11 Fresno Places I Miss From Childhood

Here are some of my favorite spots in Fresno that are no longer around. Basically, the 80s for an NW Fresno kid.

Hopefully, it sparks your own memories, wherever the hell ya grew up.

Blackbeards would be number one on my list except it is somehow still there. Intact. Almost unchanged. Which is awesome and sad at the same time.

MALIBU GRAND PRIX FRESNO

In the same place the Costco parking lot is now, behind the shopping center at the NE corner of Blackstone & Herndon, was Malibu Grand Prix. Letting kids race little Indy-style cars seems like a bad idea, but I never heard of anyone getting seriously hurt at it.

I think I spent more time in the arcade playing Tempest than on the race track. It was always a bit intimidating to me to drive those things … There. I said it. The Malibu cars, made for children, intimidated me. Didn’t know I’d be working out childhood issues today.

“I really could get into this!” is not something I ever said though. For the record.

WOODWARD PARK DRIVE IN

We no longer have a drive-in movie theater in Fresno and it sucks. The last one we had was Woodward, which is now a Home Depot and a Costco – definitely not an upgrade.

I can still remember going to the concession stand in the center, stealing looks at the other movies playing that I was too young to watch, enjoying the perfect Fresno Summer Nights and only half paying attention to the movie we came to see.

Madera still has one in operation, if you want to try and experience that again.

VIDEO GAME CAGE AT BLACKSTONE TOYS R US

This used to be the only place (that I can remember) you could get any game you wanted. Saving up money to get the latest hot game, only to find they were sold out of it, was always a bummer.

Bringing up the paper tag that represented the game, taking it to the cage and having them hand over the actual game, is one of the more satisfying things from childhood I recall. Is that sad?

TOWER RECORDS IN THE KMART SHOPPING CENTER

I got this picture from former Tower Records (OG location) worker, Dale Stewart of Capitol Punishment fame.

Records to the left. Tapes to the right. CDs eventually taking over. Record displays in the center. 45s of the Top Twenty Songs. These are the memories.

FESTIVAL GAME PALACE

It was not easy to try and make a $5 bill last for an afternoon, but I managed somehow. Shout out to Paperboy and the manual hockey game by the snack bar.

Dear God I could watch this all day:

THE GRAPE TRAY

It was next to the original Fresno Cost Plus at the NW corner of Shaw & Fresno. A sandwich shop, deli, and wine store. The reason I remember is it had a unique upstairs eating area unlike any in Fresno. I guess there is something about sitting and looking out over the shop from up high while having a salami & swiss.

The Grape Tray is still around. But it’s now at Palm & Bullard in the Opus One shopping center. And it’s just a wine shop. No cool upstairs or sandwiches. Boring.

I think it’s even in the spot that used to have a tiny record shop I would stop into after school and rarely buy something, much to the owner’s chagrin – wish I could remember the name of it.

FIG GARDEN LIQUOR (Original)

I know it’s still there but when I was a kid, Tom Seaver’s Father-In-Law owned it. He had the best (non-card shop) baseball card selection in town. He would even hand out autographed pictures of Tom Seaver to those of us that seemed like they cared. I got one or two over the years.

ARTHUR’S TOYS ON BLACKSTONE

The place to be even after Toys R Us opened. No other place could I look at custom electric cars to add to my track. It’s now Whitie’s Pets and went in there recently and was able to conjure a tiny bit of the vibe.

This is not me but I had the exact setup. Now I feel like going out and buying one:

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The hobby shop place in Fig Garden Village that sold model airplanes and cars, Bob’s Village Hobby. (Read about owner, Bob Hansen, here). My memories of the place are faint, but it definitely inspired me to hang my model planes from my bedroom ceiling.

The Fig Garden Movie Theater. I so much wish it was still there. If you are too young to remember, it was located roughly where the Deli Delicious and noodle place is, in the back NE corner of Fig Garden Village.

Festival Cinemas. Saw all the important 80s movies there. Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The greats.

I could go on for a while, as I’m sure you could too. Often I wonder what my kid will one day fondly remember about Fresno? It definitely won’t be a Drive-In.

[Arthur’s Toys pic taken from Miguel Diaz’s feed]

Where To Park At Whole Foods Fresno – The Most Important Blog Post You’ll Read In The Next Five Minutes

Since Amazon bought Whole Foods, people are a little worried about Amazon taking over all the things. I would be worried too except Wal Mart already did it, so let’s stop freaking out. Maybe focus on stopping Wal Mart and not worry so much about Whole Foods until they are dealt with.

Anywayyyy, the Fresno Whole Foods, located in Fig Garden Village, may not have a top ranking parking lot, but it is an interesting one.

I know what you’re thinking “Holy shit, this asshole is going to do another parking related post. What the hell is this site and why am I still here!?”

LOOK, BRO! People like this stuff. It’s like, everyday life and crap. It’s fun.

PARKING LOT BREAK DOWN

I’ll get to my favorite parking spot in a second. But first, the worst place to park? The Main Lot. You could also call this the Western Lot:

Oh sure, it looks benign now. But it’s tight and super annoying. You know how many Prius you have to avoid in this area? Look, I can see one in that picture already. I never park in this area.

As an extension to this lot, there is the area next to Habit Burger’s patio. I do sometimes park here, but only when going to Habit and not when I am just shopping at Whole Foods.

BETTER SPOTS

I’m not sure I would walk THIS far (even though I am a big advocate of walking instead of driving around searching for the closest spot), but if you’re feeling adventurous and really don’t want to park next to anyone, get out to the North side as it gets closer to the Wassabbi’s parking. No drama out here (except for a dude that can’t park straight):

This one has chargers. And hey, there is even a car getting charged up as we speak. Way to save some air, dude:

While not all of us can park in those particular stalls, I do like that lot to park in. The area closer to the apartments is a good one because it’s not busy.

But it’s not my favorite area to park. In fact, my favorite is not even an area. It’s one parking stall in particular. It even has its own restroom… Continue reading “Where To Park At Whole Foods Fresno – The Most Important Blog Post You’ll Read In The Next Five Minutes”

Uncle Harry’s Closing Will Not Stop Me Going To Fig Garden Village. Not Yet.

Maybe you heard that Uncle Harry’s Fig Garden Village location has closed. Not because the location wasn’t doing well or because Uncle Harry’s didn’t want to renew their lease. They did.

But the owners of Fig Garden, based in New York, wanted them out in favor of some national high-end paper store (wedding invites and such). Uncle Harry’s was not shy in posting about this in their window:

This Is Not The First Time

A very similar thing happened to the Ripe Tomato (you remember that place?) when Pieology wanted their spot, their local ass was encouraged to leave by the owners.

This has got some people fired up about these big city folk chipping away at the local charm of Fig Garden Village. I’m not real happy with it either.

But I am not at a point where I will protest by not shopping or eating at Fig Garden. Not yet. Hell, Jack’s Urban Eats just got taps, bro!! How can I give up on it now?!

But there is a tipping point somewhere. A line of demarcation. A point at which they push out one too many local shops in favor of a national chain.

Will it be Wassabi’s? The Elbow Room? Hungry Bear? Patio Cafe? Yeah, maybe it would be Patio Cafe. I’m really not sure. But they are starting to piss me off and a lot of other people too.

What would the tipping point be for you? Is there one?

Joshua Tehee (of the Fresno Bee) and I have a discussion about this on this month’s Flowing With Famous podcast. Listen in here.

11 Things I’m Thinking While Waiting For My Chipotle Burrito To Be Made

chipotle line

Living in Fresno, it always feels so wrong to go to a chain place to get anything Mexican food related. We make viral burritos and we are the Taco Capital of North America, after all.

That said. Chipotle is quick, tasty and consistent. So even us Fresnans get tempted to go in. My dumbass included.

Here are some things that pop into my head while watching my burrito get built – usually at the Fig Garden location:

  • Oh, this guy again [burrito maker]. He’s cool, makes a good burrito. I wonder if he secretly hates me.
  • Are they ever going to change this industrial airport hanger look? I still like it okay, just wondering.
  • It only takes 5 seconds for the burrito maker to forget what meat I want in the burrito. Steak. I said steak.
  • The cooks seem to have the better gig, meesa thinks. No dealing with us asshole customers asking “Can I have that on the side of… the side and extra of the other thing? Also, no chicken on my chicken burrito, please!”
  • Is the burrito maker starter person the Top Dog in the restaurant? Like, the job to ascend to? Who is the manager here, because I can’t tell.
  • I think the guy behind me is trying to intimidate me to order faster by getting in my personal space. Chill out, bro, you’ll get your double white rice when your time comes.
  • Ha! Corn salsa. Why do people have the corn salsa? WHY!? Such a waist. You totally could of had the good salsa: Pico de gallo. Fun to say, “Picooo de Gallllloooo”.
  • I still don’t know if I have to pay for the guacamole on the side or is it included since I got a burrito but did not have it actually put into said burrito. Whatever, I’ll pay extra. I pay for extra paper bags all the time, like a boss!
  • Does anyone actually get a beer here? I’m a heavy beer drinker and I never have. I need to change that. #goals
  • How do they distribute the tip jar money? Do the cooks get any? Does it go to some sorta fund for an employee pizza party?
  • The new chorizo meat does not look right.

I would feel a lot better about myself if I exclusively burrito-ed local. But I think the occasional Chipotle visit is here to stay. At least they have a very solid Social Media Manager on Twitter to make me feel a little better:

*photo source.

Don’t Be Lame, Whole Foods Fig Garden, Fresno Needs This

  
The time has come, Whole Foods Fresno. Turn your dumb little cooking demo room into a craft beer bar. 

You know the little area, tucked into the corner of the bread department. The one you rarely use for anything – except for what you are using it as now: a backroom for your bread department:

  

This needs to have beer taps in it, not bread racks.

You may think that a craft beer bar inside a grocery store is not a thing. You would be wrong. It is a thing. In fact, Whole Foods leads the way in grocery store beer bars. They have several.

In fact, the Houston one even has a brewery! And the one down in Del Mar (SD) has really terrible cover bands playing:

https://youtu.be/Fg_Vo8WFolc

Just imagine that inside Fresno’s Whole Foods – only with the Light Thieves playing.

Hybrid drinking holes

This Whole Foods craft beer bar need opens things up to another stellar idea.

On The Perfect Pour we somewhat jokingly floated the idea of having a beer bar inside a hardware store and also how there are not enough sandwich shops with beer.

This is a good start. I wouldn’t mind having a beer with my Gino’s sub. But what other Fresno places could use some beer?

Since a CSU rule prevents Bulldog Stadium from selling beer, that one stays off the list. Also, hair salons recently got the ok to serve alcohol [legally], so that’s taken care of. 

With that, here are some ideas to spice up some local places with a beer bar:

 Jury Duty. Yeah you might get more people to actually show up if there was the promise of one free beer (or wine) per day. Mmmmm, Goverment beerrrr.

Pep Boys. Just using Pep Boys as a place holder, it could be any mechanic in town. I would actually get my oil changed at the mileage Jiffy Lube suggested if I knew I could have a hoppy pale while waiting.

Costco. It would be cheap, as long as you bought two gallons at a time. … on second thought: fuck this. I don’t want to go into Costco any more than I have to.

So lets get that beer bar going, Whole Foods Fresno! Hurry, before Pottery Barn beats you to it. 

If you have a suggestion for a place in Fresno that could use a beer & wine bar, leave it in the comments!