Bethany Clough

Fresno said goodbye to a favorite restaurant patio. Now the building is being torn down

Fresno already said goodbye to one of the most unique restaurant patios in town when Toledo’s Mexican Restaurant closed its north Fresno location.

Now the building is being torn down.

The restaurant at 7315 N. Blackstone Avenue, probably built in the mid 1950s, was being demolished Thursday. A new 3,000-square-foot strip center building will be built in its place, said Mark Saito, a retail broker who is leasing the future space.

“The building was in such bad shape we could not remodel,” he said.

Toledo’s closed that location in June, but plans to reopen in a building near Cedar and Nees avenues. The restaurant is still in the process of getting its building permit to work on the new location. They expect to open six months after getting it, said Jesse Toledo, part of the family that owns the restaurants.

The Toledo’s at Blackstone and Minarets avenues with the enclosed patio was something of an iconic building in Fresno. The patio was several times the size of the indoor dining room. It had green carpet and full grown trees growing inside, with some of the tables cut to accommodate their trunks.

Several businesses are already interested in renting the new building that will be built on the site. They include a taqueria, coffee shop and others, Saito said.

The new building could fit between one and three businesses.

“We have a lot of interest in the building, we’re just deciding which way we want to go,” he said.

The corner will look quite different when the new building is done. Instead of rebuilding in the same footprint, the new building will be farther back on the lot, closer to the U.S. Post Office, he said.

It will be smaller, which will allow more parking spaces to be added to the site. A lack of parking was one of several reasons given by the Toledos family for the relocation of the restaurant, along with the building’s age.

The full-size trees growing inside the patio will be cut down.

Toledo’s history

The first Toledo’s restaurant started in the building in 1991, opened by Sam and Martha Toledo, Jesse’s parents. Before that it was El Cid, another Mexican restaurant Sam Toledo was involved in (related to the one of the same name in Oakhurst), and before that is was Dos Amigos.

Dos Amigos owners Ike and Shirley Sanchez created the patio in early 1970s, according to their grandson, Lewis Everk, owner of two Jugo Salad & Juice Bar locations and LUXS, a lounge and event space at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue in Fresno.

He remembers his grandfather, a landscaper before becoming a restaurateur, had a knack for creative outdoor spaces.

“Even their home, he would just deck it out with landscaping, covered patios, Tikis, exotic flowers and plants. He just loved to be out in the garden,” he said. “They planted everything that was back there to this day.”

The three other Toledo locations (Fresno Street and Shaw Avenue, and Milburn and Herndon avenues in Fresno and Shaw and Cole avenues in Clovis) will remain open as usual.

The Blackstone building is also full of memories for Jesse Toledo, who thinks of the building as something of a childhood home.

“I knew it was getting demo’d, but it’s bittersweet because when I was a baby, my dad didn’t have a babysitter one time, and he flipped over a bucket and I had to sit there on top of it and watch him cook,” he said.

The same thing happened when Jesse was an adult working at the restaurant and didn’t have a babysitter for this twin daughters.

“I said ‘you know what, I’m going to get some buckets,’ and I flipped them over in the exact same spot,” he said. “I would have loved if that place could have continued its legacy.”

But the building needed too much updating and the family didn’t own it, Toledo said.

The new location will be bigger and have a full bar, but still retain the flavor of patio, he said.

“We’re trying to make it as open and airy like a patio as possible,” he said. “People who have seen the renderings, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, it reminds me of the old patio.”

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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.