Remember the Sonic Drive-In on Shaw Avenue in Clovis that’s been surrounded by a chain-link fence and overgrown for the last two years? It’s an eyesore no more. The Sonic near Walmart reopened Tuesday after the owners of 24 other Sonics in the Valley bought it. It took a couple years to reach a deal because the couple likes to own, not lease, the land their restaurants are on. (The restaurant just didn’t work out for the previous owner, not sure what specifically led to its closure.)
New owners Scott A. and Tani McMillan put some work into the place to bring it back up to speed, and added a few extras you won’t find at the other Sonic restaurants. Namely, the menu boards that you pull up to have a video screen that promotes Sonic food and confirms your order.
Sidenote: Sonic is now carrying Slushes with Nerds candy in it. We spent several minutes talking about this bizarre little development and Scott is pretty excited about it.
“It’s awesome,” he says of the Nerds. “They don’t sink to the bottom. They don’t float on the top.”
Anyway, you can expect to see more Sonics in the Fresno/Clovis area in the long-term. The restaurants do very well here, say the owners. Also, Sanger will get a Sonic, possibly by the end of the year. There, the restaurant will take over the former Burger King at Academy Avenue and 9th Street. They’ll experiment with some indoor seating, something Sonic does in the wintery northeast, but might be appropriate for 104-degree days like today.
The owner of North India Bar & Grill in Clovis has sold the building and closed the restaurant. The restaurant on Shaw Avenue closed Monday — the same day the building sold — and workers were hauling tables and kitchen equipment into moving trucks Tuesday.
Owner Surinder Singh said the 5-year-old restaurant struggled to strike the right balance between people who wanted authentic Indian food and people who thought that authentic food was too strong or spicy.
“People are not into Indian overall, generally speaking,” he said of the Fresno/Clovis area, noting that every day customers would come in saying they’d never had Indian food before. He spent advertising dollars on radio ads that tried to educate people about the food.
Singh said he ran an Indian restaurant in San Francisco for 13 years that had lines waiting for him to open every day before he sold it and opened the restaurant here.
“Here, it’s different,” he says. “It’s more of a chain market than a mom and pop market.”
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’ll keep you updated on opening date.