Specializing in farm-to-table dining, craft beers and local wines, the new restaurant Guri’s Grubhouse and Taps near the corner of Shaw and Cedar avenues is projected to open this week, taking over the space previously occupied by Fajita Fiesta.
Guri’s GrubHouse, or GrubHouse as it is soon to be known, is named after Fresno County raisin and grape grower Guri Bhangoo, who along with several of his associates in the farming and restaurant communities came together for this gastrological experiment in Fresno.
“Nobody else in Fresno is like us,” said operating partner Aneel Bhangoo. “You don’t hear any other place locally sourcing food from the growers, working with the rural agricultural community, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. We’re full of agriculture here.”
You could throw a rock in any direction and hit a farm, and so with that we are hoping to bring the agricultural community back to Fresno.”
One of the first such restaurants in Fresno, chef Andy Hatcher’s menu focuses on a partnership with local farmers, incorporating fresh products including grapes, peaches, raisins, and almonds. He also plans to evolve his menu accordingly as the seasons change: no tomatoes in winter here.
Hatcher, known locally for his work at Parma, an Italian restaurant in Fresno, described his menu as “California comfort food with a twist, taking really simple things and messing them up.” This includes his own take on grilled cheese, “tachos”, chicken and waffles, as well as local favorites like tri-tip, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and thin crust pizzas.
The GrubHouse will be partnering with Fresno State for several of its products, including salami, sausage, and other cuts from the Fresno State meat processing facility, and will also have a selection of wines from the Fresno State enology department.
“I am excited to see Guri’s commitment to local foods and look forward to having a nearby restaurant where enology students can show off their wines,” said Kevin Smith, business and marketing manager at the Fresno State Winery. “We are looking forward to highlighting our wines there.”
Guri, who serves on the Ag One Foundation and is a Fresno State alumnus, is looking forward to the collaboration.
“I am very tied with Fresno State and I want to promote them,” Guri said. “We want to pride and showcase what has grown here in the valley and hope to do that within these four walls here.”
Hatcher also collaborated with seven Fresno State students on a six-acre plot on campus for growing vegetables.
Whether brining, smoking, curing, or pickling, nearly every product that goes into the GrubHouse kitchen must be prepared in some way locally, this an attempt to remain authentic to the food and the community to which they serve.
“Just the whole thought of going to a farmers market, getting cheese that was made 20 miles from here, or buying milk and not going to the supermarket,” said Hatcher. “When you go and talk to these farmers you get a story, you get the craftsmanship. It’s real.”
With 24 beers on tap and an additional 30 to 40 in bottles, as well as a collection of local wines featured from Paso Robles and the Sierra Foothills, the bar at the heart of the gastropub will provide a wide selection of beverages.
Michael Jew, owner of the popular college restaurant Swiggs on Shaw Avenue and Sixth Street, has lent his restaurateur experience for Guri’s GrubHouse. He remembers avidly the 7,200 square foot building’s history.
“Back in the late ‘80s, when Guri and some of our other investors were younger, this was a place called Willikers, which was the college spot,” Jew said. “We’re taking the old hot spot and maturing it, making a place for them to enjoy now, getting people to revisit the old college days.”
Guri’s GrubHouse is set to open on September 11, serving lunch and dinner, and will be open Sundays for brunch featuring bottomless mimosas and a lunchtime student special.