Bethany Clough

This cocktail bar and four other businesses just got closer to opening in downtown Fresno

Modernist craft cocktail bar just got a big boost in its plans to open in downtown Fresno – along with four other businesses.

The bar is the winner of the Create Here 2019 Business Plan Competition. It’s a contest that was created by the Downtown Fresno Partnership, with the winner announced Tuesday morning.

The announcement was made at the site that Modernist has already leased for its bar, at 719 Fulton St. It’s the building with the mural and the giant words “Brewery District” painted on the side.

As the grand prize winner, Modernist owners Carmen Serrato and Po Tsai get all kinds of help in opening, including $10,000 cash and donated services from local businesses like advertising and public relations.

In all, five businesses were honored. Second-place winners are a speakeasy that’s in development called McQueens End of the Line and maker space Mas Fresno (which is already working on opening a location facing the Mariposa Plaza near Fulton Street).

Third-place winners are Cafe Alchemy, a planned coffee shop with a cultural experience, and DressHer, a future organic and natural clothing store.

Together, the five winners receive nearly $50,000 in cash and other prizes, funded by the Downtown Fresno Foundation, which received a grant from the Central Valley Community Foundation and JP Morgan Chase.

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

The nine 2019 finalists were announced in August, chosen by a committee of downtown Fresno business owners, property owners and financial institutions.

Modernist’s owners hope to start work inside the building this week and are aiming for a winter opening. They say they will keep the building’s brick wall but bring a modern vibe to the rest of the space.

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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.