Fresno, Clovis restaurant scene: Who’s coming in, who’s leaving?
Restaurants come and go.
It’s part of the normal churn of the restaurant scene, particularly among locally owned eateries.
At least three places to eat have closed quietly in recent months across Fresno and Clovis – but not for long. All three have replacements that are already gearing up to open in the empty spaces.
You may recognize a few of these newcomers.
Thai to Vietnamese
Keothip Modern Thai Cuisine, at 3757 W. Shaw Ave. near Brawley Avenue, has closed. The sign is gone and it looks empty, but check out its brand new awnings: They say Huong Lan.
Huong Lan is a locally owned Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in pho, the popular noodle soup, and banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwiches.
It has a bustling location at 4965 N. Fresno St., near CVS and Fashion Fair mall. It opened a second location in 2014 at 5669 E. Kings Canyon Road, next to FoodMaxx at Clovis Avenue. Huong Lan Owner Jake Lam said they wanted a third location to serve the western part of the city.
They are fixing up the place on West Shaw and plan to open in late March (though opening times can easily get delayed in the restaurant business), he said.
The owners of Keothip are still around, however – and so is most of the staff, Lam said.
“Keothip, they didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said. “Now they help, working with us. We’re just changing the food.”
A little more about Huong Lan’s food: It has an extensive banh mi menu. These are the sandwiches made with French bread and various types of meat.
You’ll find the traditional sandwich made with paté of pork liver and head cheese, which is not cheese at all, but made from pieces of the ear, tongue and nose of a pig’s head. You’ll also find vegetarian and chicken versions of the sandwiches on the menu, too.
And there are several types of pho, made with beef, seafood and other options.
La Parisien to Brioche Lady
One of the three Le Parisien Cafe bakeries in Fresno and Clovis has closed. The location at Herndon Avenue and First Street closed in late February. The other two – one in Clovis and the one at Palm and Nees avenues – will remain open, as all three are separately owned.
The owner of the closed location did not say why it closed, though the person behind the bakery’s Facebook account mentioned having a baby and feeling it was time to move on.
A new owner is preparing to reopen in the spot: The Brioche Lady.
You may have seen Nub Chi Thao selling her brioche, the buttery French bread ideal for French toast, at farmers markets around town. Her purple yam bread was one of three buyers’ choice award winners at the Fresno Food Expo in 2017.
She and her husband had hoped to open at a different location, but that didn’t happen and selling at the farmers markets was put on hold. But now the couple is hoping to open in mid-April.
Thao is from France so the French influence will continue. Expect the business to specialize in brioches, including single-serving sizes in flavors like almond and pistachio. There will be several other spins on traditional brioche, including “briozza,” (brioche pizza) and cold French sandwiches made with brioche bread, along with French waffles, crepes, etc. Coffee and some cakes will also be available.
Carrows to Huckleberry’s
Huckleberry’s has two locations in Fresno. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot, generally open at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The menu features comfort food like chicken fried steak, pancakes and chicken and waffles. The restaurant bills itself as “Southern cookin’ with a California twist,” so you’ll also find beignets (the deep-fried fritters sprinkled with powdered sugar from New Orleans), Cajun omelets and fried green tomatoes on the menu.
The dining room will be majorly remodeled, with an expected opening in late June or early July, according to the franchisee. It could open about the same time the Costco under construction next door opens.
The owners say they are considering opening several new Huckleberry’s locations in Valley cities, stretching from Merced to Bakersfield.