Biz Beat

Downtown Modesto site changes again; Latin restaurant to open with ‘heavenly’ fare

The fiesta may be over, but heaven awaits for this downtown Modesto location.

After closing last year, the short-lived Mangos Fiesta Mexicana restaurant will now be replaced with the new Latin eatery Santo Cielo, which roughly translates to “good heavens” in Spanish. New owner Eduin Gallon said he plans to serve a mix of Mexican and South American food, including dishes from his native Colombia.

The change marks another chapter for the building, which has had as many lives as your proverbial cat. For years, the three-story structure on J Street next door to Ralston’s Goat housed the Royal Hotel, which closed in the early 1990s. Since then, the prominent building has been a pool hall called Pockets, a gym called Downtown Fitness and then a Christian bookstore called Theopolis. In 2002, it transitioned into the nightclub The Blue Tattoo, which turned into Ibiza, which then was reopened in 2005 as Modesto’s Sports Bar & Grill.

The latter closed about six years ago, and the space was vacant until it reopened in 2017 as 29 Degrees Sports Bar & Grill. But that Hooters-like concept, complete with skimpy outfits for the waitstaff, didn’t work, and a year later, 29 Degrees general manager Alex Aguilar was back with a new concept, Mangos Fiesta Mexicana. The Mexican eatery offered over-the-top offerings like the “Cerveza Loka,” a tray of canned beer that came smothered in hot sauce, shrimp, cucumber and more.

But that concept also failed to connect, and Mangos shuttered last year. Gallon took over the lease last November and plans to do some cosmetic renovations to the lighting, booths and decor before reopening this spring, possibly as early as late April.

The menu will include Mexican and South America fare for dinner, and then later in the evening will switch to appetizers and other small plates for the bar crowd. Gallon is working on obtaining an entertainment license to be able to bring in live music and folkloric dancing.

Gallon has been in the restaurant industry for more than 25 years, including in Colombia and San Jose. He still owns a restaurant in San Jose, but said he wanted to relocate to the Central Valley because he has family here and the cost of living is lower.

He expects to hire about a dozen people, from bartenders to waiters and cooks. So keep an eye on this building as it starts its next life.

Elsewhere on the Business Beat:

Consider the Oakdale Ace Hardware a real fowl-weather friend.

Ted the Pet Duck got some love and sure housing recently with a little help from the Oakdale hardware store. Katherine Setliff, whose family owns the store, reached out to Ted’s owner, Oakdale resident Lydia Fields, after reading about Ted’s recent escape and running afowl of the law.

Setliff gave Fields a padlock for her gate, to keep Ted from having more squad-car adventures. And the store also plans to provide the neighbors a new kiddie pool when the weather gets warmer, as Ted has taken over their old one.

“We’re just trying to keep Ted out of hot water,” Setliff said. “And keep him in nice pool water.”

A pet duck was rescued Thursday after getting out of his yard in Oakdale, Calif. But it wasn’t the first time Ted created a mystery. He arrived in an Oakdale back yard in sudden fashion late last year.

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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