Eating Out: Produce, local food may get Fresno home

The Fresno BeeOctober 28, 2013 

The folks at Peeve's Public House & Local Market have a vision: A downtown market selling local eggs, brownies, honey and more that doubles as a way to show off the Fresno area's homegrown products.

The pub part of Peeve's is up and running at 1243 Fulton Mall, serving "hyper local" foods from the Fresno area and a list of craft beers it would take months to get through.

The local market doesn't exist yet, but the staff at Peeve's is hoping a Kickstarter.com fundraising campaign that ends Saturday will get it off the ground.

The business is seeking $18,500 from the public to pay for converting the former jewelry store attached to Peeve's into the public market.

The money would pay for a refrigerator, freezer and other renovations, using existing materials, whether it's old barn wood or perhaps wood from the former Cedar Lanes Bowling Center.

It also would help launch a website selling the local goods.

You can find out more at Kickstarter.com and searching "Peeve's." There you'll see a fun video by Peeve's owner and manager and Peeve, the dog (who steals the spotlight during the credits).

The humans in the video will explain how they envision the market as a way to grow local companies and boost Fresno's food-based economy, along with giving downtown residents a place to grocery shop — all rolled up in one slightly quirky, downhome, uniquely Fresno package.

Kickstarter campaigns are popping up everywhere these days, and they often don't make their fundraising goals. But Peeve's really looks like it has a chance. As of Monday, it had raised more than $10,000. Kickstarter statistics show that projects that meet 40% of their total — which Peeve's already has — usually make it the rest of the way.

Plus, Peeve's has a stable of supporters who are mobilizing. A customer offered to drum up 10 $100 pledges (the public can pledge as little as $1. If Peeve's doesn't make its goal, nobody gets charged).

This week a taco night fundraiser was held and the people at Raizana Tea are holding one today. They're turning their weekly "free tea Wednesday," from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., into a fundraiser, charging $1 for a cup of tea and accepting extra donations. The money all goes toward the Kickstarter campaign.

Peeve's already has about 40 local vendors interested in selling their food products.

Let's switch gears a little and talk about what some of them are doing.

Several local foodie businesses, including ones that would sell at Peeve's, are doing their own fundraising. They're competing for a grant from Chase bank's Mission Main Street program. Each business needs 250 votes from the public by Nov. 15 to qualify. You can vote for them at MissionMainStreetGrants.com.

The nationwide competition will award 12 small businesses grants of $250,000. There's an awful lot of businesses competing for this money. Even if our local guys don't get the money, it's a great excuse for this column to touch base with a group of dynamic foodies.

Raw Fresno

Chef Naomi Hendrix of RawFresno.com serves her raw food entrees, desserts and drinks at the Kaiser Farmers Market and Peeve's. The more natural a food is, the better it is for you, the thinking goes.

She has been working on a food truck for a while now and applied for the Chase grant to help her finish it. Regardless of whether she gets the money, Hendrix will plow ahead with plans to finish the truck and participate in the CartHop food truck events around the city.

The business name is Raw Fresno, but Hendrix has affectionately dubbed the truck "Minerva the RawMeister." For some reason, driving the big truck reminds Hendrix of her grandmother, Minerva. Hendrix's 8-year-old grandson came up with the "RawMeister" part.

The truck — which was formerly a mobile machinist's truck and probably a bread truck before that — eventually will feature solar panels and run on vegetable oil.

Details: RawFresno.com.

Engelmann Cellars

The Fresno winery is gearing up to build a new tasting room. It has the money to build it, just not enough money to outfit it the way they want it.

Right now the winery's tasting room is in an old raisin shed that it has outgrown. The new tasting room will be bigger, with a long bar and big windows allowing visitors to look out over the vineyards. It will have upgraded restrooms, too.

If all goes as planned, it should be open by June.

If the winery gets the grant, Bret Engelman says he would love to deck out the tasting room with "steakhouse restrooms" (the opposite of generic, basic ones), extra-nice fixtures and a commercial dish washer — among other details.

Either way, Engelmann Cellars is having a bang-up year. They'll make 3,300 cases of wine this year, up from 2,500. Their wines keep flying off the shelves at the five area Costco stores. And this year's cabernet grapes, Engelman says, "probably those are the best cabernet grapes I've seen since we've been here."

He has been working 12- to 16-hours days lately harvesting grapes, but is having fun doing it.

"I'm tired as heck, but you're happy because you love it," he says.

Details: EngelmannCellars.com.

Deb's Gourmet

Another quickly growing business is Deb's Gourmet. Debi Franklin started selling her sweet and smoky chipotle pickled jalapeños two years ago. She introduced a new flavor — simply smoky jalapeños — in August and it's now selling just as well as the original flavor.

The jalapeños are available in 64 restaurants, 14 Albertsons along the coast and Bakersfield, and she recently signed a deal with her fourth distributor, this one in Dallas.

Piemonte's Italian Delicatessen in the Tower District recently began selling the jars. And On the Edge coffee shop in Old Town Clovis started offering sandwiches, and puts the jalapeños on their roast beef sandwiches. The jalapeños will be in Chukchansi Park as condiments next season.

Franklin is ready to grow even more and would use the grant money to increase her production, do more marketing and advertising, and hire a couple of sales people.

Details: DebsGourmet.com.

Ooh De Lolli

Remember the woman selling ice pops in a little red cart with a big red umbrella?

She's added ice cream now. Ooh De Lolli owner Donna Mott is selling small cartons of the ice cream at Peeve's in four flavors: triple gingerbread, persimmon cardamom, maple bacon and black garlic.

Black garlic is a trendy new ingredient chefs are playing with that involves fermenting a head of garlic for 40 days. If you're like me, your reaction at this point might be "ew," but don't judge until you try it, Mott says.

She says the garlic is sweet, slightly salty and has the texture of a date. Two people she has served it to without telling them what's in it have said it tastes like caramel.

She also plans to begin selling an ice cream cake that some of our longtime readers may recognize. Foremost Dairy once sold "flaming ice cream snowballs," a round ice cream cake rolled in coconut and sold with a candle and a sprig of holly on top.

Mott wants to sell her own version with a rich chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Keep an eye on Facebook.com/OohDeLolli for more details on that.

She has started working out of the former Keith's BoxCar Cafe, which closed in September.

If she gets the grant, she would like to create a shared kitchen incubator that would help small food businesses get their start. Such a kitchen could be used as a teaching space for local schools, too.

It plays into her longtime dream of a public market where fledgling businesses can sell their products.

Strib Wings

The Clovis-based online business has been selling hot sauce, barbecue sauce, spice rubs and gourmet mustard since 2007. Many people know Strib Wings' pulled pork sandwiches served at Milla Vineyard events.

Owner Stephanie Stribling wants to grow the business. She would use the grant money for a food truck that would sell sandwiches and wings, along with jars of the sauces.

She also hopes to land the sauces on store shelves soon.

Details: StribWings.com

Mabel's Kitchen

Susan Valiant, the woman behind Mabel's Kitchen, plans to open in her new location in mid November. She is taking over the former Kern Street Coffee space at 2134 Kern St., downtown.

The space doesn't have a full-fledged kitchen, though, so she would use the grant money to further outfit the space and grow her business. Right now she can bake there and plans to sell her paninis, bierrocks and all kinds of baked goods: foccacia, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread and Portuguese sweet bread.

You can vote for the businesses online at MissionMainStreetGrants.com.

Other food businesses participating in the competition but could not be reached before deadline include the Phoenician Garden restaurant and Bravo Beverage.

Pomegranate festival

The third Madera pomegranate festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Madera Municipal Airport.

The event has more vendors this year, music, cooking demonstrations, a "pomegranate grenade" launch and kids activities. Admission is free.

Even if you don't go, it's worth checking out the wacky video made by promoters of the event. You can see Madera's mayor dancing in a pink puffy coat and pomegranate shirt and other silliness at PomegranateFestival.com.

Dickey's Barbecue

A new Dickey's Barbecue Pit has opened in Hanford at 240 North 12th Ave. in the Marketplace at Hanford shopping center. The franchise with the focus on slow, smoked barbecue opened Oct. 17.

Porterville has a Dickey's and downtown Visalia will be getting one in December or January.

 

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on fresnobeehive.com.

The Fresno Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service