Bethany Clough

Nine would-be businesses are competing to open in downtown Fresno. Which do you like?

Gastropub HoP PK was part of the Create Here Business Plan Competition

Downtown Fresno's HoP PK restaurant, which opened in November 2017, serves local beer from locally owned House of Pendragon, along with a full menu of food.
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Downtown Fresno's HoP PK restaurant, which opened in November 2017, serves local beer from locally owned House of Pendragon, along with a full menu of food.

From a Cuban cafe to a cider bar, several would-be businesses have their eye on opening a location downtown in Fresno.

They’re part of the Create Here 2019 Business Plan Competition. It’s a contest that was created by the Downtown Fresno Partnership in 2015.

The winner gets all kinds of help in opening its business, including $25,000 in cash and $23,000 in donated services, including help finding loans and leasing a location.

Several businesses that have gone through the competition in years past are alive and thriving, including gastropub HoP PK, Root General store and raw food and vegan business Raw Fresno.

The 2019 finalists were announced Tuesday. A couple of them are established businesses looking to do something new downtown, but most are businesses people are hoping to create.

The finalists are working with a committee of judges to improve their business plans. A winner will be selected in September.

Here are the finalists.

Downtown Deli & Market: Local deli and market that would target the lunch crowd with hot and cold sandwiches, along with other side dishes. This business will provide a new take-out/dine-in deli establishment within downtown.

DressHer: A store that would carry organic/recycled clothing, focused on women and mothers. Giving women the idea of a walk-in dresser when they visit, connecting all women and mothers.

Havana Café: A Cuban restaurant, Havana Café would provide high quality Cuban espresso, sandwiches, dishes, pastries and soft drinks.

MAS Fresno: This would be a retail attraction and design center that will be new to Fresno and new to fashion. MAS Fresno will provide custom high-end quality garments, as well as a maker-space for people looking to create, grow and sell their own clothing brand.

McQueens End of the Line: This bar/speakeasy/outdoor event venue would open in a 100-year-old house in downtown Fresno. The business would serve an eclectic mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and regularly host live music shows and parties.

Meltdown Bistro: This business started as a food truck in 2015 and is looking to expand to a brick-and-mortar location. Meltdown Bistro serves America Fusion food with sandwich melts.

Modernist: This is a craft cocktail bar envisioning bringing people together in downtown Fresno. Modernist has signed a lease for a location on Fulton Street in the brewery district.

The Bad Apple: This business would serve hard cider, as well as low- to mid-range priced wines to customers. The products would ideally be from cider and wine companies from the central San Joaquin Valley.

Café Alchemy: This would be a coffee house and social enterprise that brings together an immersive, cultural and educational coffee experience. The physical space would be designed for learning, and the staff will be required to undergo rigorous and comprehensive training on the quality and origin of the coffee.

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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