Biz Beat

Ralston’s Goat wants supper club to become downtown Modesto draw

The folks at downtown Modesto’s Ralston’s Goat are betting countless date nights can’t be wrong.

Dinner and a show is getting an upgrade thanks to the restaurant’s Supper Club Thursday Night. The once-monthly events have been going on since late last year. But Ralston’s Goat General Manager Mike Shelton said he wanted to focus on building up the evenings this year. Held the first Thursday in each month, the nights include live music and comedy featuring award-winning Modesto singer-songwriter Earl Matthews of Poorhouse Millionaires and Big Earl & The Cryin’ Shame fame.

“I lived in San Francisco for a long time and I had these places that did supper clubs I would go to,” Shelton said. “I loved the whole idea of it all.”

Food is not currently included in the supper club, but then there isn’t any admission fee right now either. The entertainment runs from 8 to 11 p.m. with no cover. Down the road, Shelton said he hopes to add special menus for the evenings. For now, the restaurant’s full menu from Ralston’s Executive Chef Gil Alfaro is available.

The main dining hall, which can seat about 85, is reconfigured around the entertainment for the supper club. The evening is hosted by comedian Felicia Aleman, who also happens to be Matthews’ girlfriend. The rest of the lineup includes local performers and comics as well as touring musicians and artists.

The supper club started out on Wednesday nights but moved to Thursdays to draw more people into the main dining area. The restaurant, which opened two years ago at the corner of J and 10th streets, regularly hosts live music and events in the downtown area. Its Sunday brunch, known for loaded Bloody Marys and bottomless mimosas, is already a popular draw on the eatery’s bar side.

“We want to build this event up from once a month,” Shelton said. “We’re excited what it can become.”

The restaurant also recently changed the mural on the side of its building, from a black-and-white portrait of a local homeless man, to a colorful scene of a bee pollinating an almond blossom. The business’ name as a whole is a riff on a rejected city slogan, “Nobody’s Got Modesto’s Goat.” Yeah, imagine that hanging over I Street instead of the “Water Wealth Contentment Health” on the Modesto arch. The other half of the name comes from the claim that the city was almost called “Ralston,” after San Francisco businessman William Ralston. But valley lore says he declined the honor, which led us to become “Modesto” instead after his modesty.

The Supper Club Thursday Night returns from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at Ralston’s Goat, 1001 10th St. For more information, call 209-549-9413 or visit