Well-Known Restaurants Moving to Fresno

August 8, 2008 9:09:52 PM PDT
One of the country's biggest upscale restaurant chains will serve its first customers Friday night.Ruth's Chris Steakhouse will host VIP's before it officially opens its doors in Fresno on Monday.

The staff is getting some last minute advice as one of the nation's largest upscale restaurant chains gets ready to open its doors at River Park. With the closest Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in San Francisco, the general manager says Fresno is a good fit.

K.J. Monroe, Ruth's Chris Steak House: "Demographically Fresno meets what Ruth's Chris is looking for. It has a huge amount of resources. It's the agricultural method of the world."

Not far from Ruth's Chris another national chain, Chick-Fil-A, will soon fill the hole left by Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And across town, construction crews are working on rocker Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo. It's one of three more upscale restaurants being built side by side at Granite Park. The developer says many of the bigger chains are just realizing how big the valley is, and how much money there is to be made here.

Milton Barbis, Granite Park Developer: "I think there's plenty of spendable income. I think the people in Fresno appreciate great things and need something to do."

"Ruth's Chris and the others will join some 15-hundred restaurants in the Fresno area alone. While most of them are not as pricey, a longtime restaurant owner says in this economy they are all competing for the same dollars."

Lorraine Salazar is co-owner of the original Sal's in Fresno and a member of the state restaurant association. She says the national chains will put more pressure on locally owned restaurants to keep customers coming back.

Lorraine Salazar, Restaurant Owner: "We may not have the deep pockets and the training and marketing dollars that the chains have. But we do have the ability as an owner to touch our people a lot more."

For now Salazar says she expects Fresno's usual honeymoon period with Ruth's Chris. But customers will decide what's happens after that.

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