Bethany Clough

One day only: Where to eat, drink and shop at Fulton Street’s grand reopening party

Fulton Street makes its big debut Saturday.

Closed to cars since it became a pedestrian mall in 1964, a big celebration is planned for reopening the two-way street. There will be temporary restaurants and shops, beer gardens, live music on three stages and food trucks.

It’s too early to know what Fulton Street will look like on a regular day after it opens, or what kind of nightlife and businesses it will attract. But Saturday’s event is designed to give people a glimpse of what it could look like, said Craig Scharton, interim CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

“The idea is to stage downtown so when people see it, they’ll say, ‘Oh, now I see what they’re trying to do,’” he said. “They’re still vacant spaces technically, but you can see the kinds of businesses you can have filling those spaces.”

More than a dozen “pop-up” stores and restaurants will take over storefronts on Fulton. The eclectic mix includes an assassin-themed food court with a throwing-star range, a jazz club serving cocktails and a cider bar that plans to open permanently on the street.

There are 18 vacant storefronts on Fulton. Scharton notes that big retailers from the 1960s will likely never return to downtown – Woolworth’s, Montgomery Ward and Gottschalks stores have closed everywhere, after all.

Instead, people working to revitalize downtown envision boutiques on the ground floor of Fulton Street’s highrises, and a broader dining and entertainment district.

Fulton’s fountains and sculptures have already been restored and returned to the street.

Restoration of Fulton Street sculptures reveals a treasure of California public art

Parking will be free Saturday at all four public garages and meters downtown. A map of garages is here.

The celebration starts at 3 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at Fulton Street and Mariposa Mall. Mayor Lee Brand and others will speak, then get into cars for an inaugural drive down Fulton Street.

Participants in “Draggin’ The Main,” a classic and custom car show, will cruise Fulton Street from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A full schedule of events Saturday is available here.

Pop-up restaurants

Most temporary stores and restaurants will be open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Here is what visitors will find:

Fulton & Vine, 944 Fulton St. The Vineyard Restaurant and Bar, a Madera fine-dining restaurant, will serve food and drinks.

Bazaar Boheme, 966 Fulton St. This pop-up store is a mini mall of boutiques, with makers and artists selling their goods inside the T.W. Patterson building. Mobile boutiques Dear Danger and Believe will be there, along with people selling makeup and Fresno-themed souvenirs.

Lil’ Bourbon Street jazz club, 966 Fulton St., on the T.W. Patterson building’s mezzanine. Several jazz musicians will play throughout the day at this pop up club. Cajun food and craft cocktails will be available. $10 cover charge starting at 5 p.m.

Fresno Ideaworks, 1018 Fulton St. The creative people at Ideaworks will have live music and cocktails, beer and wine.

Handmade beer mugs and wine glasses will be for sale, along with other handcrafted items. It will also host a demonstration of wood turning on a lathe and a “nerdy derby” where visitors can build and race a car.

Fulton Street Coffee Roasters, 1030 Fulton St. This roastery will eventually have a permanent location at this spot. When it’s up and running, it will roast coffee and sell it through a subscription service, sell coffee to coffee shops, and eventually open a cafe of its own.

Saturday, the company will sell cups of coffee, including pour-over coffees and espresso. Five varieties of its bagged coffee will also be available, along with coffee grinders and other equipment. T-shirts from downtown store Root General will also be for sale.

Hella Ninja, 1036 Fulton St. People can throw rubber and plastic throwing stars at targets on a foam wall with help from Aikido of Fresno. Ninja art will be displayed and Central Fish Market will set up a daiso (a Japanese dollar store).

A bar will sell beer made from rice and flavored sakis. Ninja-themed food will be available, including CHARburger’s ninja umami burger, The Smokin’ Burrito’s ninja star wontons, and nunchuck churros.

Hella Ninja is the brainchild of Sam Hansen, of the Fresno Grizzlies who hosted a one-day, Tupac-themed Powamekka Cafe on the mall in April.

Craftapalooza, 1119 Fulton St. This collection of 19 vendors will sell handmade soaps, jewelry and other items. Big Brother Fresno will provide music.

The Fresno Art Museum, 1121 Fulton St. will showcase art and serve wine.

Wine bar, 1123 Fulton St. Moravia Winery, Ziveli Winery and Kings River Winery will be serving wine.

Raphio Chocolate, 1236 Fulton St. The local chocolate maker will be serving its chocolates.

Lanna Coffee, 1236 Fulton St. The coffee company that is already based downtown will be selling its coffee.

Creative Fresno, 1240 Fulton St. This group will have a Fresno-themed art gallery with paintings, photos and sculptures of things in Fresno.

Creative Fresno will also host its Creative Faces of Fresno project, which lets people create self-portraits using stamps.

D’s House of Coffee & Cider, 1242 Fulton St. This one is a preview of what’s to come. The coffee house and hard cider bar will open a permanent business on Fulton Street in the spring. Desirae Washington, whose family owns Take 3 Burgers a few doors down, is launching the new business.

The pop-up will sell flights of cider for sampling, a Moscow mule made with ginger cider, and a strawberry cider drink with a kick that tastes like Mexican candy. Cold brew coffee will also be available, including an alcoholic version with an Irish cream liqueur.

Bubble Vintage, 1250 Fulton St. All kinds of vintage goods will be for sale.

A food truck pod with eight trucks will be at Fulton Street and Inyo Avenue, near Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.

Beer gardens

At Mariposa Plaza, Tioga-Sequoia will sell glasses of beer and five local wineries will sell wine.

The Taste of the Ale Trail happens from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Kern Plaza, which is between Fulton Street/Homerun Alley and Chukchansi Park.

This is a preview of the breweries and brew pubs that will make up the ale trail downtown once they’re up and running. For $20, you can get 10 tastes from 411 Broadway Ales & Spirits, Full Circle Brewing Co., House Of Pendragon Brewing Co., Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. and Zack’s Brewing Company.

Tickets are available at the event.

Live music

Three stages will host live music starting at 4 p.m., along with performances at Take 3 Burgers, Warnors Center for Performing Arts and the temporary jazz club in the T.W. Patterson building.

A long list of local bands is playing. For names and times, see DowntownFresno.org.

The Mariposa stage is next to the Pacific Southwest Building at Fulton and Mariposa streets. The Merced stage is on Merced Street between Federal Alley and Fulton Street. And the Kern stage is on Kern Plaza, between Fulton Street and Homerun Alley and Chukchansi Park.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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