Clovis News

Word on the Street: Fresno firm rolls out Italian beer

Glen Margosian, asked by his wholesaler in 2005 to find an Italian beer to import to the United States, sent out e-mails of inquiry to 15 brewers in Italy.

His cyber version of cold calling worked. A company called Alina S.r.l responded -- and the result is a craft-brewed, upscale Italian specialty beer called Oro di Milano (gold of Milan) that Margosian's Bravo Beverage in Fresno is rolling out throughout California as exclusive importer. Eventually, it hopes to go national.

It took five years for Bravo Beverage to negotiate a deal with the Italian brewer, fine-tune Oro di Milano's three-beer lineup (lager, premium ale and brown amber ale), develop a distribution infrastructure and design attention-getting packaging.

"We took what they had developed," Margosian said, "and improved the ingredients and flavor profiles. They produce it, and I import it to the U.S."

Many people may remember Margosian from Margosian Beverage Co., which was sold in 1991 to Miller Beer of the Valley. He went on to found Bravo, which focuses on building and distributing niche products.

In the early 2000s he built the Kona brand and then sold the distribution rights to a larger company. Now, he's marketing Oro di Milano.

Margosian and his regional sales manager, Tom Phipps, have 140 accounts in Southern California and are working on Northern and Central California.

Roses Italian restaurant in Visalia and Daily Grill in Fresno are among the outlets in the Valley. Old Docs also has ordered it.

Batter up

Just in time for baseball season, Redcat Sports, an indoor batting cage, has opened in Fowler.

The facility at 113 E. Main St. has several cages, a pitching mound and arcade video games.

Owner John White, a building contractor, hopes to tap the community's strong interest in baseball and softball. The cages opened two months ago.

"This is a big baseball town," White said. "And people are always looking for a place to practice."

Already, the facility has been used by everyone from high school students to a 93-year-old man. "He comes in for the exercise," White said.

The cages are designed for the novice and experienced players. The mechanized pitching machines throw balls from 30 mph to a blazing 90 mph.

Redcat Sports is also available for party rentals.

Mall changes

Changes at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis include the loss of its Borders Express bookstore and the announcement of two salons coming to the mall.

Borders Group announced its plans to close 200 stores nationwide in November. Despite a letter-writing campaign that tried to save the store, it closed in January, said Greg Newman, the mall's general manager.

Two new salons with the same owner are scheduled to open soon.

Zarcone Salon is moving from Bullard Avenue near Highway 41 to a new location near the mall's movie theater. That 2,300-square-foot location will open in two or three months.

Owner Jayson Zarcone also plans to open a second, smaller salon in the mall called Studio Zarcone. That space is in the middle of the enclosed section of the mall and will have space for nine stylists' chairs. It is scheduled to open in the coming weeks.

The smaller location will have lower prices and is designed to help stylists who don't have a full clientele develop their business and eventually rent a booth at the larger salon, he said.