TURLOCK -- After three decades of bursting at the seams, one of downtown's longtime restaurants is moving a couple of blocks away to far bigger digs.
Jura's Pizza Parlor closed a little more than a week ago at North Golden State Boulevard and Olive Avenue. Co-owner Papiola Aghassi hopes to reopen today at a new location at Mitchell Avenue and North Center Street.
"We were noticing we were always turning away customers," Aghassi said of Jura's, which her father started and named for her older brother. "We decided we needed a bigger place and started shopping around."
What they found was a building three times the size that formerly housed El Antojito Mexican restaurant. They also found a lot of work, because the building had been vacant for roughly 10 years, Aghassi said. Family and employees have been working on it for three months.
After closing the parlor last week, they moved over all the kitchen equipment, hopefully alleviating one concern among longtime customers: "Our food will taste the same," Aghassi said with a laugh.
While several chain pizza outlets have moved into Turlock over the years, Jura's has remained a mainstay since 1979. Fans on Yelp note the wings and pizza, as well as the hometown atmosphere. Complaints stem from the furniture and the cramped nature of the place when there's a crowd.
Aghassi hopes the move addresses those concerns. The main dining area is upstairs; plans call for a sports-bar type of atmosphere downstairs, but that won't open for a couple of months, until restrooms are installed on that floor.
The building has an outdoor patio on its second floor; Aghassi hopes to put seating and perhaps an additional bar out there at some point.
The furniture is new; the flooring isn't. A new jukebox takes credit cards; a dumbwaiter that dates back years will allow servers on the lower floor quick access to meals prepared in the kitchen upstairs.
Although the traditional offerings will taste the same and cost roughly the same, Aghassi said the menu will expand to include hamburgers and more sandwiches, which Jura's used to offer when her dad ran the restaurant.
Another change is how customers will get their food. Rather than counter service, wait staff will take orders from patrons seated at tables. Jura's will hire four or five more people, bringing the staff to 16, to handle the changes and expanded bar service.
For now, the focus is on getting open. Aghassi said customers have been calling and stopping by to see when that will happen. Among them: Sonya and Marcial Garcia of Turlock.
"We go by here every day," Sonya Garcia said.
Her husband said he loves the ribs at Jura's. Sonya said she likes everything, but particularly "the great atmosphere. It's kept us coming back for 15, 20 years."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.