big restaurant to catch Fresno’s attention. The restaurant took over the former Claim Jumper space at Blackstone and Nees avenues. Despite opening just last week, this one was packed last weekend.

The restaurant is a modern twist on barbecue. The meat isn’t drenched in sauce and there’s salads on the menu (check out the food pics on the Facebook page). So far, the burnt ends brisket, which spends 12 hours in the smoker, is a popular seller, along with the fried chicken and tri-tip. The Westwoods pastry chef tried 200 recipes before perfecting her cornbread. The owner and his chefs came up with the menu after a three-week cross country trip trying every barbecue restaurant they could find.

The owner is top Fresno restauranteur Dave Fansler. He’s the guy who created Tahoe Joe’s, Pismo’s Coastal Grill and Yosemite Ranch restaurants. He’s poured millions into revamping the Westwoods space so that it looks nothing like Claim Jumper — as in, knock-down-walls, tear-out-a-fireplace and relocate-the-bar kind of renovations. The restaurant is an homage to Fresno County and its farmers, so you’ll find plenty of ag-inspired details. The windmill out front was rescued from a Sanger property and the wood ceiling made from old barn wood, for example. You can see more details in this video.

The restaurant is half quick service – where you order at a counter and are handed a pager – and half full service, where a waiter or waitress takes care of you. One interesting tidbit: That pager never buzzes or lights up. It connects to a magnet in the table and uses technology that allows the server to know exactly where your food needs to go so you don’t have to get up.

Thanksgiving: Where to eat when you don’t want to cook


Photo: Fresno Bee photographer John Walker

If the thought of cooking fills you with dread — or you just don’t want to do all those dishes — local businesses have plenty of options for you. Many grocery stores and restaurants are selling premade Thanksgiving meals that you reheat at home. Read more about that here. Many local restaurants are open on Thanksgiving Day too. This is a popular day, so if you plan on going, you must have a reservation.

The Manhattan Steakhouse & Bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They’ll be serving turkey, of course, but if you’re not a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving main dish, you can pick from filet Mignon, pistachio-crusted halibut, tender rosemary lamb rib-eye, grilled swordfish and prime rib. Prices range from $29 to $39, depending upon the dish. Each meal comes with Thanksgiving favorites, such as candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dressing and green beans. You can see the whole menu here.

Plenty of other restaurants are open Thursday too, including the School House Restaurant & Tavern, the Elbow Room, Erna’s Elderberry House, several restaurants in and near Yosemite Nation Park, Mimi’s Cafe and Marie Callender’s. You can read about what they’re doing here.

The Downtown Club is back

photo(56)The Downtown Club is reopen and you don’t need a membership to eat there now.

After closing in February due to falling membership and growing debt, new owners have reopened the Downtown Club restaurant at 2120 Kern St. It’s open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

Much of the restaurant looks exactly the same. It’s still got the bright and airy feel, and a quiet atmosphere perfect for talking business. The new owners have kept some of the old menu items, including the steak salad and the club sandwich. Some of the staff have been rehired too, including a chef of 35 years, and Karl, the smiling doorman and valet (whose shoe shine business has moved to the Patterson building on the mall, by the way).

What’s different? The prices have been lowered so most are between $11 and $14. And they’ve added some new dishes to the menu, including a popular grilled chicken fatoush salad, a salmon BLT and a Mediterranean veggie plate. The menu will continue to evolve. The bar isn’t open yet, but will be as soon as the business gets its liquor license.

This time around, it’s not a board of directors, but a group of investors running the show. Nick Farid — who will probably come by your table to chat if you eat there — is one of several partners who bought the building and the business. They also bought a struggling business in Selma and turned it into what is now Famous Shish Kebab. They bought a closed restaurant in Fowler and opened Kebab City there.

There’s another new business going in next door. Remember Mabel’s Kitchen? Her old location closed, but she’s gearing up to serve breakfast and lunch in the former Kern Street Coffee space. I’ll keep you updated on that one as she gets closer to opening.

Where’s your favorite breakfast spot?

Train depot, crosses, Waffle shop 050Since tomorrow is Saturday — which is way too often known as sleep-in-and-be-so-lazy-that-you-go-out-to-breakfast day in our house — let’s talk about breakfast. Where is your favorite spot to get breakfast? And what do you get when you go there? Tell me in the comments.

I’ve got breakfast on the brain because Fresno has two new breakfast places that I’m writing about in next week’s column. You’ll see more in Wednesday’s paper, but here’s a quick rundown.

Lots of people were devastated when the Train Depot restaurant burned down to a pile of rubble in April, but the popular breakfast and lunch spot reopened earlier this week. Now the restaurant is at 3045 E Ashlan Ave. near First Street (a few doors down from the yummy Alla’s Armenian). The owner has brought back the train-inspired decor, compTrain depot, crosses, Waffle shop 083lete with a toy train chugging around the top of the room past paintings of  Fresno. They’ve recreated the ticket booth too. It’s open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. More details on the restaurant’s Facebook page here.

Remember where the Batter Up Pancakes used to be on Figarden Drive? A new breakfast place has opened in the same spot (if you remember, that location closed, but Batter Up’s Cedar and Nees location is doing swimmingly, I hear). The Waffle Shop at 4025 W Figarden Dr. is owned by the same guy who owns the Waffle Shop on Blackstone Avenue near Gettysburg. It’s one of the 13 owned by the Sacramento owner.

As you can guess, it specializes in waffles: classic waffles, strawberry almond waffles, bacon waffles with bacon inside and on top, even gourmet waffles with strawberries and vanilla ice cream. There’s other breakfast and lunch dishes, including sandwiches, burgers and chicken-fried steak. It’s open 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

So where will you be eating breakfast this weekend?

Eight new restaurants opening


Dinner is served at the new Capo’s by Giuseppe Gallo’s. Photo by Bee photographer Eric Paul Zamora.

If you like trying out new restaurants, you’re in luck. Eight restaurants in the Fresno area are in the process of opening, many of them with big names behind them. Some have opened. Some are coming soon. You can read more about the perfect storm of events that has them all opening now in today’s front page story. But, if you just want to eat good food, here’s a run down of who’s opening.

Westwoods BBQ and Spice Co., 8042 N. Blackstone Ave.: The founder of Tahoe Joe’s, Pismo’s and Yosemite Ranch is overhauling the former Claim Jumper space in River Park. The menu will be a modern take on traditional barbecue, including dishes inspired by other parts of the country and world, as well as feature some lighter options. Half the restaurant will be quick service with customers ordering at a counter; half will be full service.

Look for a giant retro sign facing Highway 41 that reads “BBQ” with an arrow. “You will forget that Claim Jumper was even there,” restaurateur Dave Fansler says.

Tentatively opening before the holidays.

Downtown Club, 2120 Kern St.: The decades-old hot spot for the city’s movers and shakers closed in February, but restaurateur Nick Farid plans to reopen it. Farid also runs Famous Shish Kebab in Selma. The new restaurant will open Oct. 1.

He plans to rehire the cooks and create a budget-friendly menu with a mix of American, Mediterranean, Italian and Asian food. He will change the menu every three months.

Shenanigans, 6650 N. Cedar Ave.: This restaurant and bar will open in the former Fibber McGee’s spot near Herndon Avenue. Chef Paul Palomino, former owner of Palomino’s in the Tower District, is developing the menu for the lunch and dinner spot. One of Shenanigans owners is the owner of The Office 1560.

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High Sierra Grill House is open

High Sierra Grill 025Remember the big empty space at Bullard and West avenues where Bentley’s Steaks Seafood and Ribs used to be? It’s not empty anymore. The High Sierra Grill House opened last week serving hamburgers, sandwiches, tri-tip and salads.

The restaurant is owned by the same people who own the four busy Yosemite Falls Cafe locations in Fresno and Clovis. They saw the space up for rent on the prominent corner and jumped at it, saying the area needs an affordable option.

High Sierra Grill has some some similarities to Yosemite Falls, namely the Sierra-inspired decor (though High Sierra is a bit more classy. There’s no silly stuffed bear animals here). But the menu is much smaller. And dining here is different. The restaurant offers quick service — where you order at a counter and they call out your number when the meal is ready — and sit-down dining for people who’d rather deal with a waiter or waitress. The quick service is popular for workday lunches, and modeled after the Dog House Grill. Below the jump you can see a video of Manny Perales, one of the owners, explaining the two dining options.

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Samba is back

Samba, Oahu, Hermosa 021Remember Samba — the Brazilian restaurant in northwest Fresno that closed a while back? It has reopened with a twist in Fig Garden Village. It’s now Samba Global Cuisine and serves Brazilian food, Indian, Mediterranean, pizza and burgers.

The restaurant took over the old Belana space near Wayside Noodles. It opened quietly last month and chef Goldie Bedi is the new owner.

It’s got quite the multicultural menu. You can still get the leisurely rodizio dinner, where waiters bring skewers of meat to cut at your table for $34. But there’s also the rice dish biryani, filet Mignon, a Portuguese pizza, and a picanha burger. The picanha burger is the same Brazilian steak served in the rodizio dinner, but turned into a burger and topped with mozzarella cheese, grilled mushrooms and bell pepper. There’s a lunch buffet too.

And it’s worth checking out the restaurant just for the decor. A cloudy blue sky has been painted on the ceiling. Colored lights behind the full bar gradually change from fuchsia to green throughout the night. And if you celebrate a birthday here they not only sing for you, they bring out a virtual percussion section with drums and a tambourines. Keep reading to see some pics and the menu (click to enlarge).

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BevMo! and Chick-fil-A coming to Clovis

bevmo2Get your drink on, Clovis. BevMo! is coming. The big seller of beer, wine, spirits and everything else you need to have a party is coming to the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center at Herndon and Clovis avenues, confirms Clovis Council Member Nathan Magsig.

And Chick-fil-A is coming to the same corner too, so you can get some chicken to go with your beer.

Both places are several months away from opening. BevMo! will open somewhere between Petco and Walmart (it’s not clear yet if that building under construction right now will house BevMo! or if it will go in a future building). Chick-fil-A will be built closer to Herndon Ave., between McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. Construction hasn’t started yet on that (that’s the Denny’s that’s being built right now).

The BevMo! is kinda a big deal because until now it just had the one store in Fresno on North Blackstone. A lot of these big retailers like to plunk down one store in Fresno, say they’ve got the Fresno/Clovis market covered and if you think it’s too far to drive from Clovis, well, too bad, so sad. Apparently BevMo! wants your business, Clovis.

In addition to what’s already there, the center will also be getting a kebob restaurant, a Korean barbecue restaurant called Shila, Sally Beauty Supply, Pacific Dental, a nail salon, Wingstop, Kay Jewelers, Yum Yum Yogurt, Jamba Juice, Kirkland’s and a Kay Jewelers.

Restaurant and bar news: Who’s coming, who’s going

caposSome big changes are happening in the restaurant and bar world, so I figured it was time for an update of who’s coming and who’s going (or already gone, as the case may be).

Coming: Capo’s by Giuseppe Gallo’s will open at the former The Venue and Twist space at the Park Place shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues. This is the same Giuseppe Gallo’s Italian restaurant over at Willow and Nees in Clovis. That restaurant is busting at the seams and since it can’t expand where it is, the owners decided to add a second location in northwest Fresno. Capo’s is scheduled to open during the last week of August.

Gone (for now): Fresno Brewing Company closed last week. The coffee and craft beer hangout on the Fulton Mall attracted cyclists, downtown cheerleaders and generally hip people. The owner closed it for “personal reasons,” but a city official wants to reopen it soon serving meals. Read more about that here.

Coming: High Sierra Grill is taking over the space that Bentley’s left empty at Bullard and West avenues in the Pavilion West shopping center. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own the Yosemite Falls Cafe restaurants. The limited menu will serve tri-tip, sandwiches, burgers and salads. Half the restaurant is walk-up-and-order-and-wait-for-a-cashier-to-call-out-your-number quick service. The other half is sit down and be waited on. It’s scheduled to open Aug. 26.

As usual, I’ll keep you updated as the restaurants get closer to opening. You can find lots more local restaurant info in my weekly columns here.

Triangle Drive In plans second Fresno location

Triangle, Urban thrift, Sumtin ta eat 006The Triangle Drive In will open its second Fresno location, this one at the former Foster’s Freeze at Barstow Avenue and First Street.

If you’re not in the know, the Triangle Drive In is the 50-year-old burger stand on Belmont, just west of Roeding Park. You can still get a jumbo burger there for $3.55. (And there’s another location in Ivanhoe, too.) The restaurant has a following, with its loyal fans in other parts of the city making the trek to the restaurant about once a month, says manager and owner Zahi Saleh. They’ve been bugging him to open another location closer to them, he says.

The new location at 753 E. Barstow Ave. (which was most recently a Paisanos Pasta and is in the same center near Hoover High that Porky’s used to be in) won’t be up and running for at least another month. One interesting tidbit: It’s not on a triangle-shaped piece of property. The other two are, hence the name, which not everybody notices, Zahi says.

The new restaurant will be called Triangle Burger, has a drive-thru and will have the same retro feel as the original.

Downtown restaurant Sumtin’ Ta Eat offers a little bit of everything

Triangle, Urban thrift, Sumtin ta eat 060Sumtin’ Ta Eat is at its most basic a restaurant, but the new business has so many other labels you could slap on it: Christian lounge, dessert bar, internet cafe, comedy club, a place you can rent for meetings or special events of up to 300 people, a place to have your book club or Bible study or play or live musical performance, and, on Sundays, a place for Christian poetry readings, gospel karaoke and praise dancers worshiping the Lord. Whew!

The business has taken over the spot at 2039 Kern St. at Van Ness that has been home to Karma Ultra Lounge and Fagan’s Irish Pub (and quite a few others things in recent years).

The menu includes fried chicken, pork chops, fried fish and sides such as yams, black-eyed peas and — during its grand opening Wednesday — some darn tasty green beans I got to sample. The menu changes daily and though pigs feet may occasionally appear on the menu, it’s not always soul food, says owner Stephanie Mitchell. She recommends customers keep tabs on the Facebook page to see what’s featured that day. There’s a $7 lunch box special Monday through Thursday.

One unusual tidbit: She got the city to remove some of the parking meters in front of the restaurant. Customers can call in an order, drive up to the white zone in front 15 minutes later and an employee will bring the food out. The customer pays in cash or with plastic using a little attachment to a phone.

And if you’re not Christian, don’t worry, Mitchell says. They play gospel music, but “we don’t just come up and say ‘Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!’” she says.

Elbow Room getting a remodel

Piazza del Pane and Elbow Room 029The 58-year-old Elbow Room may look a little different next time you visit. It’s getting a face lift.

The restaurant is midway through its remodel and will not close for renovations. Instead, workers are rebuilding the bar and redoing the walls at night after the restaurant closes. It will all be done by early August.

One of the biggest changes? They added windows on the east wall. Yes, the dim, retro steak house-style restaurant is letting some light in. But, it’s not that much light. Elbow Room still has that dark, comforting feel owner Mike Shirinian is going for. He spent two years researching the look he wanted, one that appeals to both the hip 50 and 60-something regulars (60 is the new 50, Shirinian says) and 20-somethings who like the retro look.

You’ll soon see mahogany trim and a mahogany bar, a stainless steel wall near the pass-through window with a diamond pattern, and new booths, bar stools and carpet. (Some customers got to sign their names and leave messages on walls before they’re covered up with wainscoting or other material.) The Elbow Room’s trademark cat leaning on a martini glass will make an appearance in neon on the patio.

Some trivia for us youngsters: Even though the business is 58 years old, it hasn’t been in its current location all that time. It started on Palm, near McKinley in what Shirinian says is now a day care. It later moved to where the Lime Light is now and moved to its current spot in 1997.