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Foodies in the Tower District and beyond had been waiting anxiously for the next restaurant from the brothers Palomino. Creators of the uber-chic boite 609 Grille, the brothers recently opened their new venture, the aptly named Palomino's, next to the Tower Theatre.
The restaurant opened two months ago, with a menu inspired by chef Paul Palomino's trips to Spain and Italian influences.
"We had changed the menu to a whole different menu in the beginning," explained Carl Palomino, who along with his brothers John and Paul, manages the restaurants. "And then people came in and were upset because they wanted the 609 menu."
So many of the 609 favorites are back, with new California cuisine and Spanish and Italian fusion additions.
"It was about time for him to reinvent himself," Carl said of his brother. "Every restaurant I think every four or five years needs to do something different."
Palomino's has changed more than just the menu. Where 609 Grille was dark and intimate, Palomino's is much larger, with a light Mediterranean décor and a full-sized bar. The patio out back will host warm-weather dining and after hours events, like hothouse, the new house music night by DJ Bradley.
"We used to buy flowers from Kiku Floral," Carl recounts. Kiku occupied the space where Palomino's is. "Paul took me back to the patio one day and we said. Oh this would be great.'"
The location is probably best known as Java Café, a coffee house popular in the 1990's.
The Palomino family has a long history in the Fresno restaurant business.
"This is like third generation family that's been in the restaurant business. Our grandfather and great grandfather had places on the west side. Las Palmas was one of them," explained Carl. While Las Palmas is long gone, 609 Grille is still with us. Contrary to reports of the brothers selling the restaurant, they have plans to reopen as a Nuevo Latino restaurant.
Carl says they were "considering selling but are going to change the menu." Items on the Nuevo Latino menu will include things like Chicken Mole California and the Sizzling Tostada, which is served with lettuce, cheese, beans, and sizzling meat.
The three brothers all talk about the recipes, but Paul is the one doing the cooking. "We all do everything. I'll wait on tables or bartend; I'll help Paul with the policies and procedures; getting licenses," said Carl.
The Tower District lost a few businesses to the north side of town last year, but Carl says the Palominos have no intention of moving. He says the majority of their business comes from the Van Ness/Fig Garden area.
"It think a lot of our roots are here; I mean we grew up not too far from here. My brother John still lives in the house we grew up in. We were thinking about going to the north side, but its really expensive, and we know all the people down here already. We're comfortable in the Tower."