published on November 22, 2016 - 4:11 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
North Fresno’s retail scene continues to boom with new business, as two shopping centers off of Highway 41 welcome restaurants, fitness centers and boutique stores next month.


The Park Crossing Shopping Center on Friant Road, between First and Fresno streets, has already experienced exponential growth this year, opening popular eateries like Dickey’s Barbecue, Jersey Mikes and locally-owned Craft Beer Wine Bistro.

Craft Beer Wine Bistro owner Sunny Sandhu said business has been steady since opening a month and a half ago.

“We’re more than happy with the response,” Sandhu said, adding that the traffic in the area has brought many customers in to the new establishment, which offers 100 wines by the glass, 16 craft beers on tap and fresh and healthy paninis and salads.

“Anyone who lives north of Nees has to drive by so it’s a great location,” he said.

Before the Christmas holiday, Park Crossing will welcome another influx of new businesses — SheShe boutique, Figaro’s Mexican Southwestern Grill, Butterfish California Poke, Corner Bakery Cafe and CycleBar.

SheShe owner Ami Zinkin Dillon said she and her best friend decided to relocate the 12-year-old boutique, currently located at Friant and Fort Washington avenues, to the new Park Crossing Shopping Center to gain visibility and hopefully new customers.

“We just wanted to be in a location with more traffic,” Dillon said. “Here, everyone will see our sign and thousands of cars will pass by our storefront every day. The new space is also a little bigger, and we have a patio we didn’t have at our last space, which allows us to do more entertaining and host events.”

SheShe has a prime corner location next to the shopping center’s driveway. The boutique, which opens Black Friday, sells denim, jewelry, cocktail dresses, T-shirts and sweat outfits. SheShe also has personal stylists available by appointment and offers a “What Not To Wear” style service where a stylist will come to one’s home, go through their closet and revamp their wardrobe.

Rema Koligian, co-owner of Butterfish California Poke, said she and fellow co-owners Kevin Koligian and Brandon Smittcamp chose the Fresno area because they saw a need for something fast and healthy.

“In this particular area there is actually an absence of fast and easy to access food options,” Koligian said. “River Park, although it is not that far away, can get really congested, especially this time of year. But I think Friant is a main thoroughfare for everyone going north. Friant is just nice and convenient, right off the 41, and people who live in this area can get off work, stop here, and then go home and it’s along the way without being a detour, so I think that appeals to people.”

Butterfish California Poke is set to open in mid-December and will offer a California twist on Poke, a Japanese raw marinated fish-based dish that has become popular in Southern California. Butterfish will have classic seafood choices as well as non-seafood and even meatless options.

“We’re going to expand on what is currently available by offering different bases aside from just white or brown rice. We’ll have some unique twists, which we’re holding close to the vest right now,” Koligian said. “Our toppings will also range from traditional edamame and avocado to crispy crumbles of tempura and spicy options like habaneros. We’ll also have a variety of sauces that are all chef created, made in house and fresh.”

Koligian said the fast-casual Poke concept appeals to residents in that area who desire something fast that is healthier than traditional drive thru options. While Butterfish won’t have a drive thru, customers will be able to order and pay ahead via iPhone/Android app, and there will be a walk-up window for those picking up who don’t want to go in the restaurant.

“As a mom, the last thing I want to do it lug two kids out of the car, try to get in line and order. And my drive thru options don’t tend to be the healthiest, so this was that nice balance in between the two and I think that will appeal to a lot of people.”

Providing healthy and fast options is also a goal for Figaro’s Mexican Southwestern Grill, which opens this week in Fresno.

“We want to bring something completely new to the area,” Figaro’s Director of Operations Yvette Figueroa said. “The traditional Mexican food that you find tends to be calorie-filled. What we do is make healthier versions of your favorite dishes…When people think healthy, they think they have to cut out amazing tasting items, but our cuisine shows healthy eating doesn’t mean cutting out the flavor.”

The Fresno Figaro’s location is the fifth location for the up-and-coming Central Valley chain. The first Figaro’s opened in Tulare in 2004 and quickly expanded to Hanford and Visalia. In August, Figaro’s opened a Clovis location. Figueroa said the northeast Fresno location is perfect because of its heavy traffic flow and demographics.

“This is a prime location, it’s brand new and it’s in an area that is always growing,” Figueroa said.

Pairing well with the new healthy restaurant option, a new fitness phenomenon is also hitting the area.
Indoor cycling machines will be set up theater-style at Park Crossing’s CycleBar, and at RIDE54, a boutique fitness center set to open about the same time in Friant’s other expanding shopping center—The Village at River Park.

CycleBar differs from gyms that have cycling machines and offer classes in that memberships are not required — it’s pay as you go — and when someone decides to take a class, they are able to select the style, instructor and bike they want to ride.

RIDE54 offers a similar style, complete with a highly sophisticated sound and lighting system, an emphasis on fresh, upbeat music, and a variety of stats available for performance-based riders. Unlike CycleBar, RIDE54 will have memberships available as well as individual classes. RIDE54 will also have a second fitness room featuring TRX suspension training and boot camp classes, so members can work on strength training as well as cardio.

CycleBar owner Rachael Orlando said this type of indoor cycling is increasingly popular in larger markets, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, and she and her husband, Pete Orlando, are proud to introduce it to the Fresno market when CycleBar opens in December.

“Some of the major players, the corporate companies, may not be coming to Fresno because it’s not on their radar because they are infilling in a lot of different areas, not just in California, but other markets and big cities,” Orlando said. “CycleBar is really an opportunity to bring that same big city feel item or retailer to our market.”

RIDE54 owners Layne and Melissa Lev had the same idea, but rather than bring in a big city chain, they opted to start from the ground up and put their own Central Valley twist on boutique indoor cycling.

The Village at River Park, Layne Lev said, is the perfect area to open the new business.

“It’s a high traffic area,” Lev said. “We like being next to Kids Park daycare and the office spaces. We’ve already received a lot of emails from people who work in those spaces interested in Ride54. There is a combination of factors that make this space ideal, the new Dave and Buster’s creates high visibility and interest, we’re right off the freeway, and people can walk right over here from work.”

The Village recently welcomed the highly anticipated Dave and Buster’s restaurant, arcade and sports bar. A Mexican restaurant, Café Rio, also opened last month. RIDE54 will hold its soft opening in December and official grand opening in January.

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