Catherine and Shane Smith are working to make their new Clovis bar, Miss Kitty's Lounge, a comfortable neighborhood hangout with a relaxed atmosphere for female customers.
The Smiths opened the business in late August in a strip mall at Herndon and Armstrong avenues. The 2,500-square-foot space was a pizza parlor before sitting vacant for a couple of years.
Some of the Smiths' older customers erroneously presume that the bar's name is derived from the old TV western series "Gunsmoke," in which actress Amanda Blake portrayed a saloon-keeper named Miss Kitty Russell. Nope, the bar is named for Catherine, nicknamed "Cat" because of her love of all things feline — including nearly a dozen cats that she has rescued over the years.
For years, Shane Smith managed a bar his family owns in Fresno, but he wanted to open his own place. Catherine worked as a wedding coordinator for a Fresno banquet hall until quitting recently to put all of her effort into the bar.
The couple began serious planning in September 2012, but state liquor licenses for bars that don't include a restaurant are few and far between.
The Smiths had to wait nearly six months until a license came up for auction through the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Once they had a license, they had to find a place. Officials with ABC and the city of Clovis told them that the Old Town Clovis district already was saturated with bars, so they had to look elsewhere. Shane Smith said he checked more than two dozen sites before getting approval for the Herndon/Armstrong location earlier this year
The couple did much of the interior remodeling themselves. "I retiled the floor, and I've never tiled anything before," Catherine Smith said. She and her husband repainted the place, and Shane Smith built the long bar.
Miss Kitty's (phone (559) 299-2025, on Facebook at http://bit.ly/MssKitty) includes a pool table and a juke box loaded with classic rock, country, reggae and other styles of music — except for rap and hip-hop.
From the pale purple paint to vintage-style pinup art to the staff of six female bartenders, "we wanted to make it friendly to women," Shane Smith said. "We just want a comfortable, relaxed, sensual vibe."
But it's not an all-ladies place. "The boys like it, too, because this is where the girls are," Catherine Smith said with a laugh.
The bar's hours are 1 p.m.-ish to 2 a.m. seven days a week. Food is limited to a few vegetarian snack items like personal pizzas or mozzarella sticks.
"We don't want to be a restaurant, and we don't want to be a dance club," Catherine Smith said. "We're a lounge."
A pair of Fresno State students are finalists in the World Ag Expo's 2014 video competition.
Students Michael Price and Connor Alstrom learned recently that their five-minute entry, "Fresno State Trains Students to Feed Tomorrow's World" made it to the final round for a chance at the $3,000 cash prize.
The student-produced video is one of 10 finalists in the video contest. Expo officials asked entrants to find creative ways to tell the story of agriculture.
The Fresno State production used students from the Plant Science Department in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Lyle's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the College of Arts and Humanities.
Alstrom is an entrepreneurship major from Fresno and a Craig Business Scholar who went through the Lyles Center Student Hatchery program at Fresno State.
Price is a Mass Communication and Journalism major from Fresno and a current hatchery student with his own private venture, Price Right Productions.
The students said they made the Ag Expo video to show how Fresno State leads the Central Valley in producing educated workers in the agriculture industry.
The contest winner is determined by the number of public votes, and supporters can vote once daily until Jan 27.
The winner will be announced on Jan. 31, two weeks before the annual expo in Tulare, Feb.11-13, where the top video will be played and recognized.
To vote, visit the Expo website at: www.worldagexpo.com/topvideos.
Bee business reporters Tim Sheehan and Robert Rodriguez contributed to Word on the Street. It was compiled by Sheehan. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6319, email@example.com or @tsheehan on Twitter.