OAKHURST — A local dining establishment is taking on a fresh name for a new era, as the place formerly known as Yosemite Gateway Restaurant formally transforms into Oakhurst Grill and Whiskey 41 Lounge.
General Manager Christian Guizar says the community is invited to come out for a special grand re-opening on Saturday, Mar. 24 in honor of the news. The fun starts at 11 a.m. and families are encouraged to bring the kids to have their picture drawn by a caricature artist, listen to some music, and celebrate. The ribbon-cutting starts at 12:30 p.m.
Later on that night when the kids are tucked in, Oakhurst Grill and Whiskey 41 Lounge will feature drink specials, new menu items and more great music. Christian’s background includes comedy as well as restaurants, and he was a long-time manager at Bobby Salazar’s in Clovis. In addition to featuring top-notch musical talent, the Lounge will continue to play host to comedians and other entertainers.
The renewal began a year ago exactly, when Christian started work as GM for Gilbert and Delores Ghyselinck, who built the restaurant in 1982. They said Christian could make whatever changes he wanted, with one important caveat: if it doesn’t work out in one year — the space occupied by the restaurant would be turned into hotel rooms, and Christian would be out of a job.
Now, things are working out just as they planned. Chef Justin Garcia has revamped the menu and, together with Christian, they’ve designed and created new dishes for the opening of Oakhurst Grill. This is the first time Christian has worked closely with a chef this way, and he relished the process.
Sadly, Gilbert passed away, but not before he had the pleasure of hearing locals talk about the turnaround of the restaurant in its early stages.
Formerly a manager at Crab Cakes under Roman Zabiki, Christian appreciates the feeling that the whole town is behind the new venture at Oakhurst Grill. He says they wanted to give people a great new place to eat, with a dining and entertainment experience that caters to locals — “another place to call home.”
“We’re open to the community, and we’re going to create some family nights,” Christian says, outlining plans for the future. “We want people to know it’s a family-friendly place to a certain point and then — a late night bar, lounge, comedy, and music. ”
St. Patrick’s Day was a successful one for the restaurant, with record-breaking sales and more than 300 people served, Christian notes. Good food, good music by Sugar Pine and Dave Klatt, and good people all made for a great combination.
Not everything has changed — Dene Seal remains as the well-informed and gracious Manager of the whiskey bar, where choices include Oakhurst Spirits craft whiskey, among others. Speaking of locals, Christian moved up here to the foothills last November.
Oakhurst Grill wants to place emphasis on working with the community — as evidenced by recent events including the Lovers Masquerade Ball in February to benefit the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club, and the Wildland Firefighters Auction, held earlier this month.
“We want to be a part of the community, and not just that business on the side,” Christian says. “If there are clubs and events that we are not already hosting –we aren’t afraid of trying anything new. ”
Anyone interested in booking can contact Christian at Oakhurst Grill. In the meantime, comedian Dave Bressoud takes the stage on Saturday, Mar. 31.
Oakhurst Grill and Whiskey 41 Lounge are SNO community partners.