From left, Jimmy Pardini, Jim Pardini and Jeff Pardini in front of the Annex Kitchen bar. Photo contributed.
Written by Edward Smith
Looking for a bar where you can enjoy a classic American cocktail? A longstanding caterer is opening a bar Thursday in northwest Fresno.
Partly because of what has been a halt in the catering and events industry, Pardini’s Catering transformed one of their private lounges into Al’s Bar, a celebration of the five decades of serving food in the Central Valley, said Jeff Pardini, general manager of Pardini’s Catering. The bar will open Thursday at 4 p.m.
What used to be their Tuscan Room at Pardini’s Catering will now serve cocktails with its own unique menu directly to the public. They’ve coordinated staff and drinks with Annex Kitchen, their neighbor.
They’ll have regional cocktails as well as drinks from different periods of American history.
The bar will open this week with a hard date to come in the next couple days. Situated next to Annex Kitchen means making Al’s a perfect place for people who want to get a drink before hopping over to dinner, said Pardini.
Food will focus on small bites that pair well with cocktails — fried olives, focaccia and salty snacks, said Jimmy Pardini, who developed the menu during quarantine. He said the time off gave him the ability to be creative=
The space goes back to when it was the bar for the original Pardini’s Restaurant, owned by Jeff and Jimmy’s grandfather, Al Pardini, the restaurant’s namesake. They’ve decorated the interior with wood furnishings and will feature a live piano on the weekends.
The catering industry has been especially hit hard. In response, Pardini’s has expanded their operations to include take-out. They also debuted a food truck — The Big Wagon — with barbecue sandwiches and fried chicken near their location at 2257 W. Shaw Ave.
“With all the social distancing and basically the ban on large events right now, the catering and banquet business is basically non-existent, so we thought let’s utilize this great bar we have,” said Pardini. “Let’s use this bar that harkens back to the classic cocktail days in American history and have a tribute to our family history in the building.”