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New Fresno Ross opens July 19

Ross Dress for Less will open a new store at the Marketplace at El Paseo, 6509 N. Riverside Drive in northwest Fresno July 19. It will also open two other Northern California on that date, bringing the total to 264 stores in its largest state. The two other stores are in Sacramento and Placerville.

The new openings are part of the retailer’s 2014 expansion program, totaling approximately 75 new locations during the year. Together, Ross Dress for Less and dd’s Discounts (run by Ross) currently operate more than 1,300 off-price apparel and home fashion stores in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.

Ross Stores, Inc. is an S&P 500, Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 (ROST) company headquartered in Dublin, California, with fiscal 2013 revenues of $10.2 billion.

Hobby Lobby, movie theater coming to Marketplace at El Paseo

A second Fresno Hobby Lobby and another Regal Cinema are part of phase-two plans for the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center near Herndon Avenue and Highway 99.

Children’s apparel store Carter’s and regional Mexican eatery Que Pasa! are also coming soon to this fast-growing part of Fresno.

The Fresno Bee reported that construction on the lot south of Burlington Coat Factory will begin in July with a slated fall 2019 opening.

“With the success of phase one and through our marketing efforts, we’re finding great success in leasing,” said Lewis Smith, senior vice president at Retail California, which is marketing the property.

Southern California-based developers Rich Development and Gryphon Capital will be heading up construction of the next phase of the shopping center on Riverside Drive that began with anchor tenant Target, which opened in 2014.

A second Hobby Lobby, new theater, more stores and restaurants coming

Fresno is getting another Hobby Lobby, along with a movie theater and a slew of other stores and restaurants.

The newcomers will open at Marketplace at El Paseo, the shopping center with Target at Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue. Construction on the second phase of the center will start this summer just south of the existing center.

A few rumors about Hobby Lobby, a craft and home decor store, opening a second location have circulated, but the store has signed a lease with the center, confirmed Chris Shane, a developer and managing partner of Gryphon Capital that’s behind the center. If all goes as planned, the businesses will open in fall 2019.

Hobby Lobby has lots of fans in Fresno and drew big crowds when its first store opened on Blackstone Avenue in 2016.

“They’re doing really well, this was just a natural fit for their second location,” Shane said.

Also, Regal Cinemas is planning a 50,000-square-foot theater in the center. It will be Regal’s higher-end concept. Those theaters often have bars and different food options, but it wasn’t immediately clear what would be different about the northwest Fresno theater.

Regal did not immediately return a phone call about the theater.

And craft beer fans, take note: “I can’t announce who it is, but we’ve got a brewery we’re in final discussions with,” Shane said.

Other new businesses opening in the center: children’s clothing store Carter’s, Cold Stone Creamery and Mexican restaurant and bar Qué Pasa!

More are coming.

“We’ve got a bunch of restaurants and other shops that we’re in negotiations with,” Shane said.

Panera Bread opened Friday in the first phase of the center near Herndon Avenue.

Fresno’s new Olive Garden restaurant almost ready to open

Fresno’s newly built Olive Garden is almost ready.

For years, the area’s sole Olive Garden restaurant on Shaw Avenue in Clovis has attracted crowds willing to wait for their pasta, bread sticks and salad.

The newest Olive Garden opens Monday at the Marketplace at El Paseo, the shopping center near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue in Fresno. The restaurant will open after a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting with the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.

This is the same center that will eventually have a Cracker Barrel Old Country store and restaurant. That down-home restaurant serves comfort food like hash brown casserole and has a country-style store with rocking chairs out front.

Together, Olive Garden and Cracker Barrel have been some of the most anticipated restaurants coming to Fresno. That’s because, in part, they are also some of the most familiar chains to open new locations here.

The new Olive Garden is huge at 7,500 square feet. It can seat 250 and will bring 175 jobs.

The new location will look different, with updated decor, seating and floors.

The restaurant plans to showcase its Tastes of the Mediterranean menu, with dishes under 600 calories like shrimp scampi. Olive Garden still sells classics like lasagna and its $6.99 lunch of unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks.

Olive Garden looking to hire nearly 100 as Northwest Fresno location set to open late June

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Olive Garden is still looking to hire close to 100 people at its newest location in northwest Fresno on Golden State and Herndon.

The restaurant is gearing up to open later this month and hosted a hiring event Saturday where walk-in interviews were held.

Applications were accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and because of the turnout, the restaurant plans to extend the event into Sunday.

Olive Garden is looking to hire for all its positions – everything from bussers to waiters.

The new location is expected to open June 26th.

Cracker Barrel signs lease for Fresno location

Cracker Barrel is coming to Fresno after all.

A local retail broker, Commercial Retail Associates, has reported to The Bee’s leases section that Cracker Barrel has signed a lease. It’s going into a 9,170-square-foot space at the southwest corner of Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive, part of the Marketplace at El Paseo near Highway 99.

Retail brokers help businesses find places to rent and property owners find renters. The agents working on this deal were Sam Bogdanovich and Nathan Negri. Bogdanovich would not comment; Negri could not be reached.

Cracker Barrel has been rumored to be opening a location in Fresno for months. The Bee first reported in February that the Tennessee-based restaurant chain may be coming to town. The restaurant’s name appeared on El Paseo’s website under “coming soon,” but Cracker Barrel would not confirm it was coming.

Also Thursday, a Cracker Barrel representative declined to comment.

The down-home, country-style store and restaurant has long been on Fresno residents’ wish list of businesses they want to see here. Many locals hit up the restaurant while traveling.

Cracker Barrel serves classic American dishes like meatloaf and “chicken n’ dumplins” and has locations in more than 40 states. It’s not clear yet when it will open.

Leasing report: Cracker Barrel is Fresno-bound

There’s even more evidence now that a hotly anticipated Cracker Barrel restaurant will indeed be opening in Fresno.

Local media for the last several months now have been speculating that the country-themed restaurant and gift shop would be opening in the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center near Herndon Avenue and Highway 99 in northwest Fresno. Earlier this month ABC 30 made that announcement, but did not name the source of that information.

The Fresno Bee has been checking up on the rumors for months, since the shopping center’s website,, listed Panera Bread and Cracker Barrel as retailers that are “Coming Soon” to a new phase of the center, which currently has a Target anchor and several other stores.

A recent leasing report from Commercial Retail Associates lists a transaction for 9,170 square feet of space on the southwest corner of Herndon and Riverside avenues to Cracker Barrel.

While confirmation hasn’t come from the developer or restaurant, this may be the most definitive proof of late that Cracker Barrel is indeed Fresno-bound.

The Lebanon, Tennessee-based chain has 642 restaurants (all corporate owned and operated) in 43 states, but none on the West Coast, including California.

The Mercury News reported in February that Cracker Barrel’s first California location would open in Victorville in San Bernardino County.

The chain traces its roots back to 1969, and has developed a reputation “to greet everyone who walks in our front doors with a warm welcome and serve good meals at fair prices.”

Cracker Barrel coming to Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — California will soon get a taste of Cracker Barrel’s fancy fixins’ and it will soon be right here in Fresno.

The country-themed restaurant and gift shop will soon be moving into the El Paseo Shopping Center in Northwest Fresno– right next to the Target store. The Fresno spot will be part of Cracker Barrel’s expansion into California.

Currently there are no open locations in the state for the nationwide chain.

A new Panera Bread will also be built right next door.

Chronic Tacos Opening Two Valley Locations

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — popular taco chain is expanding to the Central Valley. Signs are now up for Chronic Tacos at the El Paseo Shopping Center in Northwest Fresno, which is scheduled to open in July.

They are also opening a location in Clovis at Herndon and Willow which will open next month.

Owners tell us the opening of both locations will create about 60 jobs. They are still looking to fill dozens of positions including cooks, assistant managers, servers and greeters.

Is Cracker Barrel coming to Fresno? Maybe, maybe not

Social media is abuzz with the possibility that the popular Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and its restaurant may open a location in Fresno.

Will it?

Maybe. Maybe not – and there’s several reasons not to get too excited yet.

First, know that the down-home, country-style store and restaurant serving classic American dishes like meatloaf and “chicken n’ dumplins” has locations in more than 40 states. None are in California, though plenty of locals make a point of hitting up Cracker Barrel when they’re traveling.

The recent hubbub stems from a couple of people with keen eyes who turned to Facebook to point out something they saw on the website of the Marketplace at El Paseo, the new shopping center near Herndon Avenue and Highway 99. At the bottom of the page, under the heading “Coming Soon” it says Panera Bread and Cracker Barrel.

That seems like a pretty big piece of proof, but it’s not a guarantee Cracker Barrel is coming.

Why? Because Cracker Barrel isn’t confirming it, for one. When contacted about whether it was opening a location here, the company’s PR firm responded with an email saying, “We’re always considering opportunities for new locations, but we have no announcements to make at this time about opening a new store in Fresno, CA.”

The developer of the shopping center, a frequent source for The Bee, hasn’t returned phone calls.

That matters because sometimes, shopping centers and developers use names of companies they are talking to, maybe even negotiating lease terms with, but haven’t yet finalized a lease or other deal. And sometimes those deals fall through.

Remember how in 2013 Clovis was supposed to get a Chick-fil-A near Herndon and Clovis? It was talked about publicly by people in the know as if it were a sure thing.

But it wasn’t. The deal fell through and the Clovis still doesn’t have a Chick-fil-A.

Back at El Paseo, a walk past two buildings now under construction did not turn up a single worker who knew anything about Cracker Barrel. That’s an Olive Garden, AAA and a few other businesses that are being built now. The shopping center also has a second phase of development coming along Golden State Boulevard.

So until Cracker Barrel confirms it plans to come, or the developer does, it’s too early to start dreaming the hash brown casserole the chain is known for.

2 new restaurants coming, one with deep fried mashed potato tacos

How does a taco stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese and deep fried sound?

That’s one item on the menu of Chronic Tacos, which is headed to Fresno and Clovis. And if burger is more your taste, both cities are also getting more Five Guys burgers and fries restaurants.

Chronic Tacos

Chronic Tacos, with its deep fried taco, is a southern California quick-service Mexican chain with a twist. It is opening in the former Thai Fusion restaurant space, which closed last year, at Herndon and Willow avenues.

The signs are up, but the restaurant still has another month or so before it opens, says Chronic’s social media coordinator Ali Frugé.

Fresno will get a Chronic Tacos too, at the Marketplace at El Paseo in about three or four months. That’s the new shopping center near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue (the one that is also getting an Olive Garden).

But Chronic Tacos isn’t all fried stuff. Most of the menu is made up of more traditional burritos, bowls and salads. Customers choose from proteins like chicken, fish, slow-cooked pork, carne asada or beans and veggies. Like at Chipotle, customers order their meal as they walk down the counter. Everything is customizable.

“You can be as creative as you want,” Frugé says.

Fries are on the menu, however. “Chronic fries” are essentially carne asada fries, but with anything else you want to put on it them.

Five Guys

Five Guys burgers and fries is opening several restaurants in our area, including one under construction at Fashion Fair.

In addition to the restaurants at River Park and the Marketplace at El Paseo near Herndon Avenue and Highway 99, a new Five Guys opened last month at Fowler and Herndon Avenues.

That restaurant is part of new construction on the southeast corner that will soon be home to Chipotle, Jersey Mikes Subs, Sport Clips and Blaze Pizza (but The Phoenician is no longer opening a second restaurant there).

At the Clovis Five Guys, a few people have gathered outside the door each day waiting for its daily 11 a.m. opening.

The restaurant is known for its burgers and fries, of course. Like the other Five Guys, the new restaurants have the stacks of bagged potatoes in the dining room, and free peanuts to munch on while you wait.

One semi-secret menu item: A milkshake with bacon in it.

Five Guys has all the regular flavors of milkshakes, but you can add free mix-ins – mostly traditional things like cherries and Oreo cookie pieces, but bacon too. They get blended into the shake so they’re broken up into small pieces.

“A lot of people underestimate the vanilla and bacon. It’s amazing,” says assistant general manager Natalie Pantoja.

The Fashion Fair Five Guys is still under construction, with no opening date yet.

This restaurant won’t be a tiny food court-style version, but instead a regular size one with indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant is taking over a former store space just to the east of the food court entrance.

A patio is being built for outdoor dining, similar to the existing one outside the food court. No opening date is set yet.

Chinese eatery goes out, new Mexican restaurant comes in: Clovis gets a Rubio’s

Clovis will get its first Rubio’s Coastal Grill Thursday.

There are giveaways – including $50 gift cards and Rubio’s merchandise – for the first 50 customers after the 10 a.m. opening. The restaurant is at 950 Herndon Ave., at Clovis Avenue.

Rubio’s is in the Trading Post Shopping Center, taking over the space Hunan Chinese Restaurant left behind when it closed. (Hunan fans, before you freak out, note that the original Hunan at Cedar and Herndon avenues in Fresno is still open.)

The shopping center has a new owner and underwent an overhaul in recent months. It has a new look and new businesses, including Sprouts, Ross, Tuesday Morning, Skechers and Pieology.

Rubio’s has restaurants at River Park in Fresno and on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia. The fast-casual restaurant is known for its fish tacos and other seafood dishes, along with salads and bowls that can be topped with steak or chicken.

The Clovis location has the chain’s new look.

Two restaurants close, 8 new ones coming

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The good news is there is construction popping up all over town that’s going to hold a slew of new restaurants – some pretty interesting ones, too.

The bad news is two of the area’s well-loved restaurants have closed.

Let’s start with the closures so I can cheer you up after with news of growing local restaurants and funky newcomers.

Thai Fusion Bar & Grill

First, Thai Fusion Bar & Grill at Willow and Herndon avenues in Clovis has closed. It happened pretty fast, with an announcement on its Facebook page Aug. 25 that it would close two days later with a goodbye party.

Why the 10-year-old restaurant closed isn’t exactly clear. The owner’s other restaurant, B&K Asian Kitchen, is still open. It’s in an older neighborhood on First Street near Olive Avenue but gets rave reviews on

As for Thai Fusion, manager Patrick Kimball says we may not have seen the last of the place. He was cryptic, but hinted that we may be seeing more of the people or food at a new location someday.


Hunan Chinese Restaurant in Clovis has closed.

I can just hear the gasps of surprise emanating from readers across the city, but before you get too worried, note that it’s the newer Hunan that opened in 2012 in the Trading Post shopping center at Herndon and Clovis avenues that has closed.

The original location in Fresno, on the southeast corner of Cedar and Herndon in Fresno, is still open.

The Clovis shopping center with the closed restaurant has a new owner and is undergoing some major changes. More on that in a minute.

And now on to happier news.

Chronic Tacos

In northwest Fresno, construction is going hot and heavy at The Marketplace at El Paseo, the shopping center at Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue.

It’s not work on Olive Garden’s second location yet (that I told you about in May) though that construction should start any day now.

Instead, the buildings will hold a Sleep Train mattress store, AAA and Chronic Tacos, confirmed Chris Shane, managing partner of Gryphon Capital that’s behind the center.

Chronic Tacos is definitely something different for Fresno. I’m tempted to call the Southern California company a Chipotle with an attitude, but that doesn’t do it justice.

What does: The founder of the company has “Taco life” tattooed below his knuckles. The restaurants are decorated in Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) themes with say, a skeleton in a sombrero playing a guitar. At one time, Chronic Taco’s most famous franchisees was Jason “Wee man” Acuña, a professional skater and star of the “Jackass” movies and TV series.

But when it comes to the food, Chronic Tacos is essentially a chain taco joint. Customers get to order their exact ingredients like they do at Chipotle for their tacos, burritos, tortas (sandwiches), taquitos, etc. The sauces and flavors are “much more unique,” Shane says.

There are more sit-down restaurants coming to the shopping center, especially between Target and Herndon, but the deals haven’t been finalized just yet.

“We’ve got a lot stuff cool going on, but I can’t talk about it,” Shane says.

Krispy Kreme

Construction on the Krispy Kreme has finally moved past the moving-dirt-around stage.

The steel frame structure on Blackstone Avenue in front of Target at Bullard Avenue – just north of McDonalds – is probably the most salivated-over building in town because so many people are eagerly awaiting the glazed doughnuts that will come from its kitchen – once it has one.

The owner had anticipated a September opening date, but work is clearly behind schedule as it doesn’t have walls yet.

Now the company that owns this location of Krispy Kreme, WKS Restaurant Group, plans for it to be open by mid-November.

“It will certainly be before Thanksgiving,” says Lisa Hignite, WKS senior operations manager.

The nearly finished building next to it will hold a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a Jersey Mike’s Subs and a nail salon. It has space for one other business. Jersey Mike’s is slated to open in late autumn and others will probably open around then too.

Vino Grille & Spirits

Swing back over to the other side of town and there’s more construction underway just north of the Orchard Supply Hardware on Champlain Drive.

One of those buildings is the future home of Vino & Friends, which is in the same center as Orchard. The restaurant is expanding, both in size and in the delectable drinks and eats it will serve, says owner Chuck Van Fleet.

High-end whiskeys, scotch and bourbon will be available, along with cocktails made from them, and more meal options.

Wine will still be a mainstay, of course.

Because of the additions, the business’s name will change to Vino Grille & Spirits. It’s expected to open in January.

A GB3 gym and a dentist’s office are also going into the new center.

Rubio’s, Pieology

Remember the space that Hunan left behind at Clovis and Herndon avenues?

It already has a new renter planning to take it over: Rubio’s, the Mexican seafood place. Fresno has one in River Park and the new Clovis one is scheduled to open in January.

The developer is also breaking ground on what will be two buildings in the shopping center closer to Herndon. One of them will be a Pieology pizzeria.


And one more restaurant that’s not here yet that wants to be, Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

The Chicago-based neighborhood sandwich shop is looking for places to open and franchisees to run restaurants in California, says Rick Fossali, the senior director of domestic franchising. Specifically, the company is looking in Fresno and surrounding cities. This is a long-term plan and, even if all goes swimmingly, we might not see a shop until 2018.

Potbelly serves toasted sandwiches and often has live music.

“During the day you’re going to have a live musician sitting there with a guitar singing some songs,” he says. “It’s a cool environment.”

Shoppers line up at new Ross in Clovis

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Long lines and a full parking lot were seen at the new Ross Dress for Less clothing store in Clovis.

Wet weather didn’t hold shoppers back from attending Saturday’s grand opening. It opened in the Trading Post Shopping Center at Clovis and Herndon, just weeks after a new Sprouts Market opened up.

A Sketchers and Pieology are expected to open in the area as well.