Three Fresno restaurants have closed. More on staffing, bad reviews and a beloved favorite
There’s nothing quite like the disappointment of rolling up to a restaurant you’ve loved for years and seeing a “closed” sign on the door.
And now we’re going to risk contributing to that misery by telling you about three Fresno restaurants that have closed recently.
One is a big national fast food franchise. The other two are locally owned mom-and-pops, one of which has been around for decades.
Restaurants closing isn’t unusual. It’s part of the normal ebb and flow of any city’s food scene.
Last year, the Fresno area said goodbye to at least 18 restaurants. They closed for all kinds of reasons, not always because they couldn’t make it financially.
One closed because it couldn’t find enough workers, for example.
Here’s a look at which ones closed recently.
The Burger King on East Shaw Avenue near Fresno Street, not far from Fashion Fair mall, is boarded up. The doors are chained shut and there’s a “for lease” sign out front.
It’s not clear why exactly this location closed. Burger King did not return a message from The Bee. And a man associated with the company that owns the franchise declined to comment.
Customers have long complained about the location on review site Yelp.com. It averages a one-star rating over 115 reviews. Reviewers cite cold food, rudeness and slow service.
The restaurant had only minor violations in its latest health inspection, though its soft serve ice cream violated bacteria limits several times in recent years.
The Mediterranean Restaurant at Fresno Street and Gettysburg Avenue is a beloved longtime restaurant around since the 1990s. (Not to be confused with the Mediterranean Grill & Cafe downtown. That one is still open.)
The central Fresno restaurant was for sale back in November and has since closed.
The owner did not return messages seeking comment. Another restaurant appears to be getting ready to open in the space.
Many customers will remember the restaurant’s murals of Mediterranean scenes, and weekend performances by belly dancers.
Its menu featured Lebanese and other Mediterranean food. It served chicken and beef kebabs and shawarma, lamb, and a pilaf and garlic sauce that customers raved about.
Famous Ray’s Northside Deli
This little deli with a reputation for good food has closed after about three years.
Famous Ray’s Northside Deli is still catering, but has closed the sandwich shop at the northwest corner of Cedar and Barstow avenues that also sold chicken Parmesan, cannoli and meat and cheese by the pound.
It’s all because of staffing issues, said owner Debbie Harkness.
“I couldn’t keep anybody,” she said. “Any time I’d get enough people, they wouldn’t show up, they’d be late.”
It wasn’t the pay, she said. She always paid more than minimum wage, with some workers making more than $18.
Maybe it’s the “quiet quitting” trend, she said.
Or maybe it’s part of the “deep, profound shift” that The Washington Post recently reported on, detailing how service workers moved into office jobs with better pay and benefits during the pandemic.
At Famous Ray’s, the problem was compounded by the fact that the owner has two other jobs. She and her husband run an addiction treatment center. Harkness is also a licensed counselor who does assessments for attorneys in court cases statewide.
Because of those jobs, she couldn’t always be at the deli.
To deal with being short staffed, she cut the hours the deli was open. But that bit into an already slim profit margin, she said.
In the end, it was just too stressful to maintain the business, she said.
“I made it through Covid, but I couldn’t keep it open more than four days a week,” she said.
Neighboring business Boba Pub is taking over the space, with plans to open a chicken restaurant.