Article courtesy of: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/
Published on 04/09/2015
Written by Hannah Esqueda
The Elbow Room is marking its 60-year anniversary with several changes, including a new managing partner and an increased emphasis on the restaurant side of the brand.
For decades the business has been a staple of Fresno’s nightlife, offering customers a friendly place to dine while getting drinks. That identity has worked well in the past, but management now say they want the restaurant to be known for its great food options.
“Mike [Shirinian] and I have talked about it for a number of years and we’re interested in changing the identity to be known more for our food offerings,” said Randy McBride.
McBride has worked with owner Shirinian at the business for six years and was recently named managing partner in order to help bring about the transition at the Elbow Room. While the past few decades have seen the business evolve from its origin as a 10-stool bar, both partners now see the potential to develop a full-fledged restaurant.
Over the last few months, the duo have worked to restructure the kitchen and McBride said he brought San Francisco-trained Chef Eric Rodriguez to the business to help improve upon the restaurant’s classic dishes.
“Everything is being made from scratch now,” he said. “We’re really fine-tuning our food to get our best product out there to our guests.”
Even with the changes, the company’s focus will remain on farm-to-table comfort food, said Elizabeth Noble. Noble handles catering services for The Elbow Room and said the restaurant has no intentions of taking away from its signature selections such as the top sirloin steak sandwich.
While the rising price of beef would make this decision counterintuitive for other restaurants, management said The Elbow Room can’t afford not to stay the same.
“It’s what the Elbow Room is known for,” she said. “It accounts for about 40 percent of items ordered at the restaurant.”
In addition to updating its cooking style, Noble said the restaurant will soon be taking over banquet services for Sunnyside Country Club in southeast Fresno. The new catering deal will allow the restaurant to expand its reach and handle three to four parties a week, she said.
While the restaurant has long been equipped to handle banquets in-house, Noble said the catering service is something that has developed fairly recently.
She anticipates hiring 20 additional staff members for the catering side thanks to the Sunnyside partnership and said she will continue to work with clients to insure they have the banquet options they want for the price they want.
“It always starts with the guest,” Noble said. “Our bottom line is people coming through the door, not the revenue.”
McBride agreed and said that attitude has helped the restaurant stay in business through the decades.
“We constantly work the floor here. We’re not absentee owners,” he said. “We understand that our business is about building relationships with the customers.”
Join Culinary co-hosts Mike Shirinian and Dave Fansler as they discuss all things food and what’s trending in the restaurant industry. Prominent Fresno restaurant owners, Mike Shirinian and Dave Fansler are joining forces to co-host the Central Valley’s only live & local radio show dedicated to all things culinary.
Mike & Dave will cover everything from recipes to restaurant reviews to funny stories from the kitchen. Wine and entrees will be sampled. Hungry yet?
About Mike Shirinian
Mike has owned and operated the Elbow Room on Palm & Shaw in Fresno for over 20 years. Imagine visiting your favorite San Francisco-style steakhouse in the heart of California and you’ll experience The Elbow Room. From the day the doors first opened in 1955, The Elbow Room has been serving the best steak sandwich anywhere and it’s still the number one item on the menu today.
About Dave Fansler
Dave Fansler began in the restaurant industry in 1980 with the opening of Steak and Anchors and the soon to follow Wilikers. His continued success led to opening the Tahoe Joes. Today, Fansler owns and operates three institutions of fine local dining and cuisine from Yosemite Ranch to Pismo’s Coastal Grill and, his newest development, Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co.
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Fresno Restaurants Getting Face-Lifts
Elbow Room – Reprinted from Fresno Bee
The first is Elbow Room. It just re-upped its lease with Fig Garden Village for another 10 years and is remodeling.
The 58-year-old restaurant is staying open during its remodel, with workers redoing the walls and installing windows at night.
Customers have been signing walls, which will be soon covered up as part of the remodel.
But don't worry, says owner Mike Shirinian, it's still the same old Elbow Room. He took great pains to make sure it remains the old-school comforting San Francisco steak house-style restaurant that attracts both hip folks in their 50s and 60s and 20-somethings who like the retro feel.
He likened the changes to getting a new version of your favorite car.
“The new model is a little smoother, sleeker, but it's still the same kind of car you like,” he says.
Shirinian spent two years researching the look he wanted and toured restaurants in the Bay Area and Napa for inspiration.
That new look includes lots of mahogany trim and a mahogany bar, new bar stools and new booths. The walls will get a face-lift and they'll soon be a stainless steel wall near the pass-through window with a 1950s-inspired diamond-pattern design. Flat screen TVs will feature its wine list and photos of the weddings and banquets it can host.
On the patio, the Elbow Room's trademark cat leaning on a martini glass will soon appear in neon on the wall, along with some other minor upgrades.
Shirinian has pumped several hundred thousand dollars into the remodel, with lending from Fresno First Bank. The work will be finished in early August.