Written by The Business Journal Staff
Southern California-based grocery chain Shun Fat Supermarket appears to be readying its first Central Valley location.
Real estate records show the Chinese-Vietnamese-American grocery chain began leasing 58,000-square-feet of space at 4970 E. Kings Canyon Ave. from Stephen Investments, Inc. last summer, with construction permits pulled for the property in December 2016.
The Shun Fat supermarket is located between Dollar Tree and Ross near the southwest corner of Kings Canyon and Willow avenues in southeast Fresno in an old Food Maxx location.
Founded in 1993 by Chinese-Vietnamese entrepreneur and seafood wholesaler Hieu Tran, the rapidly growing Asian supermarket chain has since added a dozen locations throughout Southern and Northern California.
Most California stores are clustered in the Los Angeles market, but Shun Fat has also recently spread across the southwest, opening a superstore in Texas and two supermarkets in Las Vegas.
According to its website, the chain carries a wide range of imported grocery items from China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Going above and beyond the departments found in many of our competitors’ stores, we distinguish ourselves by carrying varieties of fruit and produce from the four corners of the globe, a large selection of fresh, frozen and live seafood, and a full line of Asian, American and Hispanic groceries,” the site reads.
The company’s name, Shun Fat is described as being a transcription of Cantonese and Vietnamese phrases that both mean a favorable distribution of wealth.
Raw Fresno putting down roots
Local food truck Raw Fresno will soon open its first brick-and-mortar location in Downtown Fresno.
Owner and chef Naomi Hendrix picked up the keys to her new space in the Galleria at Fresno’s Civic Center Square last month, and is currently in the midst of updating the former site of the Fresno Grand Opera Business Office.
“It’s pretty small so we’re having to build out the inside,” she said. “It’s a good fit for us though since we don’t cook food. Everything is prepared with knives or at most, we use a food dehydrator.”
Hendrix was inspired to start the business after the death of her son nine years ago. The 21-year-old died from complications stemming from gluten intolerance, a fate Hendrix hopes to spare others.
Her quest to promote a gluten, sugar, soy, peanut and dairy free diet led her to begin teaching cooking classes at local farmer’s markets six years ago. Her vegan paleo recipes, billed as “food that matters,” found an eager audience and Hendrix expanded to a food truck operation four years later.
The Raw Fresno truck now has a loyal following and appears regularly at mobile gatherings throughout the city, including Gazebo Gardens and CArthop.
Last October, Hendrix placed second in the Downtown Fresno Foundation’s “Create Here Business Plan Competition.” While the spot did not come with any sort of prize, Raw Fresno’s proposal for a restaurant in the Galleria proved a hit with Civic Center owners and the group later offered her 12 months free rent.
“They had originally wanted a salon space to go in there, but I guess they liked my idea a lot because within a few days they reached back out to me,” she said.
Located next door to Teazer’s, Hendrix said she hopes to partner with the teahouse on several weekly events including board game nights on Tuesdays and open comedy night on Friday’s. The 916-square-foot restaurant will also join the Downtown Art Hop circuit and continue to host food preparation classes for the public.
As buzz builds around the new space, Hendrix said she continues to hear from local supporters. A friend of her late son’s who now works at Fresno-based California Tiny House even reached out to offer construction services for the new space.
“Everything has just been falling into place for me and I feel really lucky to have all this support,” she said. “I love being a part of the community down here. I have so many childhood memories of Downtown and I really want to help be a part of the transformation.”
The new restaurant will create between three and six new jobs and Hendrix said she plans to continue operating the food truck, even expanding its operation hours to include a new commitment at Fresno City College.
“We’re the first food truck they’ve agreed to let on campus,” she said. “They know the food is a hit with the students and we’ll begin making an appearance there two days a month.”
Zamore Mobile Pizzeria gets new name, permanent location
Zamore food truck is no more.
The popular pizza caterer officially changed its name this week and announced plans to open a physical restaurant space in Downtown Fresno. Located half a block away from Chukchansi Park on Tulare Street, Grizzly City Pizza plans to open its doors by early March.
The new name drew inspiration both from hip hop artist Fashawn — who often refers to Fresno as Grizzly City in his music — and the restaurant’s close proximity to the Fresno Grizzlies’ ball club.
“We had always had a lot of confusion with the pronunciation of the name Zamore, so when we opened this space, it just felt like the right time to change it,” said Sean Duquette, owner of Grizzly City Pizza.
For the record, the “za” in Zamore was meant to be pronounced like the last syllable of the word “pizza.”
He and his dad, Steve Duquette, entered the pizza business in 2014, opening a food truck and joining the growing mobile catering industry. The pair always planned to expand to a brick-and-mortar space, however, and began making the transition after access to local commercial kitchens dwindled.
“We wanted to expand while keeping the truck but it was getting harder to use a kitchen and meet the health codes and then we ended up having to get rid of the truck to help pay for this space,” Sean Duquette said. “We’re excited about coming Downtown though because all of our friends with the other trucks are moving down here as well.”
The 2,000-square-foot space is in the site of the old Downtown Hofbrau and will feature two floors of dining, craft beer and a full bar. Grizzly City will keep the focus on pizza, but Duquette said he also wants to add smaller Italian dishes that people can easily share while getting drinks.
“With the truck we only ever did pizza by the slice, but here the emphasis will really be on shareable or family-style dining,” he said. “We really want to just create a comfortable atmosphere and make it a welcoming spot for night-life.”
The pair already has some experience managing a restaurant — Steve Duquette owned Tower Dogs in Fresno’s Tower District for several years — and Sean Duquette said he is hopeful the business will find an eager audience.
Grizzly City Pizza will be open until at least 10 p.m. and offer delivery services to Downtown and the Tower District.
“I’m not expecting a huge dinner crowd on weekdays, but I’m sure we’ll be kept busy with deliveries to all the residents and businesses in the area,” Sean Duquette said.
News of the new business model has already spread on social media, and the restaurant is currently hosting a logo design contest to go with the name change. Top entries will eventually be shared with followers and fans for feedback and Duquette said the final winner will receive a free large pizza every week for a year.
The deadline for entry is Feb. 12.
Casa de Tamales expands to Downtown Fresno
Fresno’s Casa de Tamales has joined the recent wave of restaurants transitioning from a food truck presence to a brick-and-mortar spot in Downtown Fresno.
The restaurant held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new restaurant on the Fulton Mall earlier this week and will be open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
While the new spot is not the first Casa de Tamales restaurant facility opened by owner Liz Sanchez, she said the Downtown site marks a transition from the business’ previous efforts in the area.
“We’ve done some work at farmer’s markets and different events in the Downtown area for a while already,” she said. “It just made sense to be open here permanently now.”
Sanchez started Casa de Tamales in 2010 and quickly built a following for her unique take on the classic dish. The restaurant features vegetarian and vegan options as well as dessert tamales with chocolate and fruits.
Last summer, she moved the restaurant from its original site on West Shaw Avenue into the former space of Charlotte’s Bakery in the Tower District and announced plans to push further south with the new spot Downtown.
Located on the ground floor of the T.W. Patterson Building along the southeast side of the Fulton Mall, the new restaurant features the same menu as the Tower District site. Homemade tamales, tacos, salads and sangria will be sold at lunch and dinner.
The new restaurant created 12 jobs and Sanchez said the business would continue operating a small food truck during CArthop and other Downtown events.
Local personal training studio changing the fitness conversation
Local personal training studio Function Better Fitness recently expanded its services to offer clients more custom workout options.
Owner Dave Fatula opened the business two years ago but said he began ramping up services in December after adding movement specialist Danielle Myers to the staff.
“We share a similar philosophy, which is that we want to promote the longevity and the quality of life for our clients through customized programs,” he said. “Our approach is based on a client’s long-term health rather than immediate results.”
Located near Maple and Nees avenues in northeast Fresno, the small studio currently sees between 40 and 50 clients.
While the training services can be customized to fit the needs of anyone between the ages of 10 and 90, Fatula said he has seen particular success with older individuals.
“What we do is for everybody, but the people who seem to appreciate it the most are seniors. It’s often because they are older and tired of injuring themselves through other routines,” he said.
Myers agreed and said her degree in exercise science has allowed her to appreciate the particular needs of the baby boomer generation.
“They’re going to these gyms and working out with young people and trainers, when that is really not the right fit for them,” she said.
By emphasizing fundamentals and proper movement technique, Myers said Function Better Fitness is able to help clients relieve some of their pain and gain control over their own workout system.
While some clients have found Function Better Fitness on their own, Fatula said the studio also receives referrals from local doctors and chiropractors. The two trainers each have more than a decade of experience in the field, with Fatula bringing a background in sports training and Myers offering a physical therapy skillset.
The pair currently offers one-on-one and small group sessions onsite, but eventually plan to move to a larger office near Woodward Park and conduct outdoor training.
Fatula said he is also hoping to begin offering corporate wellness programs to local small businesses and recently developed a fitness program for Clovis Unified School District.
Hannah Esqueda | Reporter can be reached at:
490-3466 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org