Written by Edward Smith
Saturday marks a key transition for Butterfish poke in Fresno. Two locations will close temporarily, but when they reopen, one in a matter of days, the other in a matter of months, lovers of the a-la-carte style fresh food will see one expanded menu and one entirely different restaurant.
Owners of the poke eateries are — temporarily — closing the Butterfish at Friant Avenue and Fresno Street and at Herndon and Palm avenues Saturday at 3 p.m., said Kevin Koligian and Brandon Smittcamp, co-owners. The location at Herndon and Fowler avenues will remain open through the transition.
When the restaurant near Wal-Mart reopens, it will still have the fresh, healthy, buildable concept, but beyond that, the food will unrecognizable to fans of poke. Owners are taking down the Butterfish name and replacing it with Mayd Modern Mediterranean. The owners hope it will introduce a new way for customers to enjoy falafel, kebab and fattoush from what’s currently available.
“In looking at Mediterranean food, it’s done one way,” Koligian said.
Much like Butterfish, guests will be able to build their own bowl, but using ingredients found in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Grain and salad bowls will accompany roasted vegetables and proteins and then topped with dips, spreads and sauces. The idea is to keep everything fresh.
“With Heirloom and some of our other restaurants, we’re really taking advantage of the great ingredients we have here in our backyard and building on that,” said Koligian.
Contractors will spend the next three months gutting the dining room to change the aesthetic to achieve a Mediterranean feel. The hope is to open shortly after the first of the year.
The kitchen will have to be upgraded to accommodate more hot food as well. But the line will be similar to Butterfish and food will be ordered the same way.
For the Butterfish on Friant Avenue, the close will be far shorter than the one near Wal-Mart. Koligian and Smittcamp are going to be introducing hot food to the menu, and doing so requires adding to the kitchen. In addition to the tuna, salmon and more in their bowls, they will be adding teriyaki beef, spicy chicken and even tri-tip. They will also be offering fried rice and roasted options for vegetables.
These additions will also come to the Clovis location in the coming months, said Smittcamp.
The change in the restaurant climate allowed them to utilize their existing space to bring the idea Smittcamp and Koligian had been working on for the past year, Koligian said.
“With the way things have changed especially in the restaurant industry this year, we believe that we can probably serve all of our existing clients relatively well with the Fresno and Clovis store since most of our business is done through delivery and take out,” Koligian said.