Four new restaurants are coming to the Fulton Mall.
The Indian food and pasta restaurants are already open and you can get tamales and burgers at two new restaurants soon.
What's going on? Is this a flood of restaurants jumping onto the mall, snapping up real estate before it's opened up to cars in hopes that an influx of customers will come with it?
There's no easy answer there. Some say, 'Heck, yes.' Others say they'd be there even if the Fulton Mall stayed closed to cars.
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But the important thing is there's going to be more good food on Fulton Mall. So let's talk about what you can eat.
Indian Heritage Restaurant Express
The Indian restaurant with the familiar name opened about two weeks ago. It's at 2019 Mariposa Mall, which is the short mall that intersects with Fulton Mall and leads to the county courthouse.
Indian Heritage Restaurant Express is a smaller, fast-food version of Indian Heritage Restaurant, Bar & Grill on Clovis Avenue in Clovis. Owner Amrick Sandhu said many of his customers work downtown and told him the area needed some Indian food.
The downtown location is open for lunch on weekdays. Customers can choose from various lunch plates that come with rice, salad and the Indian bread naan. There's a butter chicken lunch plate for $8.99, for example, two vegetarian options and a Tandoori chicken wrap that uses naan as the wrap for $8.99.
Indian Heritage does catering for office parties and meetings, too.
Details: (559) 233-2000.
Right next door is the Trendy Pasta Company at 2017 Mariposa Mall.
It's quick Italian food. Pick your pasta, pick one of four sauces — or all sauces mixed together — and then add sausage and peppers, meatballs or grilled chicken.
The pasta is $2.99 for a small dish, $4.99 for a large.
There's all kinds of other specials, too, often including a simple lasagna. Trendy is open weekdays for lunch.
If you like to be entertained by your restaurateurs, this place is for you. Mike and Rosalie Cook run the place with partner Matthew McComas, who usually is hiding in the kitchen (but that's his art you see on the walls).
Mike Cook — yes, he realizes the coincidence of being a chef named Cook — is the showman who will greet you with a snippet of Italian when you walk in the door. And if you're a woman, he's probably going to call you "sweetheart" or "babe."
"You might love my pasta, but if you like me, you're going to come back more often," he says.
You can see him pulling my leg a little in a video I recorded of him attached to this story.
The restaurateurs weren't planning to open near Fulton Mall — in fact, they visited the spot to rule it out, Cook said. They were just looking for a decent kitchen to support their catering business.
But when they sat on a bench and watched the number of people walking by, they decided to go for it, while continuing the catering business, Cook said.
They've got big plans in the works for a grand opening event, something involving relay races with tricycles and food challenges, like downing a bowl of pasta, or a quad shot of espresso at nearby The Little Bean Cafe.
Details: www.Facebook.com/trendypasta or (559) 577-0186.
Take 3 Burgers
One future restaurant that is pinning its hopes on Fulton Mall opening to traffic is Take 3 Burgers at 1230 Fulton Mall.
The burger joint isn't open yet, and won't be until at least the end of June. Owner Brian Washington is a local building contractor who used to own the Monster Burger restaurant on Elm Avenue in west Fresno in the late 1980s and early '90s.
There will be a monster burger — a burger with bacon, egg, a sliced hot dog, cheese, onion rings and "all the fixin's" — on the menu, along with other gourmet burgers.
The restaurant will have a movie theme and host Art Hop events.
The location is across the mall from the Parsley Cafe (which could get interesting since Parsley is a big burger place, too).
Washington, a Fresno native, has been following the Fulton Mall saga closely. If all goes as planned, it will be at least two years before the mall opens to traffic. A lawsuit filed in March could jeopardize that.
But Washington made his decision in hopes that the mall would open to traffic and wanted to get his business in before it did.
"I can't market it to the outside world the way it stands," he says. "If the street is open and there's street-front parking, I can market that."
Casa de Tamales
Casa de Tamales has secured a location on Fulton Mall for a restaurant. They can't tell us where yet — though they will say it's near Tulare Avenue — because of some behind-the-scenes reasons.
The couple behind Casa de Tamales will continue to sell at their restaurant on West Shaw Avenue and through their mobile carts.
When the Fulton Mall restaurant opens at the beginning of September, they'll sell both their tamales and their Absolutely Tapas concept that includes tortas and fish tacos.
Co-owner Jose Aguilar says success at The Market on Kern on Wednesdays and at Cart Hop on the mall emboldened Casa's owners to find a restaurant location on the mall, too.
And they wanted to get in now, before the street opened up and rents climb, he says.
"We would have gone down there regardless of whether the street was opening up," he says. "Having said that, we do think the street (opening) will be a positive thing. I think it will increase traffic."