Bethany Clough

Do you remember this roadhouse-style restaurant and bar in Fresno? It’s been torn down

A former Fresno barbecue spot will soon be torn down

Vacant for the past 10 years, there are no plans as of yet for a replacement for the building that formerly housed Porky's Rib House near First and Barstow.
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Vacant for the past 10 years, there are no plans as of yet for a replacement for the building that formerly housed Porky's Rib House near First and Barstow.

Update: As of Wednesday afternoon, Porky’s had been torn down.

Porky’s Rib House is nothing but a memory.

The building that once housed the restaurant and bar known for its motorcycle nights, blues and “bladder-busting Wednesdays” was torn down this week.

Near the corner of Barstow Avenue and First Street in Fresno, the building had been empty for about 10 years, said Stan Fiorentino, property manager for the Headliner Shopping Center.

“We don’t at this point in time have any plans for it,” he said of the spot. “We will be marketing it as a potential build-to-suit situation.”

The building was run down and surrounded by chain link fence.

“It’s an obsolete building from a functional standpoint,” especially when it comes to the electrical, plumbing and other systems, Fiorentino said.

It’s not clear how old the building is, but the shopping center started going up around 1968 and into the early 1970s, Fiorentino said. The center was originally started as a partnership of brothers in the Wathen family, and remains in the same family, Fiorentino said.

Woody’s, Fresno Feed & Fuel

The building has a colorful history.

Porky’s was known for its “pork and beef ribs slathered in gooey sauce,” according to a 1999 Fresno Bee story. It was also a home for blues lovers, who filled the place every Thursday to hear live music.

But it was also known for some less flattering reasons. Porky’s was evicted in 2006 after a seven-year run full of problems with the police.

A Fresno Bee story at the time said police had dealt with everything from underage drinking, loud music, complaints about motorcycle noise – even a call for bushes on fire. The business also had its liquor license suspended temporarily, issues with a dance permit and was sued for copyright infringement for not paying royalties for music it played.

The building once also housed Woody’s Roadhouse, Fresno Feed & Fuel, Gandoffs and Prime Rib.

Fresno Feed & Fuel was known for its “turkey nuts” appetizer, which apparently is exactly what you’re thinking it is.

A restaurant review by The Bee’s Woody Laughnan in 1978 said it sold a 24-ounce “cowpuncher porterhouse” steak for $10.95. It also referenced barrels of peanuts that customers would shuck, eat and throw the shells on the floor.

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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.
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