A little bit of Margaritaville has landed in Friant.
Sandals at the Beach opened last month on Friant Road. It's a burger, sandwich and ice cream joint with a walk-up window, outdoor seating and a beach volleyball court.
The owners really wanted a whimsical feel: There are tiki torches, a thatched roof, even sandal-shaped pavers leading up to the restaurant. Our interview — and their staff meetings — happened in a second-story tiki hut.
"None of us wanted just a hamburger joint," said Patrick Murray, one of the owners.
Sandals serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has all the basics — burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc. — but there's some creativity thrown in there, too. You can get a burger with "sunburned" bacon (bacon flavored with Tabasco and other seasonings) and blue cheese, a hot dog wrapped in bacon or a date shake.
Sandals offers a vegan burger, and a protein burger for the no-carb folks. The restaurant carries ice cream from Rosa Brothers in Hanford and Fresno State. And since so many cyclists requested it, there's a sugar-free vanilla shake, too.
Jerry Steward, another of the owners, grew up in Hawaii, so he made sure Sandals carries shaved ice with a topping similar to condensed milk that he says is true Hawaii shaved ice.
Sandals is at 17541 N. Friant Road (on the left if you're driving up from Fresno). It's across the street from the Dam Diner, which is temporarily closed (the owner has confirmed that it will reopen Saturday).
Sandals has been getting a mix of locals, cyclists and people coming and going from Millerton Lake.
Opening soon: Capo's …
There are a couple of restaurants getting ready to open that I'm betting are going to attract a lot of attention once they do. The first is Capo's by Giuseppe Gallo's, which will open in the Park Place shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues. It will take over the space left behind by The Venue and Twist.
The restaurant is a second location for Giuseppe Gallo's, an Italian restaurant at Willow and Nees in Clovis. The existing location is busting at the seams, so the owners decided to add a second location on the other side of town.
But don't go there yet. Capo's is slated to open the last week of August.
… and High Sierra Grill
If you drive past Bullard and West avenues, you've been watching the progress of the soon-to-open High Sierra Grill. This restaurant is in the Pavilion West shopping center, in the space left behind when Bentley's Steaks Seafood and Ribs closed.
It's owned by the same people who own the Yosemite Falls Cafe restaurants and is scheduled to open Aug. 26.
Half the restaurant will be quick-service style where customers walk up and order and a cashier calls out their number. The other half will have waiters and waitresses who serve you.
High Sierra Grill will have a limited menu that includes tri-tip, burgers, sandwiches and meal-size salads.
Contest supports Honor Flight
I don't need an excuse to stuff myself silly with ice cream, but if you do, here's one. The Old Clovis Hotel Bistro is having an ice cream bar eating contest at 7 p.m. Friday and the money raised goes toward a good cause.
The $10 entry fee and any donations made by the audience go to the Central Valley Honor Flight. That organization charters planes to take WWII vets to visit the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"All these guys now are late 80s, early 90s and we're losing thousands of them a year," says Old Clovis Hotel Bistro co-owner Bill Shipley.
Crystal Creamery and Producers Dairy are providing the ice cream. Contestants get eight minutes to eat as many bars as they can. The event happens during the Clovis Farmers Market so the rest of us can gawk at the well-intentioned overeaters.
This is the second such contest hosted by the Old Clovis Hotel Bistro. Next month, they'll bring back memories of that cringe-inducing scene in "Cool Hand Luke" with a hard-boiled egg eating contest.