Biz Beat

Bakery on the way, barbecue gone, and a shopping center transformed

Dickey's Barbecue Pit on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, Calif. is pictured (06-08-17). A sign on the door of the business said that the business is closed.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, Calif. is pictured (06-08-17). A sign on the door of the business said that the business is closed.

It’s nearly summer, the rain has stopped, and all of a sudden there’s a lot of construction going on in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Because there’s so much happening, I wanted to offer a few updates on some of the items I have written about in the last few months.

First of all, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Modesto has closed. The restaurant has occupied a spot on McHenry Avenue near Rumble Road for several years. It had a temporary closure in 2015, but seems to have closed for good. A sign in the window says as much. The phone line has not been disconnected. I left a message, but nobody has called me back yet. Dickey’s also has locations in Riverbank and Turlock that remain open. Many thanks to reader Nancy Breshears for the tip.

And goodbye, Elephant Bar. As I mentioned earlier, the former restaurant near Vintage Faire Mall is making way for a Panera Bread. It will be the popular bakery’s second location — the first opened on McHenry Avenue in 2015. The restaurant has stood vacant since it closed in 2014. Because Elephant Bars are so unique in structure and character, making them into something else takes wholesale changes.

A city of Modesto building permit notes that the building will be demolished before Panera begins construction.

Also under construction — the Smart & Final that is going into the former Save Mart on H Street. The front of the building has been transformed, with extensive work going on in just the last few weeks. The Smart & Final will be moving from its longtime home on Ninth Street, and also will add a section with fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s good news for the neighborhood, particularly the residence of nearby Ralston Tower, who again will have groceries within walking distance.

The rest of the Shops at Lincoln School shopping center is shaping up, as well. Look for a new fitness center and ice cream shop, along with the reopening of a Round Table Pizza there. Details on those as I learn them.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Here’s a job that is only one day in November, but it’s interesting work that also fulfills a civic duty. The Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters, Lee Lundrigan, announced this week she is seeking volunteers 18 or older who are registered California voters to serve as poll workers on Nov. 7.

Poll workers set up voting equipment, man the sites and assist voters. They must attend a two-hour training class and then work on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For that, they get $95.

Bilingual poll workers particularly are needed. To apply or for more information, go to or contact the Poll Worker Coordinator, 209-525-5233,

“We could not run an election without Poll Workers. We appreciate citizens who devote their time and energy to community service,” Lundrigan said in a news release.