Walk or drive through Old Town Clovis and you can’t help but notice the new three-story buildings on Pollasky Avenue.
But that’s not the only action happening in Old Town.
A flurry of other changes are underway. Several new places to eat are in the works, boutiques are moving and expanding, dueling ice cream shops are opening and Trelio has a new restaurant in the works.
What’s driving these changes? For starters, there’s a younger demographic shopping and living in Clovis. And social media posts are bringing people into boutiques and antique shops.
“All of this has formed a perfect storm,” said Shawn Miller, business development manager for the city of Clovis. “We couldn’t have planned all this.”
But the construction of Clovis Centennial Plaza at Pollasky and Bullard avenues and the tall buildings on either side was definitely planned with a vision of growth in mind.
“That opened up a really awesome opportunity to bring business south of Fifth Street,” Miller said. “The footprint of Old Town is truly expanding.”
The neighborhood has been dubbed “SoFi,” (pronounced “so-fye”), as in “south of Fifth Street.” Banners declare the new name and officials hope it will bring people and businesses to the southern edge of Old Town.
Here’s what’s happening.
1. Blast & Brew
A new and different locally owned pizza place is headed for 601 Pollasky Ave. That’s the Petersen building, still under construction on south side of Centennial Plaza.
Blast & Brew is a restaurant concept created by the same company that owns Me-n-Ed’s and is mash up of several of its restaurants. Technically a franchise, it’s owned by four Clovis families and scheduled to open in mid- to late November.
It’s a sit-down restaurant where guests place their orders with waiters or waitresses. Customers can order from a selection of 11-inch personal pizzas or buy a build-your-own.
The menu includes appetizers – cowboy chili, for example – along with sandwiches and salads.
And then there’s the beer. The restaurant will have 38 self-pour taps, similar to its Me-N-Ed’s On Tap restaurants. Here, diners use a card that communicates with the taps and tallies up how much is poured, with customers paying before they leave.
2. The Foundry
The Foundry Collective, currently on Fifth Street, sells an eclectic collection of clothing, jewelry, handmade goods and home products. When it moves to 601, it will nearly double in size and shorten its name to The Foundry.
The extra space means the store will carry more rugs and furniture from Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show.
The store is scheduled to open later this month.
3. 356 Tavern
Old Hotel Bistro restaurant with a Creole twist at the historic hotel in Old Town has closed, but it’s soon to be home to several new businesses. The 356 Tavern is expected to open this month, housing a bar, restaurant, bakery and ice cream shop.
The people behind 559 Local beer (who have moved out of their tasting room on Fourth Street) are bringing several companies under one roof at the hotel. The bar and restaurant will serve 559 beer, along with other brands of beer and wine.
The fast-casual restaurant will be led by executive chef Chris Shakelford from Trelio restaurant. Trelio isn’t going anywhere, and the restaurant at the hotel will be quite different. But Shakelford said the restaurant will have “the same thread of quality and sense of location.”
The bakery will be local start-up Candied Creations and the location will be available for baby showers and other special events.
4. Roll Me Some
As for the ice cream shop inside the hotel, that’s Roll Me Some Artisanal Ice Cream. The locally owned business makes ice cream right in front of you, rolling the cream and bits of cookies as they freeze on an ice-cold metal slab. It opened Saturday.
The friends who run the business have been selling their ice cream at events around town, but this will be a permanent location for them.
They had originally planned to open in Iron Bird Lofts. They’re still considering a downtown Fresno location, but the Clovis spot will open first.
Roll Me Some is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
5. Two Cities Coffee Roasters - Rolled Ice Creamery
But that’s not the only rolled ice cream place opening in Old Town. Less than a 200-foot walk away is Two Cities Coffee Roasters - Rolled Ice Creamery.
You may have seen their mobile cart at events around town. Its permanent location is scheduled to open this month at 608 Fourth St. – the brick building 559 Local occupied until recently.
Two Cities will serve rolled ice cream, including a latte-inspired ice cream. But it also roasts its own coffee and will serve all types of caffeinated drinks, including lattes. Tea and nondairy sorbet also are on the menu.
The owner has revamped a patio in the back for customers to use.
6. House of JuJu
This restaurant has been bursting at the seams since it opened on Pollasky Avenue in the Dewitt building. House of JuJu will double in size when it moves to its new location around late November.
The restaurant will take over part of the ground floor of the newly built Realty Concepts building. That’s the other new building at Pollasky and Bullard avenues, this one already prepped with black awnings featuring the House of JuJu name.
“Hopefully it won’t feel double in size, but it will be able to accommodate double the people,” owner Julie Glenn said. “The whole idea is that people feel very comfortable and welcome.”
Another change: More seafood will be on the menu. Extra space – and perhaps the influence of the Morro Bay House of JuJu the family also owns – means you can expect fish tacos and clam chowder at the new place, Glenn said.
JuJu, by the way, is a reference to Glenn. It’s what her grandbabies call her, she said.
7. Papa’s Place
House of JuJu is moving, but there already are plans for a restaurant to take its place at 453 Pollasky Ave. The Glenn family plans to open Papa’s Place restaurant.
Papa is what their grandkids call Scott Glenn, Julie’s husband.
The restaurant will have an old-fashioned, speakeasy feel with seafood and small plates of comfort food. The menu is still being worked out, but will include unique fried food, like possibly a deep-fried meatball.
“We do plan to have an amazing fish and chips,” Julie Glenn added.
Papa’s Place will have a full bar and serve craft cocktails using seasonal fruit from the Clovis farmers market.
8. Viva Boutique
Old Town got a new place to shop when Viva Boutique opened in August, selling clothing, accessories and jewelery. The little shop is at 453 Pollasky Ave., suite 107, in the breezeway next to House of JuJu.
Inside you’ll find “Surviving on grace & coffee” T-shirts and other casual and dressy clothing, along with Kate Spade sunglasses and Swarovski jewelry.
The shop used to be called Viva La Vault, selling jewelry and accessories, and was a sister store to The Vault Fine Jewelers in Fig Garden Village. Moreno bought it in 2013 and has run it ever since. Earlier this year, she and the landlord couldn’t come to an agreement on rent so she moved the store to Clovis.
The move brought clothing to the store for the first time, but it kept some of the popular lines of jewelry it sold in Fig Garden.
9. Revival 23
This clothing and gift store just moved out of the space Viva Boutique now occupies. Revival 23 tripled its space when it moved to 416 Pollasky Ave., taking over a former art gallery near On The Edge coffee shop.
The extra room has allowed the store to carry more Kut from the Kloth jeans, from “toothpick skinnies” to boyfriend jeans.
In its first few days of being on Old Town’s main drag, Revival 23 got dozens of new customers who had never heard of the shop before. The increase in customers led to hiring two new employees.
10. The Urban Umbrella
A little over a year old, The Urban Umbrella moved in September from its Fourth Street spot to new digs near Viva Boutique. Also in the breezeway of the Dewitt building on Pollasky, it’s in suite 102.
Technically the space is smaller, but owner Amy Cortell is expanding the business in other ways.
The shop is hosting more classes, like “modern calligraphy” and how to decorate cakes with flowers.
“We’re collaborating with a lot more small business owners,” she said.
For example, a local candle maker produces candles under The Urban Umbrella name. Its clothing selection is expanding, including items from Fresno-based Made for Them. The nonprofit’s income goes toward combating human trafficking.
11. ABC Pack & Print
In Urban Umbrella’s old space at 519 Fourth St., a printing, shipping and office supply shop opened recently.
On the shelves are colorful envelopes and other stationery, pens topped with googly-eyed squirrels and 3-D greeting cards. The shop also carries basic packing and shipping supplies. ABC has photo machines and printers that can can pump out pictures from cellphones, up to a 3-foot by 4-foot image.
ABC Pack & Print also has post office boxes.
The shop means many people won’t have to leave Old Town to do business, said Martin Hinshaw, whose wife, Terri Hinshaw, runs ABC Pack & Print. Martin will continue to run A1 Lock & Key next door.
12. Smoke N Spurs
A restaurant specializing in smoked meats, Smoke N Spurs, took over the former Corner Cafe at Pollasky Avenue and Fourth Street in June.
They wheeled a smoker inside the restaurant to smoke brisket, pulled pork, tri-tip and chicken in sandwiches or plates of slices. Hamburgers made with Harris Ranch beef, hot dogs and salads are on the menu, too.
“I smoke all my meats with local peach wood,” owner Kimberly Nunez said.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It’s open on weekends during special events in Old Town.