Sanger brewery House of Pendragon and Visalia Mediterranean restaurant Pita Kabob won the Downtown Fresno Create Here Business Plan Competition, securing a grand prize of business-related services valued around $100,000.
“We looked at job creation, the personal investment these businesses would bring and what they could add to the downtown Fresno business mix,” said Aaron Blair, president of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.
“A new gastropub was high on our list of priorities, and they’ll create over 30 jobs – which is huge for downtown Fresno.”
The partnership received $10,000, a $24,000 media package from television station KSEE 24, a year of free rent at one of seven Civic Center Square locations in downtown Fresno and a variety of smaller prizes ranging from free flooring to information technology support.
House of Pendragon owner and brewmaster Tommy Caprelian said he and Pita Kabob owner Chafic Dada already are working to secure permits and licensing for their new 7,000-square-foot location on Van Ness Boulevard near Inyo Street. This spot was not offered up as a prize; the ownership duo decided to forgo the free rent to choose a bigger locale.
Caprelian said he has asked the Downtown Fresno Partnership to give that rent-free location to Raw Fresno, which finished second in the competition.
Blair said the partnership and the corporate sponsors of the event have yet to finalize the consolation prize to Raw Fresno, but the organic food truck business likely will get a year of free rent for a brick-and mortar location.
The public spoke, and they really wanted something like this downtown.
Tommy Caprelian, owner of House of Pendragon
Caprelian hopes to have the new place operating by February.
“This is a true partnership with Pita Kabob,” Caprelian said. “Our beer, their food – it will be a one-stop restaurant.”
Caprelian said the House of Pendragon tap house on Willow Avenue in Clovis will remain open. He also is expanding his brewing operations to a second location in Sanger.
He hopes to have around 30 taps at the new location. Half will feature House of Pendragon beer, while the others will host guest beers from throughout the Valley and beyond.
Caprelian and Dada also won the public choice award, netting them an additional $500.
The partnership beat out more than 20 other business plans for the prize package, Blair said. The other four finalists were Raw Fresno, Tree of Life Cafe, Papa Steve and Nienna and Char.
Some of the competitors are moving into downtown Fresno anyway. Fitness 365 is about ready to open in the CityView @ Van Ness apartment building just a few feet away from the new House of Pendragon location, and Root General Store set up shop next to Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall.
Blair said the competition’s coordinators and sponsors will take stock of its inaugural year before deciding to run another one, but he is optimistic that Create Here will continue.
“It’s early, but I thought it was quite successful.”