One of the first things I learned when I moved to the Valley over a decade ago was that this is In-N-Out Burger country. Hanford is no exception.
Hanford doesn't have an In-N-Out, but its residents are so passionate about the chain, they've spent the past 23 months trying to lure it to town. They recently got the news they've been waiting for: In-N-Out is coming.
The restaurant is in the very beginning stages -- as in, just barely submitting plans to the city -- and should eventually open on 12th Avenue in front of the Walmart.
Just how much do people love this chain?
Well, one of the biggest Hanford campaigners is planning to have the red palm trees from the company's cup tattooed on his wrists. He and others have been part of the "Bring In-N-Out to Hanford" Facebook page campaign that started nearly two years ago.
The page has nearly 8,700 "likes."
Fans say they love the food (especially the "secret" menu), the chain's Christian values and the fact that the chain pays its employees well.
A petition asking the company to bring the restaurant to Hanford picked up more than 8,000 signatures, including from local soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.
A fire truck in the homecoming parade was decorated with an In-N-Out theme.
Good Morning America host Josh Elliot has gotten in on the action, too, pushing a Hanford In-N-Out on local TV spots and promising to come to the ribbon cutting.
So did the hard work of In-N-Out fans pay off?
Vice president of planning and development Carl Van Fleet said the effort is an "incredible compliment and it definitely got our attention."
But like many retailers and restaurants, the company has a formula that requires a certain population density and other demographic information that will ensure a restaurant will be successful.
Still, Travis Paden, the eighth-grade algebra teacher who founded the Facebook page, believes their efforts were the reason the chain gave Hanford a second look after turning it down years ago.
And at this point, who really cares? Hanford is getting an In-N-Out. That's music to the ears of MichaelAnthony LaCrue, the guy who is promising to get In-N-Out tattoos. He has been calling the company, asking it to open a Hanford location ever since he moved to Hanford about two decades ago.
He said last week: "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 ... They are coming to Hanford!!!!"
Riley's Brewing Co.
Remember Riley's Brewing Co. in Madera?
Beer drinkers soon will be seeing a lot more of the locally made beer with the alluring ladies on the label. A distributor has taken on the brewing company as a client, meaning that instead of a Riley's employee racing around to all 126 locations selling the beer, a fleet of truck drivers will deliver it to stores and restaurants.
That means customers will be more likely to find the beer for sale in Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. Perhaps one of the biggest places to get it is Grocery Outlet.
The beer, with the rapidly growing fan base, is outselling Budweiser, Coors and Stella Artois at Cafe Via, a restaurant near Herndon and Blackstone avenues, the chef and owner says.
Riley's also is getting ready to debut a new flavor. Cougar, an "easy-drinking pale ale" will soon join Sancha, Vixen and Wildcat.
Cask & Cork Bistro & Pourhouse
Upheaval at the Cask & Cork Bistro & Pourhouse has closed the restaurant, at least temporarily.
Some drama among the partners who own the restaurant at Friant and Fort Washington roads led to its closure. But one owner tells me the restaurant may soon be bought by new owners and reopened.
In the meantime, that partner, photographer Kelley Nelson, and his wife are working on opening their own restaurant in Old Town Clovis.
They're not saying where, only that it's in a "great spot" and they hope to open in April.