Bethany Clough

Downtown restaurant update: A coffee shop adds food, chef, and Mabel’s lands new home

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A little coffee shop in downtown Fresno is changing things up.

Existing coffee shop USBean, inside a Bitwise building, has added a cafe serving breakfast and “linner,” that creatively named combination of lunch and dinner. And its previous neighbor, Mabel’s Kitchen, has moved out and is planning to reopen in a new spot in northwest Fresno. More on that in the moment.

USBean is the coffee shop on the ground floor of Bitwise South Stadium, the technology hub at 700 Van Ness Ave. It underwent some minor renovations recently, mostly removing the wall between the coffee side and what used to be Mabel’s.

Now it’s got a new menu and a new chef. You can get everything from avocado toast with cage-free eggs and locally grown microgreens, to a cheeseburger with house-made ketchup.

The food portion of the business is dubbed Break Bread, and operates inside USBean. The cafe has hired executive chef Robert Ortiz III, a Fresno native who used to be the chef at the Kopje Lodge restaurant inside Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Break Bread is a casual, order-at-the-counter type of place. But it’s not your typical downtown Fresno sandwich shop.

Breakfast is served all day, from a cheesy toad in the hole (over easy eggs on toast with cheese and bacon) to a bagel with chive cream cheese and bacon.

There’s also sandwiches and salads.

The “Bronx tale” sandwich, comes with salami, pepperoni, capocollo ham, marinated tomato, and provolone.

Break Bread tries to use local ingredients, said Ortiz. The bread comes from downtown-based Basque French Bakery, for example. The microgreens are locally grown by Serratos Garden.

“We’re still perfecting sourcing local,” he said. “We want to stay in the Valley as much as possible.”

He and manager Liz Fernando (who you may remember from former coffee shop Brew Fix downtown) are planning to get a liquor license so they can serve local wines and beer.

For now, hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays for brunch.

And of course, the coffee side of USBean is continuing as normal, serving coffee and espresso-based drinks like a honey cinnamon latte. The coffee shop is also serving some baked goods from Visalia-based The Cafe Keto (a reference to the low carb, high fat keto diet).

Bitwise/Valparaiso

There’s been a lot of changes at this spot at Van Ness Avenue and Mono Street in recent months, so let’s recap.

USBean is in the spot once occupied by Valparaiso Cafe & Roastery, which moved to a new home at 744 P. St.

Valparaiso has added some new food options too, including sandwiches. The menu features a beef dip sandwich with au jus, a hot pastrami sandwich and the popular spicy max, which has turkey, bacon, pepper jack cheese, spicy mayo and jalapeños.

Mabel’s Kitchen

Mabel’s, the panini spot that baked its own bread, used to be where Break Bread is today. Mabel’s lease expired and it closed.

Owner Susan Valiant has signed a lease to move Mabel’s into part of Jack’s Car Wash at Herndon and West avenues, though it’s not open yet.

The busy car wash has a kitchen and five tables that Mabel’s will take over that are about the same size as the downtown location. Rare Earth Coffee and a boutique used to be located in that Jack’s spot, though they’re both gone.

Valiant is aiming for an Oct. 1 opening, though she said she is waiting on the City of Fresno about a permit related to the kitchen.

Once Mabel’s is up and running, it will carry most of the items it did downtown. That includes paninis with housemade challah bread, cinnamon rolls and maple and banana challah rolls.

Details are still being worked out, but the shop will likely be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.
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