Biz Beat

This new Modesto restaurant takes ringing the bell for service seriously

You don’t have to wake up early like a farmer to eat like one in Modesto anymore.

The city’s first Farmer Boys restaurant opened just before Christmas on Prescott Road, just off the Briggsmore freeway exit. The eatery is part of a largely West Coast chain that specializes in burgers, sandwiches, salads and all-day breakfasts fit for a hungry farmer and family. It is also the first Farmer Boys opened by the busy Modesto-based Armenta family, who own 27th restaurant franchises across the region ranging from El Pollo Loco to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Baja Fresh.

Partnering on the new Modesto Farmer Boys are Rafael Armenta Jr. and his uncle Rene Armenta, who built the restaurant from the ground up in the site of the old Teriyaki King. The new building seats close to 100 and has a drive-thru for you eaters on the go.

Armenta Jr. said he has wanted to open a Farmer Boys in the area since 2008, but then the recession hit. Two Farmer Boys have opened in surrounding cities since, one in Ceres and one in Riverbank. The chain’s emphasis on fresh ingredients is what attracted him to the concept.

“It’s like a typical diner, but on steroids with better products and better price points,” he said. “There are a lot of options for people when they come in. I’m in this business for the food quality and this is a healthy product.”

Besides burgers and other lunch and dinner fare, the restaurant offers made-to-order breakfasts from hot cakes to French toast, omelets and breakfast burritos. Burgers start at about $6.99 and a three-egg breakfast with choice of meat, hash browns and toast comes in at $7.99. For those looking for lighter fare, the salads are more than enough for dinner and run $8.99.

There’s no freezer on site, so all the vegetables are chopped fresh each day — from the zucchini for the crispy zucchini sticks (about the size of a small billy club) to the onions for the hand-dipped onion rings (which are equally outsized).

“There’s a lot of crying in the back when we have to cut those (onions) each day,” Armenta Jr. joked.

One thing they aren’t joking about is their customer service. The restaurant opened with a staff of about 50 and there’s even a bell customers can ring on their way out if they were happy with the service. It rang no less than four times in the hour I was there, each one greeted back with an enthusiastic group cheer by the staff.

The Farmer Boys at 1701 Prescott Road is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information call 209-408–0735 or visit

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Modesto card and collectible shop Hero’s Vault has moved. Last month the store, which had been in Roseburg Square since April, relocated less than a mile away to 1100 Carver Road.

The shop has downsized in its new space, so it no longer has a gaming area. But it still sells comics, toys, cards, miniatures, paints, games and more. The store is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday in Suite 4 of the shopping center near the corner of Carver and Roseburg avenues. For more information call 209-312-9738 or visit