Well, Pancho Villa is riding off into the sunset, darn it.
One of my favorite little spots in Modesto is closing. Gourmet Fresh Deli-licious, which has occupied a space tucked inside a Ninth Street gasoline station for three years, will shut down at the end of the month.
Owner Aurelia Garcia, who runs the deli with daughter Luz Gutierrez, said she has been putting off foot surgery for several months. “I kept thinking, ‘I can do it a little longer,’ ” she said. “We didn’t really want to close, but we have to.”
The deli makes several sandwiches, including a popular turkey version called “Gimme the Bird.” Customers had a lot of jokes about that one, Garcia said. “One man went back to his office and said this was the first time he had gotten the bird and liked it.”
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But it’s the Pancho Villa panini that has developed a near cultlike following. This bit of fiery wonderfulness is made with chicken, pepper cheese, jalapeño sauce, tomatoes and lettuce on sliced sourdough, with an option for more jalapeño peppers.
Customers – two of them while I was there last week – have been lamenting the loss of the Pancho Villa since Garcia announced the closure.
Like its namesake, the sandwich is going out with a bang. On the deli’s last day, Feb. 26, Garcia and Gutierrez will be giving away free Pancho Villas to all comers as long as they last.
“For our longtime customers, it’s a chance to have it one last time,” Garcia said. “And for people who have never had one, now’s your only chance.”
There is some good news for fans of the business. Gutierrez, who makes the deli’s tasty and beautiful desserts, will keep baking. She is getting a cottage business license to operate out of her home.
“I’ve already gotten some orders for after we close,” she said.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
I’ve had a few people ask me what’s happening at Monte Vista Crossings in Turlock. A look at the space just south of the most recently developed spot makes it pretty clear there are more retail businesses coming. Grading has been going on steadily for the past couple of weeks. And while I can’t tell you what they are – yet – I can tell you when they will be opening: hopefully in time for the 2016 holiday season, according to Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for economic development and housing.
The shopping center was sold near the end of 2015. Hall Equities Group, which owned it, sold it to a San Diego-based company called Excel Realty Trust. It’s a bit complicated, a representative of Retail California told me. Retail California is the leasing agent the new owner is using to fill spots in Monte Vista Crossings.
However, Hall is responsible for leasing the sites in Phase II, which is what’s being built now. Retail California is handling leasing in the present center.
As soon as I hear specifics from any of the above, I will let you know.
And, finally, there’s a free event aimed at facilities engineers and managers, energy managers, green-building professionals, contractors and architects coming up in Modesto. According to a news release, the Central Valley Facilities/Managing Green Buildings Expo and Conference is the only annual event of its kind in the Central Valley.
Free seminars will include sessions on water efficiency, energy-efficient lighting, predictive maintenance, solar PV systems, arc flash safety and roofing systems.