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Co-owners of The Modernist, Carmen Serrato and Po Tsai, took the grand prize of the Downtown Fresno Partnership's Create Here contest Tuesday. Photo by Edward Smith.

published on October 1, 2019 - 11:11 AM
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Cheers to the winner! A craft cocktail concept took the grand prize today in Downtown Fresno Partnership’s Create Here Business Plan Competition.

The Modernist would be among the first proprietors of craft cocktails in the Brewery District of Downtown Fresno. It is the brainchild of Carmen Serrato and Po Tsai, and is primed for a winter opening, but co-owner Po Tsai wanted to stress that winter “goes from December to February.”

A total of five winners were selected through the program, with a grand prize of $10,000, two $5,000 winners and two $2,500 prizes. Winners will also receive a package of donated services from local businesses, including flooring, signage and more.

Finalists will also receive mentorship from members of Fresno County SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) to develop their business plan.

Tsai and Serrato said plans have been submitted with the City of Fresno. They’ll use the $10,000 for construction costs, which should begin this week “if all things go right,” said Tsai.

Another bar and event venue, McQueens End of the Line took second place. The bar/speakeasy/outdoor venue should begin construction at the beginning of next year with a look toward a summer 2020 opening, according to co-owner Miguel Arambula. They will be inside a 100-year-old home downtown.

MAS Fresno also won second place prizes. It will be a retail attraction and design center that will be new to Fresno and new to fashion. MAS Fresno will provide custom high-end quality garments, as well as a maker-space for people looking to create, grow and sell their own clothing brand.

Women’s fashion retailer DressHer took third place. The store will carry organic/recycled clothing that focuses on women and mothers. DressHer will give women the idea of a walk-in dresser when they visit, connecting all women and mothers.

Also taking third place prizes was Cafe Alchemy. The coffee house and social enterprise hopes to bring together an immersive, cultural, and educational coffee experience. With keeping intentionality at the core of the business, the physical space will be designed for learning and the staff will be required to undergo rigorous and comprehensive training on the quality and origin of the coffee. The location at 1250 Fulton St. has hosted pop-ups but is not yet open for day-to-day operations.

Modernist was among nine finalists in the contest. The other finalists include:

—Downtown Deli & Market – A local deli and market that will target the lunch crowd with hot and cold sandwiches, along with other side dishes. This business will provide a new take out/dine in deli establishment downtown. Business owner Leon Alchian of Majestic Jewelry & Loan Co. is behind the concept currently under construction at 2621 Fresno St. across from City Hall.

— Havana Cafe – Havana Cafe will be the first ever Cuban cafe in Fresno. Havana Cafe will provide high quality Cuban espresso, sandwiches, dishes, pastries and soft drinks.

— Meltdown Bistro – Meltdown Bistro started as a food truck in 2015 and is looking to expand to a brick and mortar location. Meltdown Bistro serves America fusion food with sandwich melts.

— The Bad Apple – The Bad Apple primarily wants to serve hard cider, as well as low-mid range priced wine to customers. The products would ideally be from cider and wine companies from the Central Valley.

The winner of the previous competition was HoP PK, which opened in late 2017 at 820 Van Ness Ave. Other Create Here applicants that went on to open business in Downtown Fresno included Raw Fresno and ROOT General.

A panel of Downtown Fresno business owners, property owners and representatives of community development financial institutions sat on a panel to select the winners.

The program is funded by the Downtown Fresno Foundation, which received a grant from the Central Valley Community Foundation and JP Morgan Chase called the PRO Neighborhoods Grant.


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