Food & Drink

Elephant Bar's the latest, but we still haven't gotten over losing these restaurants

The Daily Planet restaurant near the historic Tower Theater, left a hole in the restaurant scene when it closed in 2005.
The Daily Planet restaurant near the historic Tower Theater, left a hole in the restaurant scene when it closed in 2005. FRESNO BEE

When Fresno’s Elephant Bar shut down this week with little advance notice, it was a reminder that food is a hard business and that restaurants (even some of our favorites) close all the time and for a host of reasons.

Some are quickly forgotten. Others leave lasting memories.

Here are five Fresno restaurants that are sure to be remembered.

Daily Planet – When the Daily Planet closed in 2005, it was the end of an era in the Tower District. The restaurant opened on Wishon Avenue next to Tower Theatre in 1980 and was instrumental in transforming the neighborhood with its art deco design, craft cocktails (before craft cocktails were a thing) and signature pot roast. Peeve’s Public House briefly put that pot roast on its menu last year. People freaked.

Claim Jumper – Fresnans loved Claim Jumper, with its massive portions and Gold Rush-themed decor. When the restaurant opened in 2005 – at Blackstone and Nees avenues – the company said it had more requests to open from Fresno than from any other city. That love did not save the restaurant, which closed after its parent company was bought out of bankruptcy. It had been open five years.

Wiliker’s Bar and Grill –Sitting near Shaw and Cedar avenues, just across from Fresno State, Wiliker’s established itself as a hip restaurant and after-hours spot in the early 1990s. It was the kind of place where you might see Alan Autry hanging out in his pre-mayor days. Or Patrick Swayze, who was rumored to have eaten at the restaurant while in town filming “Roadhouse.” After several run-ins with the law (including having its liquor license suspended), the restaurant was sold, renamed and eventually closed.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor – For those of a certain age, this may be the most remembered restaurant in Fresno. The restaurant/ice-creamery was located in Fig Garden Village in a space that would later become an Applebee’s. It has since been demolished and replaced by a Chase bank.

Some have not given up on Farrell’s and its infamous Pig Trough and marching band drum returning to Fresno. The Bring Farrells back to Fig Garden Village Facebook page has close to 3,000 followers. And there is some hope. Early this month, a Farrell’s reopened in Buena Park.

The Peppermill – The Peppermill oozed a kind of old-school Las Vegas charm (maybe it was closer to a Reno charm). The decor was all smoked mirrors and black vinyl seats, lit mostly by tiny lights near the ceiling and floor. It was the kind of place you’d expect to pop up in a news story about California’s smoking ban, which it did, in a Fresno Bee story from 1994. The restaurant closed in 2001, after 23 years. The location (on Blackstone Avenue just north of Shaw Avenue) has seen a succession of restaurants since. It currently houses Yosemite Falls Cafe.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

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