Biz Beat

Hampton Inn nearly done, now hiring in Turlock

The one thing we really needed last winter caused a headache for Jerral Brown: rain.

El Niño delivered to Northern California, parched after years of drought. But for Brown, project superintendent of the Hampton Inn under construction at Lander Avenue and Highway 99 in Turlock, the wet stuff caused a few hiccups.

“I guess I can’t complain about the rain, though,” he said with a chuckle.

The much-needed rain was a fairly minor hurdle compared with the economic recession of a few years ago.

“My family has had this property for eight or nine years,” said Guarav Deep Sethi, vice president of retail and development for Sethi Management Inc. “We were going to develop it, but then 2009 happened.”

Now, however, the economy is on the upswing in a big way, and the project is on track to open at the end of next month.

Sethi, who operates hotels from Fresno to Modesto, said the hotel business in the Northern San Joaquin Valley has really picked up in the past few years.

The 85-room Hampton Inn will be the only Hilton property between Merced and Modesto, said Sethi, whose family operates 13 hotels in all.

There is room in the front of the lot for retail and restaurant sites – Sethi said he is looking for interested businesses that might be a good fit. One building is almost finished and will be a doctor’s office, a branch of Baz Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center.

Sethi showed me some of the hotel’s features, including electric car chargers and solar panels on the roof. “It’s a very green property,” he said. Solar will account for about 40 percent of the hotel’s electricity.

Most of the big work is done. What’s left is the parking lot, landscaping and some of the last interior work, Sethi said as he showed me around.

“We do the public areas last,” he said, pointing out areas that will house a breakfast room, business center, reception desk and meeting room.

Also happening now is hiring. Sethi said he will need 25 to 30 full-time employees. Interviews will be conducted on site at the end of the month. Anyone interested in applying can call 760-652-4010 or email

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets has changed its name, but not by much. The company will now be known as The Save Mart Companies, according to a news release issued last week.

The change is designed to show the “collective strength of the corporate entity,” the company said in the release, noting that Save Mart owns and operates three distribution centers and SMART Refrigerated Transport, as well as grocery stores that include Save Mart, Lucky, FoodMaxx, S-Mart and MaxxValue locations.

Save Mart also is a partner in Super Store Industries, “which operates a distribution center in Lathrop and the Sunnyside Farms Dairies in Fairfield and Turlock,” the release said.

A new website,, is set to launch July 15.

And finally, more grocery store news:

Raley’s announced this week that it switched to a new vendor for its kitchen utensils. The stores now carry the Good Cook brand.

The good news is that the items the store still had on hand for its old brand, Chef Style, went to several charities.

More than 20,000 items, ranging from rolling pins to meat thermometers, went to food banks, high schools and a transitional living center in Sacramento.