Written by Gabriel Dillard
The Downtown Fresno Partnership has released its slate of nine finalists for its annual Create Here Business Plan Competition.
Now in its third year, the competition offers cash prizes to entrepreneurs who develop business plans for enterprises in Downtown Fresno. Five winners will receive a total of $25,000 in cash prizes, with a grand prize of $10,000. Winners will be announced in January 2021.
This year’s competition focuses on Covid-19 adaptability and concepts that add to the mix of Downtown Fresno businesses. Finalists were chosen by a committee of Downtown Fresno business owners, property owners and representatives of lending institutions. Finalists have until Dec. 3 to work with business mentors from the Valley Community SBDC to improve their business plans. The Create Here Business Plan Competition is made possible by JP Morgan Chase and the Central Valley Community Foundation through the PRO Neighborhoods Grant.
This year’s finalists are, according to a news release:
559 Retro Arcade
A new bar and arcade concept which will highlight the retro gaming and music era from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s. The company’s goal is to bring back the nostalgic time when a quarter bought you something. 559 Retro Arcade will serve drinks and snacks and be a fun atmosphere for the whole family. Instagram: 559_retro_arcades
Advocates of E-Sports
A company that aims to establish and develop an esports community center in the heart of Downtown Fresno, known as Advocates of Esports. Adding a community and entertainment esports center would add to Downtown Fresno’s thriving tech scene.
An outdoor movie theatre that will bring a new socially distanced movie viewing experience to Downtown Fresno. Guests can expect delicious Caribbean style soul food from their sister company, Barb’s Soulfood, and movies focusing on African American movie stars and culture. Barb’s Drive in will also feature other local food trucks, DJ’s and vendors and offers the Fresno community an opportunity to get out of the house in a safe and fun way during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instagram: @barbsdrivein Website: https://www.barbsdrivein.com/
Fig and Honey
Curators of artisanal cheeses and meats, local and sustainable nuts, fruits and vegetables into beautiful works of edible art and sustenance. Their downtown location will operate as a café, market, wine bar and home base for their catering operations serving the greater Fresno area. Facebook: @figandhoneylavishgrazing Instagram: @figandhoneylavishgrazing Website: https://www.figandhoneygrazing.com/
A curated plant store with the goal of creating a space where people can come and share an experience at the intersection of botany and art in Downtown Fresno. Care will be taken to create a space that showcases handmade ceramic art along with indoor specimen plants to fill homes to ultimately help foster long lasting relationships with humans and the natural world. Instagram: @livingtogether.store
ML Home and Furniture
A furniture company that stages houses with new furniture, showing and selling new furniture in homes that are on the market, which creates the perfect buying scenario for customers. As part of the company’s plan to expand, M+L Home Furniture is looking for a space in Downtown Fresno that can operate as both a home base for their staging operations and a retail space for furniture sales. Facebook: @mlhomeandfurniture Website: https://www.mlhomeandfurniture.com/
A rooftop bar at the historic Pacific Southwest Building that is nearly ready to start serving up cocktails in their newly renovated space. The mission of Quail State is to provide guests with an elevated drinking experience with authentic hospitality. Using 80% locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, Quail State will serve iconic and irresistible cocktails to its patrons for their consumption while taking in the sights from atop the most historic building in the Fresno skyline. Cocktails will be made using modern techniques, served in timeless glassware, and the art and ambiance will be influenced by local artists and artisans. Facebook: @quailstatefresno Instagram: @quailstatefresno Website: https://quailstatefresno.com/
This business aims to increase the footprint of Take 3 Burgers in Downtown Fresno by creating the nighttime alter-ego and event space, T3000. This expansion will not only provide the business with the necessary space to distance customers during the Covid pandemic, but also provide a platform for downtown nightlife experiences unlike anything else in Fresno. Utilizing Take 3’s existing kitchen, guest chefs can create artistic food concoctions that bring a unique flair to Fulton Street in Downtown Fresno.
Tumbleweed Baking Company
Tumbleweed Baking Co. is the next generation of pastry, lunch, coffee and after dinner nightcaps – providing delicious, local and homemade goods. They want to bring joy to Fresno locals needing a new way to celebrate their socially distant lives. Their goal is to spread cheer in this tough time, and to continue spreading cheer in whatever times are to come.
The competition has helped bring several successful businesses to Downtown Fresno in recent years including Modernist, MAS Fresno, ROOT General, and RAW Fresno.