PG&E project might hurt business for Northeast Fresno farm

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A trip to the Sierra Nuthouse could soon be a little more difficult. A utility project threatens to reduce access to the nuthouse in northeast Fresno and the owner is hoping the torn up streets won't keep customers away.

Shoppers looking for almonds, pistachios and just about every other kind of nut or dried fruit have been coming to the Sierra Nuthouse on Chestnut and Sierra Avenues for nearly 50 years. Holiday gift boxes and baskets of goodies sold during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season make up most of their business.

"It's the only time of year, especially for the farm store," Company president Jo Ann Sorrenti said. "It's what keeps us going all year long."

Sorrenti is worried about losing customers because PG&E is about to start tearing up the streets to replace a gas line.

"Our concern is having access to our store at Sierra and Chestnut," she said. "Our customers, and trucks and deliveries and product going out."

PG&E says they are aware of the concerns and right now trying to figure out a way to minimize the impact of the business.

"We are aware of the impacts of it. We do our best not to schedule projects during times that are going to impact customers but, unfortunately, sometimes due to safety we just have to move forward," Denny Boyles with the company said.

The construction work starts in a week and will take about a month. So far, the only plan is to redirect traffic to a back way in.

"We are going to be open, it may be a trick getting in there," Sorrenti said. "They are saying we will have access from Willow to Sierra."

The store used to be the center of a 60-acre orchard. It's now surrounded by homes but remains the heart of the business. It's where products are packed and shipped and prepared for the other Sierra Nuthouse store in the Villagio Shopping Center at Blackstone and Alluvial Avenues.

Sorrenti and her employees are counting on steady business at both stores especially over the holidays.

"Absolutely make or break time," she exclaimed.

She wants folks to know the store will still be open, though perhaps a little harder to get to.
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