World Sports Cafe

The former World Sports Cafe space at River Park will feature JPot, a hot-pot style restaurant. Photo by Edward Smith

published on October 17, 2018 - 11:47 AM
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One half of Fresno’s biggest culinary guessing game has been solved – the former World Sports Cafe space at River Park will feature a hot-pot restaurant.

JPot, a Taiwanese-style eatery, will take up about 5,500 square feet– approximately half of the space that World Sports Cafe used to occupy, according to Jason Lin, general manager of JPot. It will be located on the half near The Broilers restaurant, and could be open by early next year.

The other tenant has not been disclosed yet, but an announcement will be made in the coming weeks, said Tracy Kashian, vice president of marketing for Lance-Kashian & Co., which owns River Park.

The restaurant will bring a bit of Asian culture in the form of hot pot, which is a preparation method where diners can cook their own vegetables and meat in a boiling broth. Fresh veggies and meat are then dipped in a sauce that customers can customize themselves. Using bases like garlic sauce, peanut sauce and others, people can mix-and-match to their pleasing.

JPot will offer 10 different varieties, from Korean-style, Szechuan, curry and miso, as well as vegan and vegetarian options.

Proteins including lamb, beef and chicken will be thinly cut, allowing the high temperature of the broth to cook them, making it healthier since it doesn’t need oil to prepare, Lin said.

Shabu shabu is a Japanese style of hot pot, which has emerged as a popular dining experience in America akin to Korean BBQ, where diners grill their own food at their table.

“The uniqueness about our shabu shabu is that everybody can get their own pot,” said Lin. “It’s more sanitary and you can have your own individual pot according to your own taste – everything from really spice to really mild.”

There will also be yakitori, or Japanese-style meat skewers, and boba tea. The restaurant will have dine-in options, a patio and full bar.

Lin, along with investors from his group, J-Lin’s Restaurant Inc., also own Hino Oishi at Campus Pointe near Fresno State and Lin’s Fusion on Blackstone Avenue north of Shaw Avenue.

Lin was drawn to the River Park location, calling it a “great spot to hang out.” Early projections call for JPot to open around February 2019.

The space across from Edwards 21 Cinema has been vacant since 2014, when World Sports Cafe closed. Work to divide the space into two restaurants has been ongoing since 2017.

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