Bethany Clough

Big-name restaurants first of changes at Manchester Center

Construction of a new structure on the west side of the Manchester Center property along Blackstone Avenue continues. The Habit and a Chipotle are new tenants.
Construction of a new structure on the west side of the Manchester Center property along Blackstone Avenue continues. The Habit and a Chipotle are new tenants. ezamora@fresnobee.com

A building under construction in front of Manchester Center will soon be home to Chipotle, The Habit Burger Grill and other new restaurants.

The building faces Blackstone Avenue and is just south of the FAX transit center. Several months of work remain, with the restaurants expected to open sometime this spring.

It’s the first big change that the center’s new owners from Beverly Hills are planning for the aging mall. Also in the works is a new food court that will host a slew of local restaurants inside the mall.

Images of Omninet Capital’s plans place Chipotle on the Blackstone side of the building and Habit Burger on the Manchester side.

In between are room for two more restaurants that haven’t been announced yet, says Manchester general manager Moe Bagunu.

It’s going to have a mix of sweet dessert waffles and also savory waffles.

Philip Hsia

Once open, the Chipotle will be the eighth Chipotle in Fresno and Clovis. That may seem like a lot, but Chipotles always seem to have a long line of customers waiting and the chain is considered the boss of the quick-service restaurant industry.

It will be the fourth Habit Burger in Fresno and Clovis.

Inside the mall, renovations are going hot and heavy in the former Gottschalks store, though you wouldn’t know it because windows covered in black plastic hide the mess. It’s the beginning stages of what the mall calls a marketplace – essentially a fancy food court.

You may remember when we first told you about the local restaurants and food trucks in September that will have mini restaurants there.

The latest to sign on are two concepts run by a brother of one of the owners of Rocket Dog Brats & Brew. Philip Hsia is moving here from the Bay Area to open what’s tentatively called Grids and Grounds and Pineapple Kitchen with two partners, one a chef.

The first is a waffle and coffee place that will have chicken and waffles, of course. But it will also other savory waffle dishes and sweet desserts, some inspired by travels to Asia.

Expect some creativity.

“It … may be a waffle shape, but not necessarily the traditional waffle batter, but it might be made from potatoes or cheese,” Hsia says.

Pineapple Kitchen is an Asian fusion concept with its own take on bowls that are so popular these days (rice bowls, the raw pieces of fish in poke bowls, etc.). It may also be among the first to introduce Fresno to bao, a “soft pillowy piece of bread” folded like a taco and stuffed with other ingredients.

Also headed for Manchester’s food court: Green’s Family Grill, Med Wraps Cafe, Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats & Brew, Yummyz Street Treats, Southern Twist, Smokin’ Burrito and Tomo’s Japanese Restaurant.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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