Uncle Harry's closes its Fig Garden bagelry doors for good
It’s been an extraordinary year for stores and restaurants – extraordinarily bad.
It’s clear now that 2017 was the year of closures.
Nationwide, retailers have announced plans to close more than 6,700 stores, a record that tops closures at the height of the recession. The Fresno area saw dozens of closures of both stores and restaurants.
Big chain stores filed for bankruptcy and closed locations. Fresno lost its share of mom-and-pop restaurants, along with some familiar chain favorites.
The reasons behind it all vary. A big driver of the “retail apocalypse,” as some have called it, is shoppers increasingly buying online. The result is too many physical stores with not enough shoppers in them.
Restaurants also faced a tough year, with some casual-dining chains being squeezed the hardest. Some of the mom-and-pop closures are part of the normal ebb and flow of openings and closings that happen every year.
While it’s impossible to keep track of every store and restaurant that closed here in 2017, here are the ones we know about:
1. Ann Taylor closed its sole location in the central San Joaquin Valley at River Park in January.
4. BJ’s Kountry Kitchen. The Clovis location at Shaw and Villa avenues has closed and is being taken over by a Triangle Burgers Drive In. The three other BJ’s Kountry Kitchens have different owners and remain open.
5. Bear Creek Gifts. This Old Town Clovis store selling anything you would want in a cabin – including lots of bear and wolf decor – closed after 19 years. It didn’t fail; owners Larry and Pat Grossi, both in their 70s, just wanted to slow down.
6. Bebe. The upscale clothing store closed its Fashion Fair location in April. It later closed all 160-plus stores in the United States and Canada.
7. Cafe Via. The locally owned restaurant, known for its coconut cake, on Blackstone Avenue south of Herndon Avenue closed for several reasons after five years.
8. Castillo’s Mexican Restaurant. With a name that’s iconic around these parts, the Tower District location of Castillo’s closed for good this year. The owner said crime was a reason why, but police cast doubt on that.
9. Craft Beer Wine Bistro. This craft beer and wine spot in north Fresno closed in September. The owners did not say why, but a sale listing for the business revealed the rent was $5,794.52 per month.
10. CVS. The drug store chain shut down stores in Visalia and Madera as part of of a cost-cutting plan that shuttered 70 stores this year.
12. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. The Valley still has several Dickey’s locations, but one in Porterville and another at the new development at Friant Road near Fresno Street have closed.
14. Family Christian Stores. The retailer closed all 240 stores, including the Fresno location at Shaw and Marks avenues.
15. Goodfellas Italian Cuisine. The restaurant at the Galleria at Civic Center Square in downtown Fresno has closed, but a new restaurant plans to move in.
16. Guadalajara. The Fort Washington location of Guadalajara closed quietly a while ago and has been replaced with Fort Blossom Cafe. But fear not – the Weber Avenue Guadalajara and the taqueria on Ashlan Avenue are still going strong.
17. Griddle Me This. The restaurant serving waffle sandwiches, desserts and beer next to Red Robin on North Blackstone Avenue closed in May. Its owners said Fresno wasn’t ready for this type of restaurant, though a new local waffle truck says otherwise.
18. JCPenney Home Store. The River Park store closed over the summer, though the second floor of the Fashion Fair store is carrying appliances, kitchen items and more.
20. Kmart. The struggling retailer owned by Sears Holdings closed stores in Coalinga and Kingsburg.
21. Kodiak Mountain Coffee. The little coffee drive-thru at Barstow Avenue and First Street didn’t last long. It opened in late August and closed in mid-October.
22. Las Cazuelas. This Mexican restaurant on Blackstone Avenue just south of Shields Avenue closed quietly this year.
23. Marie Callender’s. The West Shaw Avenue location’s closure caused a stir in September, though its two other Fresno restaurants are open.
24. Mia Cuppa Caffe. The Tower District coffee shop closed, but reopened with new owners and is now The Revue. It’s a name the coffee shop had in the past, but this version is run by the owners of Ampersand Ice Cream and Lanna Coffee Co.
25. Mother Mary’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria. After Leonard “Len” Ruggiero died in 2016, his children tried to keep the restaurant alive, but couldn’t.
26. Old Hotel Bistro. The restaurant with a Creole twist at the historic hotel in Old Town Clovis has closed. It’s in the process of becoming 356 Tavern, a venture spearheaded by the people behind 559 Local beer. The tavern will house several local businesses, including Roll Me Some rolled ice cream and a fast-casual restaurant by the chef from Trelio restaurant.
27. The Orange Store. With racks of its fruit out front, the store at the corner of Shaw and Maroa avenues closed earlier this year. The cost of fruit and rent was too high, the owner said.
28. Payless Shoesource. The giant discounter filed for bankruptcy and has closed at least eight stores from Merced to Hanford.
30. Rite Aid at 1155 Shaw Ave. near FoodMaxx in Clovis closed.
31. Rue 21. The trendy teen retailer closed stores in Hanford and Clovis, two of 400 stores that closed nationwide.
33. Tang Yuan. The upscale Chinese seafood restaurant at Palm and Bullard avenues closed earlier this year. It had nine tanks holding live seafood, an 155-inch TV and an automatic mahjong table, but couldn’t seem to keep the doors open.
34. Teavana. The Fashion Fair store that sells tea and tea pots will close Dec. 31. The stores were “persistently underperforming” and Teavana’s owner, Starbucks, plans to close all 379 stores by spring.
35. Teazer World Tea Market. The tea shop closed its downtown Fresno location in the Galleria at Civic Center Square in late May. The other three Teazer shops remain open and were carrying the downtown location.
36. Tomo’s Japanese Restaurant. This restaurant moved from First Street and Bullard Avenue to Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue, but closed earlier this year. The restaurant is supposed to open a new location in Manchester Center’s future food court.
37. Uncle Harry’s. Of all the closures in 2017, the loss of the Fig Garden Village Uncle Harry’s after 18 years probably inspired the biggest outcry from the public. Its owners said the new landlord wanted a national tenant, though that was not confirmed.
38. Valentino’s. The Tower District mainstay closed after 33 years of selling retro dresses and Dr. Martens shoes. The owners retired.
39. Valley Novelty. The 63-year-old downtown store selling costumes, wigs and party decor closed early in 2017. With dollar stores and Party City stores, Valley Novelty simply couldn’t compete, the owner said.
40. Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy and closed all its more than 170 stores, including five in the Valley from the Merced Mall to Hanford Mall. (Its two plus-size stores, Wet Seal + in Clovis and Visalia, closed well before 2015.)