Chef Zong Yi Liu and Jennifer Pan, one of the new investors in the business.
Fans of the popular Hunan Chinese Restaurant have been dying to know when the original location at Cedar and Herndon will reopen and now we have an answer: Saturday.
The restaurant has been closed for five months while new investors pumped fresh life into the place. (Hunan 2 at Herndon and Clovis has remained open.) A wall was knocked down in the dining room to expand it and the interior has been completely redone. The kitchen was also expanded and now has all new equipment, making Chef Zong Yi Liu very happy. The changes have allowed him to add new dishes and there’s now 168 entrees and appetizers to choose from. (Don’t worry, the popular butter cream prawns is still on the menu, but now there’s golden sand prawns, a saltier, less sweet version of the dish.)
Hunan also has an unusual new sister business, a furniture and art store. Heaven & Earth opens Saturday too, two doors down from the restaurant. It’s the first store in the U.S. run by the interior design and construction firm that owns it in Taiwan. It’s part store and part museum, with one-of-kind pieces such as the nearly 900-year-old stone goat selling for $95,000. There’s so many historical artifacts in the store that Hunan diners are encouraged to browse the store like museum before or after eating.
Downtown Fresno now has a froyo place. Yogurt Etc. opened Thursday on Kern Street downtown near Starbucks.
The business sells all kinds of yogurt (acai berry sorbet and Greek honey yogurt, for example, and the mayor was testing out the southern salted butter pecan yogurt at this morning’s ribbon cutting), including gluten free, sugar free and fat free yogurts. There’s all kinds of toppings too, including some grown on local farms.
The “Etc.” in the name refers to the other breakfast and lunch items on the menu: Five different kinds of hot dogs, and chili (including vegan hot dogs and vegan chili), cereal, bagels, steel-cut oatmeal and egg cups with herbs, spices and toppings such as ham and cheese.
Yogurt Etc. was founded by 2007 Bullard High grad David Goldberg and Hector Parra. The business is at 2311 Kern Street in the former Robeks space. Yogurt Etc. will be open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and closed on Sundays unless there is an event happening at the Fresno Convention Center across the street.
Customers wait in line for corn outside of the Fresno State farm store on Saturday, May 25, 2013.
As many of you know from past posts, I enjoy cycling around Fresno. The view from the bike gives me a new perspective on our cities, and it keeps me in shape. Sometimes I ride the Clovis Bike Trails, head to Woodward Park or go out into the country. I try to mix it up. And I’m always looking for somewhere new to ride.
On Saturday, I decided to join the Park to Park ride put on by the Fresno Bike Party and I Bike Fresno folks as part of Bike Month. We rode from Oso de Oro park to Roeding Park. With a few extra miles thrown in to make a loop to my house, the ride was a fun and social, and one that took me through diverse neighborhoods and past a lot of notable food spots, including:
Fresno State farm store: Known for its corn (see that line!), the store features produce grown by ag students, and student-made products like ice cream, sausage and wine. At the new market you can sample wine and grab a scoop.
The little burger joint with the walk-up window on Belmont just west of Highway 99 has all types of regulars who love the place, the manager tells me. And $2.39 for a regular burger? $3.55 for a jumbo burger? Can’t beat that. The collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia adds a nice charm. Most of it is brought in by customers, by the way.
Anyway, I want to know what you like about this place. A restaurant around this long surely has some longtime fans, and I’d love to hear some of your memories from years past. When did you come here and why? Maybe I’ll include them in an upcoming column in the newspaper.
There’s a second Triangle Drive In in Ivanhoe, by the way, and plans are under way to open a third one on the east side of town near Clovis. More on that when it happens.
If you haven’t made a reservation for a Mother’s Day meal, hop to it. Seats are filling fast. There is a ton of restaurants doing something special like a buffet for Mother’s Day. You can read my column about them here. I’ve also pulled out a few examples here for the blog.
If you’ve got a extra healthy mom, Organic Fresno is having a five-course brunch and five-course dinner, both for $20 each. The menu includes a “waffle trio” of lemon-coconut, chocolate-hazelnut and vanilla spice waffles. Main courses for dinner include a veggie terrine, portobello mushroom barbecue, chicken Cacciatore and leg of lamb. You can see the full menu here. For reservations, call (559) 478-0099.
If you want to take mom up to Yosemite for the day, the Ahwahnee Hotel has dropped its Mother’s Day brunch prices this year to make it more accessible. The brunch, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., features a carved prime rib and ham station, seafood, omelets and “petite desserts.” The brunch costs $45 for adults (about $8.50 cheaper than normal), $15 for children 5 to 12, and children 4 and under are free. Call (801) 559-4935 for reservations.
A newly opened hot dog stand in northeast Fresno has an unusual theme: teddy bears.
Brown Bear’s Hotdogs is a little stand opened recently in the former Cali’s Frozen Custard at Herndon Avenue and Fresno Street. It’s just beyond the Chili’s restaurant. Look for giant teddy bear eating a hot dog tacked to the exterior wall (or the bear paw prints leading drivers through the drive thru, or the teddy bear tied to the grill of the owners truck).
The hot dog stand — which has a drive thru and a walk-up window — got its name because the wife behind the business, Jennifer Raya, says her husband reminds her of a bear, hence her nickname for him and the business name. Brown bear’s real name is Benjerman Raya. (Actually, his name is Benny, but as a vertically challenged teen — he’s not anymore for the record — he got tired of being called a kid and changed his name to BenjerMAN.)
But let’s talk about the food. It’s all about the hot dogs here, with chili dogs, pizza dogs, kung pao dogs and more. Some are drenched in creative toppings, like the buffalo dog with deep-fried croutons in a buffalo chicken sauce, celery and ranch dressing. They’re messy, but the Rayas give out forks and are liberal with the napkins.
There’s even a breakfast dog wrapped in eggs, which is why the stand opens at 6:30 a.m. most days. Brown Bear’s uses Nathan’s beef hot dogs, and also serves vegetarian dogs. For $5, diners get the dog, a bag of chips and a can of soda.
If you’ve heard of Brown Bear’s before, it’s because the couple used to run a hot dog trailer of the same name. Working from a restaurant allows much more flexibility in food they can offer.
One of the first things I learned when I moved to Fresno over a decade ago was that this is In-N-Out Burger country. And Hanford is no exception.
In-N-Out fans there recently found out they’re finally going to get one of their beloved restaurants. It’s in the very beginning stages, but sometime months and months from now — if all goes as planned — there should be an In-N-Out on 12th Avenue in front of Walmart.
This is a special victory for fans because they’ve been campaigning to bring In-N-Out here for the last 23 months. Let me give you a sampling of the zeal of their efforts:
A petition drive brought in more than 8,000 signatures, including local soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iran.
In-N-Out fans had their own float in a homecoming parade, a fire truck decorated by people dedicated to bringing the restaurant to Hanford.
Somehow Good Morning America host Josh Elliot and ABC 30 got in on the action, with the host giving on-air shout outs to the effort. You can see him getting the news here.
And I’ll leave you with the entertaining words of one of In-N-Out’s most dedicated Hanford fans, MichaelAnthony LaCrue. This guy is so in love with this restaurant that he’s been calling the company every other week for years, and is even planning to have the red palm trees from the In-N-Out cup tattooed on his wrists.
I think Corporate In-N-Out finally decided the only way they could shut me up was to stick a double double in my mouth. I received a gorgeous In-N-Out snow globe from corporate at Christmas and soon after they sent me the message I have been waiting for ,,,, for oh so long,,,,,, They are coming to Hanford!!!!
Today is National Frozen Yogurt Day. Every day is some sort national food day, but I’m noting this one because you can get free frozen yogurt.
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at the River Park Yogurtland, the froyo is free. You can fill the container as high as you want and get all the toppings you want too, the owner assures me.
The store has recently added Greek frozen yogurt — in a banana raspberry flavor — and now has two dairy-free sorbets — strawberry lemonade and grapefruit guava.
You can get more free food tomorrow too. IHOP restaurants are offering a free short stack of pancakes to each guest from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday. The restaurant is asking that for every free stack, customers make a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network, which supports Children’s Hospital Central California.
The program raised $3 million nationwide last year and IHOP is hoping to raise that amount again this year.
The New York Times had an interesting story this week about Manhattan restaurants getting fed up with the “food porn” trend of people taking photos of their food and posting them on Facebook.
Some restaurants are outright banning picture taking, while others have policies against flash photography. It “disrupts the ambience” and can be a distraction for diners, they say. The story highlights some of the more zealous picture takers:
“There are those who use a flash and annoy everyone around them. There are those who come equipped with gorillapods — those small, flexible tripods to use on their tables.
There are even those who stand on their chairs to shoot their plates from above.
“We get on top of those folks right away or else it’s like a circus,” Mr. Bouley said.”
I don’t think we have any such photo bans at Fresno restaurants (let me know if we do). But what do you think of this trend? Chefs and restaurateurs, feel free to weigh in with your perspective too.
Personally, I’m all for quickly taking a discreet photo — no flash. We have some pretty amazing chefs in this town and I’ve been served some dishes that look like works of art. And those photos work as marketing too. That yummy photo might just be the push customers need to check out someplace new they’ve been considering.
The sign hasn’t changed yet, but The Old Hotel Bistro & Hearts Delight is open
Old Town Clovis folks are getting excited about the new business taking over the former Victoria Rose Restaurant. The historic hotel and tea house is now home to longtime gift shop Hearts Delight and a restaurant featuring downhome cooking.
They’ve moved Hearts Delight into the building. Now customers walk through two rooms of retail — the same purses, jewelry and little ceramic birdies that Hearts Delight has always sold — to get to the dining room in the back.
The new, smaller dining room is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, serving lunchtime comfort food like meat loaf sandwiches and other hofbrau-style sandwiches, black-eyed peas and corn bread. They’ll also host occasional dinners. The first one is Friday night. The coffee bar will remain and the business will continue to host tea, and baby and bridal showers. You can find out more info on its Facebook page.
Aside from the attachment Clovis residents have to the historic building, there’s also a feeling that “if Cora thinks that it will work, then it will work because she really is a good business woman,” said Carole Lester, head of the Business Organization of Old Town.
Lucy’s Lair, the beloved Ethiopian restaurant that used to be waaaay out in northeast Fresno, has reopened closer to civilization. The restaurant opened earlier this month at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue in the same shopping center as Save Mart.
Owner Sossena Mariam said customers kept getting lost in the previous location and even their GPS sometimes couldn’t find Lucy’s, hence the new space.
She hasn’t changed much else. The menu is still mostly the same, though she has added appetizers. Now there’s sambusas, little phyllo dough triangles stuffed with either lean beef or vegan lentils that are cooked with garlic, jalapenos and lots of spices. That’s in addition to the traditional favorites like doro wot — a spicy chicken dish marinated in lemon and sauteed in purified butter — and other eat-with-your-hands entrees still on the menu.
This makes two Ethiopian restaurants for Fresno since Fasika opened.
If my quick visit to Lucy’s Lair was any indication, people love this restaurant. Customers were hugging the owner and vowing to tell all their friends about the new address. And it was jam packed on its opening night. She won’t need to do a whole lot of marketing to get the word out because her customers are taking care of that.
You can see more details on the restaurant’s Facebook page here.
Students can get their burrito fix starting today as the new Chipotle at Cedar and Shaw avenues opens.
The popular restaurant chain is in the same shopping center as Uncle Harry’s and Jamba Juice. It took quite a few months to get this location — the former The Big Swirl and The Big Cheese frozen yogurt and grilled cheese shop — looking like a Chipotle.
Here’s betting the chain with an emphasis sustainably raised food that once had ties with McDonalds does well at that location. Chipotle has a history of succeeding near colleges, with its first one just steps from the University of Denver campus.
“Students are really big Chipotle fans and customers for us,” says spokesman Chris Arnold.
Chipotle is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Yes, we’re halfway into the first month of 2013 — but I realized I forgot to do one of these Beehive Year in Review posts. I swear it’s the last looking-back-at-2012 post I’ll write. If I didn’t do this post, though, how would you know which contests you entered the most and which commenters are still in our “top 10?” See. You’re welcome.
So without further ado — unless you want me to drag this out another 14 days — here are the most read and most commented Beehive posts of 2012, along with our most prolific commenters.
Whether you’re on the list or not, thanks to everyone who participates in the site, either by reading and responding, sharing links with your friends or even grumbling to yourself about what we write. You’re all appreciated.
They all closed for their own reasons, and you can read more about them in this weekend’s story that takes a look at the problem. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re still struggling with the lackluster economy.
It’s that time of year where every journalist compiles a year-in-review post because it’s quick and easy and all their sources are still off enjoying Christmas vacation.
But it’s also an excuse to look back at the restaurant scene in 2012. We gained some great restaurants, and lost some really good ones too. Here’s some highlights of who I’ve written about over the last year, but I’m sure there’s more worth noting. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section.
We said good-bye to:
QN4U in Clovis closed after its spicy owner Brent Walton died of a heart attack. His widow Kim still runs the catering business of the same name, but the world lost a creative character when Brent left us.
Grand Palace Chinese restaurant closed about a year after it opened, much to the dismay of its fans. But fear not, the restaurant is scheduled to reopen in early 2013 at the former Carrows Restaurant at 1484 E. Shaw Ave. It will have a new name: New City Chinese Restaurant.
The Victoria Rose Restaurant in Old Town Clovis closed this month. Owner Nathan Lewis-Copeland tried his best to bring us organic, local fare, along with his espresso bar and tea, but sadly, it just didn’t pan out.
We said hello to:
Dusty Buns Bistro opened its brick-and-mortar location in April at the corner of Weldon and Echo avenues, drawing its food truck fans like flies to local, organic honey.
Boy, the Grand Palace restaurant has some fans. The Chinese restaurant, on Blackstone Avenue just north of Ashlan Avenue, closed in October due to a lease issue with plans to reopen in a new location. Several customers have emailed me to ask where they will be reopening.
Now I have an answer for you: 1484 E. Shaw Ave. in the former Carrows near Millbrook Ave. It will probably open in January.
And it will have a new name: New City Chinese Restaurant. It’s the same food — Mandarin food and dim sum — and the same chef and family behind it.
“Hopefully this is the luckiest name for us,” said Tracy Young, whose family owns the restaurant.
But don’t go there yet. They’ve got a lot of work left to do and they’re doing a lot of it themselves to save money. Tracy, who you’ve seen waiting tables if you’ve been to Grand Palace, was working away in a face mask and gloves Friday.
I’m busy writing my column about which restaurants are open on Christmas Day and the descriptions of food are driving me crazy: Deep-fried cheesecake at Chukchansi’s Noodle Bar, a slow-baked sugar-cured ham at the Mountain Room in Yosemite and dim sum at Imperial Garden.
You can read more about which restaurants are open in this coming Wednesday’s column, but in the meantime, let’s talk about what people eat for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) — whether homemade or from a restaurant.
Do you have a favorite traditional holiday food?
For me, it’s my Aunt Janet’s challah bread. (I’m not sure how that became a family tradition as it’s a bread traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays and we’re not Jewish.) It’s a light, fluffy bread delicious eaten with a meal and is great for leftover ham and turkey sandwiches. (That’s not my bread at right, but a file photo of challah bread by Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss.)
So what about you? Do you have a special dish you make every year or something you go out for every year?
You knew the smackdown was coming. When Guy Fieri — the Food Network personality and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host — got so popular as to host a network TV game show and open a three-level, 500-seat mega restaurant in Times Square, the backlash was inevitable.
Food snobs, of course, have never really taken Guy all too seriously. There’s the frosted hair, the rock ‘n’ roll attitude, his inner “bro” that he liberally lets escape on our TVs and the fact that he’ll put something called Donkey Sauce on a menu.
So when the New York Times’ Pete Wells unleashed a stinging zero-star of review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar under the headline, “As not seen on TV,” he was putting into words that a lot of people had been thinking for a few years now. Since last night, it’s zoomed around the web and was even a chatter item on “Good Morning America” today.
Here are a few choice quotes:
What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?
CartHop, the weekly downtown food truck and music event, is expanding. The north Fresno CartHop debuts today, Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Applebee’s parking lot at Friant Road and Fresno Street. Here’s a map of exactly where they are.
They’ll be there every Tuesday from here on out. The original downtown CartHop on Fulton Mall — Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — continues. It got so many requests for a north Fresno version that its Creative Fresno organizers made it happen.
And if you can’t make it today, the CartHop folks will also be at the Fulton Mall ice rink from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Saturday night through Jan. 13. Here’s a map.
Fresno’s newest food truck, Benaddiction, is rolling. Keep an eye out for the black truck serving breakfast food with a rock n’ roll twist.
It serves breakfast food redesigned to be portable, including the French toast bites that are dipped in pulverized Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal before cooking. Benaddiction’s specialty is the eggs Benedict sandwich, and the truck has several takes on the dish, all with musical names like “The Clapton,” a fried egg, bacon and hollandaise sauce sandwich served on a fresh-made English muffin. See its breakfast menu here and its lunch menu here.
Founder James Caples, a former restaurant manager, and chef Jason Valencia, are behind Benaddiction. You can find out more about the truck at its website here, or its Facebook page here.
Benaddiction is still building its schedule, but keep reading to see its schedule and some photos from the Manchester Center farmers market stop on Fridays.
There’s so many changes in the coffee shop scene in Fresno and Clovis that I was tempted to headline this “As the Coffee Bean Turns.” We’ve got attractive new players in the market, and a surprise kill-off of one longtime coffee shop. Here’s a rundown on the recent coffee shop action.
On The Edge coffee house has opened in the heart of Old Town Clovis on Pollasky Avenue. The little coffee shop has an amazing patio out back with a mural on its huge brick wall. On The Edge is owned by the same family who used to run the New
The patio at On The Edge coffee shop on Pollasky Avenue in Clovis.
Found Gold shop a few doors down. Jaynae Glenn, 19, is the driving force behind the business. She’s also planning her wedding. Her Superwoman cape is invisible.
Another coffee shop, Kuppa Joy Coffee House, is getting ready to open in early November about a block away on Clovis Avenue near 5th Street. Clovis High grad and former Detroit Lions football player Zack Follett is behind this one. I’ll have more details when it’s closer to opening.
Everybody likes free food, right? And cheap food is the next best thing, so I’m sharing some edible deals you can take advantage of in the next few weeks.
Wednesday is free biscuit day at Carl’s Jr. The chain is debuting its scratch-made biscuits, the same ones it has sold for years at its sister company Hardee’s in the midwest and southeast. You can get a free sausage biscuit if you go into the restaurant Wednesday morning.
If you’re brave enough to wear your Halloween costume to Chipotle on Oct. 31, you can get cheap food. As part of its “Boorito” promotion, you can get a $2 burrito from 4 p.m. to close if you’re in costume. The money you do spend goes to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which supports sustainable agriculture and family farming.
And Marie Callender’s whole pie sale continues until the end of the month. The pies cost $7.99, plus the cost of the pie tin.
Update: My colleague Donald Munro points out that kids in costume can get free burgers and fries at Eureka! Burger. Only the first 100 under age 12 get the free food. The restaurant apparently understands that burgers, fries and a whole bunch of candy on the same day might be a bit much, so if you don’t want to eat the meal right then you can get a gift card for a kid’s burger and fries for later.
ORIGINAL POST, 7/26: The local Qdoba locations closed recently, leaving an opportunity for hippie chain Freebirds World Burrito to expand into Fresno. It will take over the Shaw/Marks location in September.
ZOOFARI: Another popular annual event is Chaffee Zoo’s Ice Cream Zoofari. It’s a cool relief considering the expected temperatures. It’s happening Saturday night after the zoo closes and includes all you-can-eat ice cream, sherbet and frozen yogurt. More info here. This one sells out, so hurry if you want tickets.