Biz Beat

New, unique bars coming to downtown Modesto promising cocktails, haircuts, tequila

Raise a glass, Modesto. Or, better yet, raise several. Three new, very different bars will be opening downtown in coming months.

Downtown Modesto’s bar scene is expanding with the addition of Lo-Fi on J Street, Blades & Bottles on 15th Street and Maestro’s Tequila Bar on 10th Street. The three establishments will all specialize in different drinks and distinct atmospheres.

Lo-Fi, next to Chefs of New York, will be a craft cocktail lounge. Owner Lauren Jamieson, a former chocolatier who also cooked in New Orleans for a while, was inspired by the brunch drinks in the Big Easy. Her bar will make its own syrups, garnishes and cherries for a start. Her intention is to showcase the American cocktail, dating back to before Prohibition to the Tiki-bar era and beyond.

“It’s really to celebrate and offer all of the variety of cocktails that America has invented. It’s really a part of our culture,” she said.

Jamieson and a business partner hope to have the cocktail bar up and running a little later this year.

AA Maestro's Tequilla Bar2

Next, along 15th Street around the corner from Dewz, will be Blades & Bottles. The unique barbershop and bar combo will offer customers a cut and a cocktail all at once. Owner Allison Dowdy is still looking for stylists to work in the salon. An opening date has not been set yet, but is expected in the near future.

And then, at the corner of 10th and I streets and catty-corner from the Gallo Center, will be Maestro’s Tequila Bar. A business license has just been pulled for the new establishment. No additional information is available yet, but it will be a welcome addition to the revitalization of the once mostly vacant block that now includes Monsoon Indian restaurant, three banquet halls, a cinnamon roll bakery and upcoming fitness center.

It would be Modesto’s first exclusive tequila bar. Similar businesses, Memo’s Cocina & Tequila Bar in downtown Turlock and Agave Azul Kitchen & Tequila Bar in Hughson, have done well in the area since opening.

The trio of bars also mark a resurgence of downtown Modesto nightlife. Dedicated bars — which are different from restaurants with bars attached — are few and far between downtown. Speakeasy Lounge and Che’root Cigar Lounge are the only existing establishments in the several block radius that don’t also serve food.

It remains to be seen whether these new additions will bring back the downtown’s bustling nightlife scene of throughout much of the early 2000s when several popular bars and nightclubs dotted the area.

AA Maestro's Tequilla Bar3
Andy Alfaro

Elsewhere on the Business Beat:

Sure, school is already in full swing, but the need for supplies never ends.

Hands-On Educational Supply in the McHenry Village is there to help and celebrate 30 years in business this month. The educational supply store has merchandise for teachers, parents and students alike. Each day in October, the store will run specials and be handing out complimentary chocolate treats to customers.

The shop opened 30 years ago in the “little red schoolhouse” in Turlock. It opened the McHenry Village location in 2005. Owner Debbie Robillard said the shop has been able to thrive for three decades thanks to its “wonderful customers” and she wanted to show her gratitude with the month-long celebration.

Hands-On Educational Supply is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at 1700 McHenry Ave. Suite 30. For more information call 209-491-2937 or visit

Marijke Rowland: 209-578-2284, @marijkerowland