Biz Beat

Business Beat: Restaurant, pharmacy to open in Turlock; mysteries in Modesto and Riverbank

Construction cones and newly laid sidewalk can be seen across from the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank.
Construction cones and newly laid sidewalk can be seen across from the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank.

For the most part, I like to write about what I know. But this week’s column is about what I know and don’t know. What I know is that two new businesses are coming to a shopping center on West Monte Vista Avenue in Turlock. What still has me stymied are projects in Modesto and Riverbank.

Let’s start with what I know, which is that Turlock is getting a new restaurant that will sound familiar to Oakdale residents, and a pharmacy with a new vision that looks back about 40 years.

The Cottonwood, a longtime cafe on Yosemite Avenue in Oakdale, is expanding into Turlock. The restaurant is taking over the former site of Frost Bakery, 2014 W. Monte Vista Ave.

Owner Renu Arora said she hopes to have the restaurant open by the end of the week, pending final inspection by city staff.

I haven’t been to the Cottonwood in Oakdale, but if the reviews on Yelp are any indication, it’s worth the trip – one reviewer called the turkey pesto panini “friggin’ stupid good.”

“People love the meat,” Arora said. Also popular are soups and sandwiches.

The restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Arora said she hasn’t decided whether to open on Sundays.

Just a few doors down from the Cottonwood, pharmacists John Piro and Eddie Isaac are opening Turlock’s New Vision Pharmacy. The sign says TNV Pharmacy – “I couldn’t get Turlock’s New Vision to fit on the sign,” Piro said.

Piro and Isaac are longtime residents of Turlock. Both worked at larger pharmacies, but “we wanted to go back to the old-time pharmacy,” Piro said.

That means one-on-one interaction with patients and customers, excellent customer service and, eventually, even a soda fountain.

“It’s been pretty exciting,” Piro said. “Pharmacy is an evolving field, with something new all the time. But there are certain aspects of it you want to go back to the way it was.”

He and Isaac aren’t intimidated by the larger chains that have more buying power, Piro said. He envisions a business where families feel comfortable to come in and get their health concerns addressed.

“We both worked in retail, and it was good to us,” he said. “But we wanted to do something different.”

Both speak Assyrian, which Piro said sets them apart in a city with a large Assyrian presence.

Though the pharmacy is in some ways a throwback, some aspects are decidedly modern: it has a Facebook page and is on Twitter and Instagram as TNV Pharmacy.

The pharmacy is set for a soft opening Monday, and a grand opening is tentatively set for May 8.

Now for what I don’t know:

Something apparently is going in at the former Raley’s site in Modesto’s Century Center. A sign in the window declares that it’s “just leased.”

I have heard rumors over the past few months on what might be planned for the site, but I haven’t been able to confirm anything. I called Brian Alt of Kimco, whose name and phone number are featured prominently on the sign.

He said if the site has been leased, “it’s news to me.”

The center has been without an anchor store since Raley’s closed its grocery store in 2012, following the closure of the Gottschalks department store in 2009.

But there could be good news ahead for Century Center. Alt said he has had more businesses express interest in the sites there in the past several weeks. He couldn’t elaborate, but said he hoped to have news for us within the next six months or so.

My final mystery involves the new addition at Crossroads shopping center in Riverbank.

Construction is underway, and I heard a rumor that an Outback Steakhouse was planned for that site. However, I checked with the folks at Outback’s corporate headquarters and they said that wasn’t the case. I also checked with folks at the city of Riverbank, who said no permits had been pulled for any specific restaurant yet.

I hope to learn more soon.

Have an item for Business Beat? Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter @PattyGuerra.