Jul 20, 2019
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CArtHop creates artsy downtown eating experience

CArtHop is the child of Fresno’s booming ArtHop experience.

This lunchtime hotspot was sparked by a need to refresh downtown Fresno. This event differs from traditional ArtHop activities in that vendors bring their products to the mall by cart.

Each Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it brings local businesses, eateries and artists to a spot in Fulton Mall in front of the Fresno Brewing Company.

CArtHop is still a fairly new addition to the revitalization effort in downtown Fresno, which includes the Fulton Mall. The weekly event is meant to bring more visitors into the downtown area to experience locally grown foods and promote Fresno businesses.

“It’s all local,” said Liz Sanchez, owner of Casa de Tamales. “Either locally grown food, sometimes organic, or local businesses that take part.”

Each week offers different kinds of foods and brings a new mix of artists and musicians to the mall for a fresh experience each time.

Sanchez said she was excited for her two-year-old restaurant to be a part of CArtHop, but wants to see more companies involved.

“We’d love to get more food vendors out there,” Sanchez said. “More artists would be great as well.”

Sanchez encourages everyone to visit CArtHop.

Casa de Tamales is located in northwest Fresno, which makes it different from other businesses mainly based near downtown, but Sanchez said the exposure from CArtHop helps her business reach more people.

“Everyone leaves here with a menu,” Sanchez said. “We get people from CArtHop to our restaurant within seven days.”

Dustin Stewart, co-owner of Dusty Buns Bistro, aims to have vendors at CArtHop certified organic and/or local. Stewart said Dusty Buns, Casa de Tamales, Mattie’s Wood-fired Pizza and Summertime Pies are the regular food vendors at the event.

In addition to the variety of food offered at CArtHop, musicians and performers take part in the festivities as well to attract more customers and add to the ambiance.

Musician Tommy Keys was asked to entertain at CArtHop.

“I jumped at the opportunity and was honored to be a part of it,” Keys said.

Keys, a Fresno native, said he began his career as a street musician 15 years ago and that the atmosphere of CArtHop reminded him of his earlier days as a performer.

“I loved the experience on a personal level,” Keys explained. “It took me back to when I used to play on the streets almost 10 years ago.”

Keys said he heard about CArtHop through Facebook and was drawn to it because it was all local vendors, artists and musicians working together to show the community what they have to offer.

Stewart said bringing all those businesses to one central location is key to revitalizing downtown.

“It’s about building our community,” Stewart said.

A majority of the crowd consists of businessmen and women on their lunch breaks, but Keys said that when he performed, there was a bit of a mixed crowd of “all types of people from the business professionals in suits to Tower folks.”

“There was definitely a large crowd,” Keys said. “It seriously felt like I was playing in Fashion Fair Mall on a Saturday afternoon.”

For Keys, it is intimate opportunities like CArtHop that build his passion for music.

“This is the first local event I’ve played outside,” Keys said. “I’ve been making music for almost half of my life.”

Like Sanchez, Keys urged all Fresnans to visit CArtHop, even if they’re not from the immediate area.

“The vibe in the area was great,” Keys said. “If they like food, eating and art, they should go see what their own city has to offer.”

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