An anniversary ribbon-cutting for the Rocket Dog location in Clovis was held in February 2019. File photo
Written by Edward Smith
A homegrown Fresno restaurant will close the doors of its second location in Clovis Sunday. But even though the location may be closing, fans may be able to get their hot dog fix when a food truck debuts in the next few weeks.
Despite being able to partially reopen, the owners of Rocket Dog couldn’t make their Clovis location work financially, said Kevin Lisitsin, co-owner of the gourmet hot dog restaurant.
Like so many other restaurants, Covid deeply affected the eatery. Over months of not being able to operate indoors, take out for the restaurant at Willow and Nees avenues had not been enough, Lisitsin said. The location’s proximity to the street as well as a heavy afternoon sun also made it difficult for outdoor dining. Even with take out, delivery services take as much as 20% of the ticket. Restaurants have to maintain higher volume to pencil out losses that high, said Lisitsin.
The landlord eventually added a smaller patio, but it was too late. The decision to close the Clovis location — which opened in early 2018 — became apparent about three months ago, Lisitsin said.
They will have to lay off four to five people. Some of them they had hired earlier in the year when Lisitsin and his partners opened Amalgamation Brewing Co. in Fresno.
“That for me is the most challenging part — listening to the stories of people who quit their jobs because they really like working for us,” Lisitsin said. “Having to hear their stories has just been devastating.”
Their location in Fresno “is actually doing ok,” he added. They lost a lot of the events and catering side of their business, and the patio at the location at Shaw Avenue and Highway 41 isn’t the largest, but it has remained pretty full, he said. Between the patio and limited indoor seating, they still maintain a good afternoon and dinner crowd.
But for whatever reason, Lisitsin felt that maybe the message wasn’t getting out for the Clovis location.
They are in the midst of plans to expand the patio for their Fresno location, which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
A food truck for Rocket Dog will also soon debut at parking lots and Fresno events. The truck is in the midst of being painted and they are waiting on an inspection from the Fresno County Department of Health.
Amalgamation Brewing Co. at 6585 N. Santa Fe Ave. is open. The beer garden sits 40 people and they have live music Wednesday and Thursday night. They also have indoor dining and serve tacos, nachos, sliders and flat bread.