Three popular valley restaurant, including some longtime favorites, are making big changes this fall.
In downtown Modesto, the newly opened Food Fix Butcher & Baker on 11th Street has already become a hot lunch spot since opening in August. On Friday, they celebrated their grand opening and expansion to their full lunch and dinner hours. The restaurant is now open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday (closed Sunday).
The new dinner hours will take advantage of the restaurant’s large bar, which has 20 taps serving local craft beer and more. Food Fix husband-and-wife team Hank and Ashley Olson have increased the staff from a baker’s dozen to close to two dozen now with the longer hours.
The dinner and later-night menu will include the full selection of sandwiches and salads, but also expand to more bistro options like light pasta dishes and small plates and well as charcuterie boards. The kitchen will be open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, later on the weekends.
The restaurant has also added a limited selection of meal prep grab-and-go options, starting with grill chicken breast and quinoa salad. All the bread that Ashley Olson bakes fresh every morning is available for sale by the loaf or in rolls to take home, as are some of the house-made garnishes like pickles and relishes. And day-old focaccia loaves are half off.
The Food Fix food truck, which started it all in 2015, has largely been off the road and only available for special events since the restaurant opened. But they hope to have it back on the road soon.
“It’s been really, really cool to be part of the downtown and feel the vibe here,” said Ashley Olson. “We’re excited how things are going.”
Right next door to Food Fix, Barkin Dog Grill has contracted its hours. The restaurant has stopped its regular dinner service and will now only be open for lunch. The menu of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches will remain largely the same.
The restaurant was first opened in 2004 by Hanibal Yadegar and his wife, Evin. Since then, it has become known for hosting live music weekly and has become a magnet for local artists. The place was often brimming over with people on its music nights Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
But Hanibal said the death of his wife, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in February 2017, has made him focus on his family. He also said it has been increasingly difficult to hire and keep staff, particularly for his night crew.
So the long hours that restaurant ownership demands took their toll. Hanibal ultimately decided that he needed time off to take care of his 11-year-old son.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I feel like I’m letting artists and musicians down by not being open in the evenings for them anymore. My wife and I used to say that if nothing came out of this restaurant than being able to meet all these wonderful people and artists, it would still be worth it.”
Barkin’ Dog will still be open at least three nights a month, for regularly scheduled artists events including its Second Tuesday poetry nights, Wine Wednesday and the Third Thursday Art Walk jam night. The restaurant will also be available in the evenings to host special events and private parties.
The Barkin’ Dog isn’t the first downtown restaurant to suspend its dinner service in the past year. Last October, Harvest Moon on I Street switched to a largely breakfast and lunch only schedule.
And finally, the China Cafe in Turlock — one of the city’s longest continuously running family-owned Chinese food spots — has closed.
Like with the Barkin’ Dog, owner Cue Tan said family was behind her decision to shutter after nearly 25 years in business. The closure came on the heels of a month-long vacation where the restaurant was shuttered in September.
Tan’s parents, father Zhong Yu Tan and mother Xue Zhen Qiu, opened the restaurant when she was in grade school in 1995. It remained in the same small 1,100-square-foot space in a shopping center on Geer and Tuolumne roads the entire time.
Known for its garlic chicken, the restaurant built up a loyal following over the years, particularly around its take-out business. About six years ago, Tan’s parents retired. Since then, she and her husband, Chiming Zhang, had run the business together along with two other full-time employees.
But the couple has two young children at home — 8 months and 3 years old — and 30-year-old Tan said the rigors of running the restaurant were too much.
“It is with a heavy heart we have to shut down like this,” Tan said. “We have a lot of loyal clientele coming for so many years. I want to thank the support from all the customers who made it possible to be in Turlock and stay open for so long.”
But Tan is looking for a buyer for the restaurant who can take over their lease. Interested parties should contact the family at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChinaCafeTurlock.