It takes a certain amount of bravery for a chain Mexican restaurant to open in Fresno, a city already overflowing with fantastic Mexican joints.
But Cafe Rio Mexican Grill is going for it.
The restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 242 E. River Parkway Circle, a few doors down from Dave & Buster’s (which, by the way, is tentatively scheduled to open Oct. 17).
This is Cafe Rio’s first restaurant in Central California and its 11th in the state. The Salt Lake City-based company has 99 restaurants.
And it probably won’t compete with hometown Mexican favorites like Don Pepe because Cafe Rio is a different kind of restaurant.
Like Chipotle, it’s a place where you stand in line and pick exactly what you want in your burritos, enchiladas, tacos, salads or quesadillas. It’s all made in front of you, starting with the person making the tortillas.
It has no freezers or microwaves. And the boxes of fresh limes and other veggies that serve as decor above the counter will be brought down with a ladder and used in the food.
Cafe Rio’s food is also a tiny bit different because it’s inspired by food from the Rio Grande region of northern Mexico, southern Texas and New Mexico. That means there will be Hatch chilies in the sauce and you can get chips and salsa with queso – melted cheese spiked with chilies and spices.
If you check it out, you’ll notice the construction between Cafe Rio and Dave & Buster’s. That’s Ride 54, a high-energy cycling and fitness studio and Sourdough & Co., a sandwich, soup and salad place.
Sourdough & Co. is looking to open a few more locations in the Fresno area, according to the founder.
The popular downtown spot had closed for a few months while it sought investors, but that didn’t happen, as our story Friday explained. Owner Craig Scharton said it wasn’t the lack of money that took the business down, but rather his own lack of experience running the operational side of such a business.
The reaction to the news was fast and warmhearted, with many customers thanking Peeve’s on its Facebook page for serving them.
At the opposite end of the corporate spectrum is Peachy King Frozen Yogurt opened by newlyweds in southeast Fresno.
When the shop first opened last week, it didn’t even have a sign. Find it at 5247 E. Kings Canyon Road, on the northeast corner of Peach Avenue and Kings Canyon Road. It’s between the Popeyes and the urgent care place. Just look for the bright orange walls.
If you’re paying close attention, you noticed the name Peachy King is a combo of the streets the shop is on.
Peachy King has lots of the typical frozen yogurt flavors and toppings, with a few unusual ones like butter brickle. I’m betting some readers remember the toffee-flavored ice cream with that name. The frozen yogurt version tastes a lot like the salted caramel pretzel flavor so common today.
Sarah and Colby Carmicheal, both 30, opened the shop before they’d even hit their first anniversary. Married in November, the pair live “right down the street,” in the Sunnyside area, Sarah says. But when they got a frozen yogurt craving, they’d have to drive a while to find it.
Colby had been toying with the idea for a while and together they decided to go for it.
“We dove in feet first,” says Sarah. “We’re excited to be able to spend the time together.”
The couple is still working their day jobs in addition to running the shop. He works for an earth-moving and paving company, and she’s in student financial services at Fresno Pacific University.
If you’re getting the impression that this is an upbeat couple, you’re right.
“We like to tell people to ‘Keep it peachy,’ ” Sarah says.
Vegans at CVS
CVS is making a play for vegans this fall by stocking vegan snacks near the front of its Fresno-area stores with a “Vegan Trend Zone” sign.
Some of the snacks are already carried by the store. “Cult favorites” – that’s what CVS calls them – the stores already carry include Larabars, Mamma Chia snacks made from chia seeds and Go Raw brand products like raisin crunch sprouted bites.