Food & Drink

Hold tight Fresno, Steak n’ Shake is coming, but not yet

The Steak ‘n Shake restaurant in front of Walmart on Kings Canyon Road near Peach Avenue has yet to open.
The Steak ‘n Shake restaurant in front of Walmart on Kings Canyon Road near Peach Avenue has yet to open.

Oh, Fresno, I know you’re desperate for the city’s first Steak ‘n Shake to open, but you have to sit tight for a few more a few weeks.

The restaurant on Kings Canyon Road in front of the Walmart Supercenter near Peach Avenue looks done from the outside, but it’s not. Eager diners have been calling and emailing me about its opening date and stopping by the restaurant daily.

“It’s almost a full-time job fielding the question ‘When are you opening?’” says Eric LeVaughn, vice president of San Dimas-based Sater Oil, the company that owns the Steak ‘n Shake franchise and the Del Taco next door.

Here’s what I know: There is no exact opening date set. The owners estimate it will open in late February or early March. They are still putting the finishing touches on the kitchen and its equipment. Once that’s done, the employees will start training inside the restaurant.

In the meantime, the owners would like you to know that the new Del Taco next door is open. And there’s more Steak ‘n Shakes headed to Fresno – more on that in a moment.

The Del Taco opened last week.

“We’ve been building these buildings for so long now, with the Steak ‘n Shake still not open, with that big parking lot, folks aren’t ... quite getting that the Del Taco is open,” LeVaughn says.

Another Del Taco owned by the same company opened in later December on Herndon Avenue near Sunnyside Avenue. The company plans to expand to eight to 10 Del Taco locations in the area.

It’s not as exciting as Steak ‘n Shake because the Fresno area already has three Del Tacos and there are two in Tulare County. The closest Steak ‘n Shakes are in Campbell and Victorville.

Eventually, the Fresno area will get more Steak ‘n Shakes.

“With the reception that we’re getting, this territory should have at least six Steak ‘n Shakes,” LeVaugn says.

They could take a while though, because they want to focus on opening the Fresno location and another in a former bowling alley on Childs Avenue in Merced first.

The company plans to open 48 locations statewide.

Back in November when The Bee first broke the news that the restaurant was coming, a debate arose on Facebook about the location.

One commenter said the location was “in the ghetto” and another said it should have opened in north Fresno first.

When asked why the company chose Kings Canyon, LeVaugn says: “We chose the spot because it needed to be developed. We’re out here in front of the super Walmart, we felt it was a good investment to be in this section of town.”

The area could easily supply enough employees and the prices at both restaurants are fit the demographics of the people who live and work nearby, he says. An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 daytime workers in the area, in addition to the population that lives there.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough