The Howlin ‘Wolf, Tower’s last bar and concert hall, could open by the end of September. Sixty photo frames await photos depicting the history of Fresno. Photo via Instagram
Written by Edward Smith
The Tower District’s newest craft cocktail bar hopes to put local musicians center stage when it opens next month.
The owners of The Howlin Wolf wanted to bring something new to the historic entertainment district, said Craig Johnson, president of Beards & Beer, the company that owns The Howlin Wolf. The partnership also owns and operates Goldstein’s Mortuary and Delicatessen in the Tower District.
The partners are Scott Miller, owner of Gazebo Gardens and president of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Wolpert, real estate agent; and Scott Schapansky, a local dentist. They want to showcase local musicians like they do at Goldstein.
The Howlin Wolf will feature an “appropriate stage,” Johnson said – elevated and with a full amplification system. In addition, they contracted with sound engineers to organize the space so that recording in a concert hall sounds good.
Johnson said it had always been part of their vision to make a “Live from Goldstein’s” album, but now it has become “Live from The Howlin Wolf”.
The goal was to make the location historic even though it is brand new, Johnson said. They adorn the walls with historic photos of Fresno, but he doesn’t want to be limited to old photos of the courthouse. He’s appealing to people who maybe have old photos that people haven’t seen before, and he’s already picked up a few. He has 60 frames to fill, he said.
The bar is Art Deco style and the island style bar has a ‘Cheers’ vibe where patrons can sit and see people on the other side.
An entrepreneur himself, Johnson also did the work at Goldstein.
“It’s fun when you’re your own customer,” Johnson said. “Nobody tells you ‘you can’t do this.'”
They will have a full liquor bar with wine on draft, but not as much beer as Goldstein’s. They will offer 10 signature cocktails as well as standards such as Old Fashioneds and Negronis, but with a touch of originality. True to the historic motif, Johnson hopes to bring back some cocktails that have fallen in popularity over the years.
“Everyone is improving their cocktail game in Fresno, so you don’t want to be left behind,” Johnson said.
They combined two different suites at 920 E. Olive Ave. near Deli Delicious to reach just over 36,000 square feet. Automatic fire extinguishers are installed and the job is 95% complete. They just need their license to be terminated. Johnson hopes to be open by the end of August, but says the end of September will be more realistic. They will be open seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
A new Indian restaurant with a slightly different approach to the way it serves food will open in Northwest Fresno. The owners of King Indian hope to open August 15 at the El Paseo Marketplace near Sally Beauty Supply, co-owner Mohit Kumar said. Kumar opens the restaurant with his brother, Samadjit Singh, who both own and operate their own trucking business. The full service restaurant will serve food differently from most Indian restaurants. King Indian will be organized as a buffet, almost like a Panda Express, Kumar said.
Most of the recipes come from Family Dishes as well as their cousin, who operates five restaurants in LA The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The second location of the ramen restaurant operated by a familiar name will open in the market square in El Paseo. Ramen Hayashi owner Jason Lin of Lin Restaurant Group is targeting a spring 2022 opening near the new Regal Cinemas.
They make custom ramen bowls as well as chicken bowls and salads when it’s too hot for soup, Lin said.
Ramen Hayashi’s goal was to provide gourmet cuisine at an affordable price. The original plan was to open another Hino Oishi at the site, but that was before the pandemic. It would have required twice as much space and twice as many employees. But, at 4,000 square feet, that will be almost double the other location on Herndon and Fowler avenues. Other restaurants for Lin Restaurant Group include JPot and Spicy J’s – both in the River Park Mall, Lin’s Fusion on Blackstone Avenue near Shaw Avenue as well as Hino Oishi at Campus Pointe near Fresno State.
“We’re really excited that this side of town is as successful as the other place on the other side of town,” said Lin.