Z's Place

Z’s Place owner Angelo Zissou signed a lease for the former Packing Shed space three months before the Covid-19 pandemic occurred. It opened at the end of July. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on August 15, 2022 - 11:03 AM
Written by Frank Lopez

Downtown Fresno has a new place for breakfast and lunch in a familiar location.

Z’s Place opened toward the end of July at 2119 Merced St. just north of the new Fresno County Recorder’s office.

Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Z’s Place serves breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, omelets, hamburgers, hot dogs, burritos, deli sandwiches, salads, and a few popular Greek dishes such as gyros, falafel, and pita sandwiches.

Z’s Place owner Angelo Zissou signed a lease for the space three months before the Covid-19 pandemic occurred. Because of restrictions in place at the time, Zissou delayed opening to be sure he could operate and make a profit.

“I decided to wait. Things weren’t normal and I didn’t want to take a chance. I wanted to wait for things to get closer to how they were before and then decided to open,” Zissou said.

For nearly 2 1/2 years the space remained empty. A sandwich shop called the Stacking Shed occupied the space, closing in 2019. Prior to that, another sandwich shop, the popular Packing Shed, occupied the space until 2016. Zissou was paying rent of $6,000 to $9,000 annually for the period the storefront was empty.

Zissou has worked in kitchens and run restaurants for more than 40 years. He immigrated to the U.S. from Greece at age 19 around 1974. He stared working as a line cook in Los Angeles and has been in the industry ever since.

Though Z’s Place is his first restaurant in Fresno, he has owned and operated several restaurants in Southern California. He closed the last restaurant he owned in 2012. Prior to opening Z’s Place, he worked at a restaurant his friend operated.

“After that, I got stuck in Fresno,” Zissou joked.

Zissou moved to Fresno about seven years ago after he married a woman from here. He said he was scoping out other locations in Fresno, but his wife recommended the downtown spot, saying it was perfect for breakfast and lunch.

There were some renovations required—he had to redo and paint the dining room, as well as furnish the kitchen with equipment including a grill and frier. Upgrades to the kitchen and bathroom were also required to meet city codes.

Z’s Place currently has five employees, but guests can find Zissou working the grill every day, making sure the food and presentation is up to his standards.

Zissou said business has been going well for the first two weeks, with the dining area frequently full. Some customers will eat breakfast and lunch there on the same day.

Eventually, Z’s place will offer food delivery services such as DoorDash or UberEats, but right now, he is starting off slow.

“The people are happy. The offices around are coming in, employees from the jail, police officers are coming in—they’re starting to come in, and that’s how I wanted it, little by little. We are ready,” Zissou said.


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