Biz Beat

What is that building under construction in central Modesto?

Sports Authority in Modesto appears headed for closure as its parent company could not find any buyers.
Sports Authority in Modesto appears headed for closure as its parent company could not find any buyers.

I have had several readers ask me what’s going into the shopping center on Prescott Road at Briggsmore Avenue. A standalone building is under construction in the parking lot of the center, which houses a Grocery Outlet and In Shape gym, among others.

A construction worker at the site told me it’s going to be a Taco Bell, information confirmed at the city of Modesto business office.

It does not seem that this restaurant will be one of the “Cantinas” the company is building in some areas, part of an effort to grab some of the quickly growing fast-casual market. What makes the Cantinas different from a typical Taco Bell is that they offer tapas dishes, meant to be shared among a crowd. Oh, and they serve alcohol.

Beer or wine with that beefy crunch burrito? Taco Bell is hoping that option will help the company make inroads on a market that is increasingly popular with the all-important millennial generation. It’s a tactic taken on by Starbucks, including some in the Modesto area, as we reported last year.

According to a Los Angeles Times story, the first of these kinds of Taco Bell restaurants opened late last year in Chicago and San Francisco. Others have been reported in cities as diverse as Fayetteville, Ark., and Austin, Texas. With 6,000 locations across the country now, Taco Bell has plans to add 2,000 stores in the next six years and build or remodel about 600 each year.

Mark Tanis, director of operations for of Ocat Inc., which runs Taco Bells in our area, said the Prescott location is a Taco Bell. “We hope to be completed sometime in mid-July,” Tanis said in an email. “We are excited to bring a new restaurant in Modesto for all our Taco Bell fans!”

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

After a few weeks of uncertainty, it looks like it’s the end for Sports Authority. The retailer, which operates a store on Standiford Avenue at McHenry Avenue, recently declared bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy came with an announcement that the parent company would be closing 140 stores and hoped to sell at least some of the remainder. But The Associated Press reported this week that those efforts failed and Sports Authority would close all 400 locations.

The Englewood, Colo.-based company plans to complete sales and close by the end of August, the AP reported.

And finally, Hauck’s Grill celebrated its grand opening in Turlock on May 13.

Prior to that, the restaurant, which I profiled earlier this year, had a soft opening, pretty normal for a new business. The idea is to get staff trained and used to serving before announcing a big opening. Well, Hauck’s used the opportunity to raise money for local athletic departments.

According to marketing director Morgan Aue, Hauck’s collected donations of $10 at the door. That translated into donations of $2,500 to California State University, Stanislaus, and $2,000 each to Turlock Christian, Turlock High School and Pitman High School.