While it seemed like all of Fresno was focused on Livingstone’s reopening last month, there were quite a few other changes happening in the Tower District.
Now, two more new restaurants are open, along with the former Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred. More businesses are on the way. There’s even an update on Landmark, the Tower District icon that’s been closed for nearly two years.
But we do have to warn you. New businesses in general and for some reason the Tower District in particular can take time to happen. Like slow as a snail with a hangover kind of time. All those permits, inspections and liquor license applications, along with construction, can slow down even the most enthusiastic business owner.
So that’s why we’ve organized this story by when we think the businesses will open. They range from those open now to others that will take months (maybe even lots of months) to open.
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Full Circle Olympic is the name of the newly opened tap room in the Tower District by Full Circle Brewing Company. The name pays homage to the tap room’s location at 1426 N. Van Ness Ave. in the building that once housed Audie’s Olympic Tavern until it closed in 2016.
Before that it had operated as Club Fred and before that as the Oly. Inside, the space has been cleaned, painted and remodeled. There still will be live music from the venue’s stage, though they removed the blue shag carpet that made Audie’s famous.
Full Circle Olympic will be an extension of the brewery’s downtown operations, with up to 13 taps of Full Circle’s signature beers (Juicy NE IPA and Cluster Fuggle Cream Ale to name two) plus specialty brews. There will also be to-go service for cans and growlers.
Though it’s already hosted several events, including a New Year’s Eve party, the space began its normal business hours Monday and hosts a grand opening party at 6 p.m. Jan. 25.
It will be open from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The restaurant combines Persian, Italian and American flavors and serves pizza, pasta, salads and nonalcoholic “mocktails.”
“It’s unlike any pizza you’ve had before,” said general manager Donald Fritz. “It uses secret Persian sauces that are yellow and green and when mixed together make a completely different-tasting pizza.”
The pizzas are all rectangular flatbread pizza, and Fritz recommends the steak pizza, served with chopped slices of tri-tip on top.
You can also find sambusas (a deep-fried triangular appetizer stuffed with meat or veggie filling), soup and Turkish coffee on the menu.
The flavors come from Homa Nikokhorsand, who grew up in Iran and whose family urged her to open a restaurant because they loved her cooking. You can spot bits of Iranian influence in the remodeled space. Plus, the name Imperial is a reference to a ruler in Iran decades ago.
Imperial Pizzazz has a bar, with lights that change colors, though it does not have a liquor license for a full bar. Instead, it’s serving nonalcoholic versions of cocktails, like a “nomosa.”
For now, it’s open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from noon to 11 p.m. Sundays. It will eventually expand to offer lunch. Parking is behind the building.
Tower Blendz took over in October, and now offers acai and other bowls, smoothies and salads, all of which are customizable.
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) bowls are an increasingly popular option that start with a base of sorbet made from acai berries. You then add fruit like strawberries and bananas. Blendz goes a step further than other acai places and offers toppings touted for their various health benefits, like goji berries (red berries touted for their vitamins) and hemp seeds.
The smoothies are similar to the bowls, but blended into drinkable form. You’ll also find customizable salads, coffee drinks and a few flavors of ice cream.
A grand opening is scheduled for Jan. 19.
One interesting tidbit: The business holds story time for kids at 11 a.m. on Saturdays, followed by an arts and crafts session with parents. There’s also open mic nights at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Owner Antony Ayodele, who also owns the cell phone store a few doors down, said he wants to bring more of a family-friendly atmosphere to Tower.
Tower Blendz is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.
Deli Delicious in the Tower District isn’t that new, but it did recently expand its hours to cater to the late-night crowd. It is now open until midnight on Thursdays and open until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
India’s Oven restaurant at the corner of Olive Avenue and Fulton Street could open within about three weeks, said Sunny Sehgal, who owns the restaurant with his father.
The restaurant has remodeled what used to be the former Million Elephant, including its tiny bathrooms, and is in the final inspection stage.
When it’s open, it will have a menu that’s similar to its existing restaurant at Marks and Ashlan avenues, but a little more condensed.
India’s Oven will be open for lunch and dinner. It will have a full bar and be open late, until 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
It’s taking over the former Happy Star restaurant at 1120 N. Palm Ave., just south of Olive Avenue. It will have a slimmed-down version of the north Fresno location’s menu, featuring dumplings, pot stickers and noodles. (Though it’s not clear yet if it will sell the Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings that take all day to make.)
The Landmark will reopen eventually, its owner said via email last week. At 644 E. Olive Ave., it was bought by a new owner in 2015, and has been closed for well over a year. Signs for Splash nightclub on the windows reference a summer opening, referring to a previous summer.
Owner T.J. Bruce, who owns gay nightclub Splash Video Dance Bar in San Jose, started work inside Landmark after he bought it. But the project was sidetracked for some personal reasons with various permits expiring. He has since reactivated those permits and is again working on the project.
“Hopefully (we’ll) open SPLASH this summer some time,” he said in the email.
The Painted Table is the catering company operating out of the space next to Tower Theatre. In a couple of months, it will have a restaurant that’s open to the public, too.
The bar and the area to the right of the front door will become a bistro open Wednesdays through Saturdays with the rest of the space still available to rent for special events.
Details are still being worked out, but the restaurant will be French-inspired with small plates, white marble bistro tables and a quiet atmosphere (basically, imagine what a chef who loves Paris and butter would do).
There will be pot roast available, too, the same famous recipe that the former Daily Planet restaurant used to sell in that same spot, says owner Jeromie Hansen.
“We’re going to leave the naked ladies,” he said, a reference to the mural over the bar that’s been there for years.
A name is still in the works.
Said Andy Karsh, who still runs Karsh’s Catering out of the kitchen: “We want to be the neighborhood bar. … We’re not playing loud music. It’s a place to come enjoy your friends and get a drink and enjoy some food.”
The name The Lincoln is a reference to the $5 bill (he’s on it) and the affordable theme Karsh is going for. There will be food and drink specials each day for $5.
The change from Zen Wok, a restaurant with a bar, to The Lincoln, a bar that serves food, is deliberate. The two businesses will have different liquor licenses and with a bar, the owner doesn’t have to worry about making sure a certain percentage of sales comes from food.
But that means they need to switch to a different type of liquor license and all the posting of applications, notifications and vetting that comes with it. That change could take up to 60 days.
The former La Arepa, the Venezuelan restaurant at 601 E. Olive Ave., closed in November. But a new tenant has already signed a lease for the space, according to the retail broker handling its lease. The new tenant did not immediately return a message from The Bee, but we will keep you updated.