Bethany Clough

These Fresno businesses are closing. But look who’s opening (one is a new Dutch Bros)

These restaurants and stores are saying goodbye to Fresno

Some big-name stores and restaurant closed in Fresno this year, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to big national chains.
Up Next
Some big-name stores and restaurant closed in Fresno this year, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to big national chains.

Do you like food and fun? Subscribe to the Food, Drink & Fun in Fresno newsletter here.

From independent mom-and-pops to big chains, the Fresno area has seen its fair share of closures lately.

The upside?

New restaurants and stores are still gearing up to open here, some in the empty spaces the closures left behind.

Much of this churn of openings and closings is normal. Some store closures are a continuation of the “retail apocalypse” that has big chain brick and mortar retailers suffering and closing stores as they compete with online shopping and face other challenges. Other companies are simply tired brands that are past their prime and not bringing in money like they once used to.

Here’s who’s saying goodbye to the Fresno area and the new stores and restaurants that are planning to open here.

charmingcharlie.jpg
Charming Charlie, the jewelry and accessories store at Fresno’s Fashion Fair mall, closed last weekend. Screenshot from Charming Charlie Fresno’s Instagram

Charming Charlie

The store at Fashion Fair that sold jewelry and accessories organized by color has closed. Its last day was June 22.

Charming Charlie is one of several mall-based stores burdened with tumbling sales for a variety of reasons. The chain filed for bankruptcy in 2017, survived it, and emerged last spring with 100 fewer stores.

The Fresno closure came after that round of closures, however.

An Instagram post by the Fresno store thanked customers for their loyalty and directed them to shop online or at stores in Modesto and Bakersfield.

IMG_8395.jpg
Baja Fresh on North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno has closed. Bethany Clough bclough@fresnobee.com

Baja Fresh

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, 7675 N. Blackstone Ave. near Red Robin, has closed. The restaurant has been emptied out, its signs that say “no lard” and “no msg” now preside over an empty dining room.

When contacted about why the location closed, Baja Fresh customer service representative Leah Fine emailed a statement that said, in part, “The decision to close a store is that of an individual franchisee, who is an independent business owner.”

It went on to say that they “hope to someday open new locations around the area” and that the Baja Fresh at Sierra Vista Mall is still open.

IMG_8479 (1).jpg
Hooters was evicted from its North Blackstone Avenue location in Fresno. Bethany Clough bclough@fresnobee.com

Hooters

Hooters in Fresno is gone. The restaurant known for its chicken wings and its tank tops (and what’s underneath) has been closed since an eviction notice was posted on the door back in April.

There has been a smattering of closures of Hooters nationwide, though there are still hundreds of restaurants operating worldwide. The company has both franchise locations owned by local people and corporate-owned locations.

It’s not clear exactly why the Fresno location didn’t make it.

Customers on restaurant review site Yelp.com reported declining service and food quality. Some national stories blame closures on an aging concept and changing attitudes in the “Me Too” era.

It’s worth nothing, however, that Fresno just gained another business famous for its scantily clad servers – the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery.

Pita Pit

Fresno doesn’t have any Pita Pit locations left. The restaurant on North Blackstone Avenue closed years ago and was replaced with a Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop.

Now the Pita Pit at Willow and Herndon avenues is also closed, though the company still has a handful of restaurants open throughout California.

However, a new restaurant is already gearing up to open in the old space: Taqueria Yarelis. Keep reading to find out more about that restaurant.

Scarab Glass Works

After decades in business, Scarab Glass Works announced it is closing its store on Divisadero Street in a brick building in downtown Fresno.

The store sold supplies for artists and people working in the glass industry and restored stained glass. It also hosted classes in making stained glass and other topics.

A playfully worded message on its Facebook page said, in part, “Scarab Glass Works was the last of the great glasssiosaurs and is soon to become extinct. … We’d like to thank all of the great people that we’ve come in contact with over the past 43 years, we’ve been most fortunate to have had an excellent and friendly clientele. With almost zero bad checks, and giving the heave ho to a mere 3 unruly miscreants, its been a most enjoyable ride!”

IMG_6968.jpg
LifeWay Christian Stores is closing all its brick-and-mortar stores, including the one in Fresno. Bethany Clough bclough@fresnobee.com

Lifeway

This chain of Christian stores is closing all its 170 stores nationwide, and the one in Fresno is gone. It is now an online-only business.

At 5336 N. Blackstone Ave., in the same shopping center as GW School Supply, the store sold Christian supplies. That included things like Bibles, baby and wedding gifts, Christian music, Christian games and church supplies like communion cups.

LifeWay moved to the spot in 2015, after leaving River Park and changing its name from Berean Christian Store to LifeWay.

IMG_8462.jpg
Dressbarn is closing all 650 of its women’s clothing stores, but for now, the stores in Fresno and Clovis are still open. Bethany Clough bclough@fresnobee.com

Dressbarn

The Dressbarn stores in Fresno and Clovis are still open, but the company is planning to close all its 650 locations.

Fresno has a Dressbarn near Target in River Park and Clovis has a store at the Clovis Crossings Shopping Center at Herndon and Clovis avenues. The stores sell women’s clothing.

The company announced back in May that it planned to close all its locations.

“The Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,” Dressbarn chief financial officer Steven Taylor said in a news release.

Just when the local stores will close, however, is still up in the air. The company recently released a list of stores that will close in June and July, though none in the central San Joaquin Valley are on it.

Dressbarn is part of the Ascena Retail Group, which also owns Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, Cacique, Catherines and Justice.

Openings

Though we’ve said goodbye to lots of stores and restaurants, there’s always new ones coming in. If you’re a regular reader of my column, you may remember the recent story about 12 restaurant openings, the arrival of Tilted Kilt and the openings of salad bar restaurants Jugo Salad & Juice Bar and Fresh Bite.

But plenty more places are in the pipeline. Some will open soon. Some are a ways off and haven’t started construction yet.

Here’s what Fresno and Clovis have to look forward to:

Dutch Bros.

Always a favorite in this town, coffee shop drive-thru Dutch Bros. Coffee (which is pronounced “bros,” not brothers) has several locations in the works.

One is at the southeast corner of Herndon and Brawley avenues in Fresno. A lease for a Dutch Bros. location was reported to The Fresno Bee’s leases section back in March. A tiny sign on the corner indicates Dutch Bros. is coming, along with other stores.

This is the same corner that’s home to the Tractor Supply Co.

Don’t get too excited yet, though. Construction hasn’t started and it’s not clear when it will.

Plans for another Dutch Bros. are also in the works at the southwest corner of Herndon and Fowler avenues, next to Vons.

Ramen vs. Pho

Fresno loves its pho, and ramen is starting to take off here, too.

One restaurant named Ramen vs. Pho plans to put both the noodle soups in one place. The restaurant isn’t open yet, though it is shooting for a midsummer opening at 3747 W. Shaw Ave., near Brawley Avenue.

Pho is the Vietnamese soup usually made with beef broth that is very popular in Fresno. Ramen, often made with pork, has its roots in Japan.

Says Ramen vs. Pho’s website: “If you haven’t tried both, how can you know what you love in your bowl!?!”

Follow the restaurant on Instagram to stay updated.

IMG_giant_burrito__1__9_1_03A1DGQS_L276571604 (1)
Edwin Espinoza of Taqueria Yarelis of Fresno holds an Anaconda burrito, which is about 3 feet long when whole. A video of the burrito went viral in 2016. Aleksandra Appleton Fresno Bee file

Taqueria Yarelis

You may remember this little Mexican restaurant in Fresno from the video of its giant burrito that went viral. Back in 2016, the internet was captivated with the Anaconda, a burrito that’s about 3 feet long and weighs more than most newborn babies. The restaurant, at Fresno Street and Belmont Avenue, got 1,000 orders for it in three days.

Now Taqueria Yarelis is opening a second location, this one at the southwest corner of Herndon and Willow avenues, in the former Pita Pit space.

There’s plenty of work yet to be done and the restaurant hasn’t set an opening date yet.

Wonders Ice Cream

Southeast Fresno is getting a rolled ice cream place. A lease for Wonders Ice Cream was finalized back in May for 6127 E. Kings Canyon Road, according to Retail California, which submitted the information to The Bee’s leases section. That’s in the same building as Poke Bowl Express.

Wonders is based in Saint Paul, Minn. Like other rolled ice cream places around Fresno and Clovis, Wonders starts with liquid ingredients and makes the ice cream on an “ice grill,” a metal slab that’s cooled to minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its flavors range from favorites like chocolate and Oreo to Vietnamese coffee, avocado and Thai tea.

The company did not return a message seeking comment about when the shop would open.

Brothers Ramen and Japanese Eatery

A ramen and Japanese food restaurant is in the works for 132 W. Nees Ave., at Blackstone Avenue.

Details are slim, but the restaurant has hired a chef from Tokyo and hopes to open this summer.

IMG_7778.jpg
The former Del Taco on Kings Canyon Road in Fresno will be turned into an Ono Hawaiian BBQ. Bethany Clough bclough@fresnobee.com

Ono Hawaiian BBQ

Remember the Del Taco that opened on East Kings Canyon Road, next to a Steak ’n Shake near Walmart?

Both those restaurants closed, but a new restaurant is planning to take over the former Del Taco space. Ono Hawaiian BBQ has signed a lease for the former Del Taco spot, according to Retail California and Coldwell Banker Commercial, which reported the lease to The Bee’s leases section.

It will be the second Ono Hawaiian BBQ restaurant to open in Fresno. The first is at Park Crossing in north Fresno, in the same shopping center as the new Trader Joe’s near Fresno Street. An opening date has not been set yet.

dd’s DISCOUNTS

The even-lower-cost sibling of Ross Stores, called dd’s DISCOUNTS, is opening a store Saturday. The store will carry clothing for men, women and children, along with household items and shoes.

The store is at 3675 W Shaw Ave., in the former Old Navy near Brawley Avenue, between Kohl’s and Foodsco.

It is dd’s DISCOUNTS 100th store in California.

Bethany Clough: (559) 441-6431, @BethanyClough

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.
  Comments