Trelio Restaurant reopens in Clovis

Ponderosa pine interior, menu highlights Old Town opening

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After closing just after New Years and a full-scale remodel nearing completion, chef and Clovis restauranteur Chris Shackelford is ready to reinvent Trelio Restaurant, January 27, 2017.

With a brand new interior of custom designed and manufactured local Ponderosa pine food grade tables, paneling, wine cabinets and bar, Trelio is ready to open their doors and serve a new menu

Opening in 2006 as an upscale, fine dining establishment on Clovis Avenue in Old Town Clovis,  Trelio has evolved from regional american cuisine that not only represents the locally grown and produced bounty  of the San Joaquin Valley, but also the changing food interests of the Fresno area and its owner.

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Trelio sous chef Thomas Stempien, left, and chef Chris Shackelford chat in the kitchen during dinner prep on re-opening night, Jan. 27, 2017.

And, while the central Valley’s dining options continue to expand and contract, often between the whims, perception and the harsh realities of economics, Trelio has been a stabilizing force in the Clovis dining scene even as owner and chef Chris Shackelford adjusted to both his and patrons’ expectations and desires.

“(In the beginning), we slowly migrated from being the ‘French Laundry’ of the central Valley to being more of a farm-to-table restaurant and comprehensive dining option in a European style,” Shackelford said. “That being said, we also enjoy the ties to regional cuisine of America.”

Trelio’s is food and wine centric. Every entrée and small dish they create is from scratch, including baking their own bread. As the restaurant has evolved and grown, owner  and patrons alike place an emphasis on cooking, food and wine pairings.

“There are a lot of correlations between our menu and the wine offerings as well as correlations between the wine list and the food we serve,” Shackelford said. Styles and ingredients may change but our core is European.

“The food is a mix being that I have a French core technique, but we create homemade pasta dishes, seafood, steaks, wild game to tapas dishes that might be found in Barcelona,” Shackelford continued. “Heck, nothing is off-limits. We might even offer a Mexican dish or even offer Armenian or Persian.

And as the San Joaquin Valley has such a diversity of people and culture that have made the area one of the greatest agricultural industries in the world, Trelio has made it a point to be relevant and reflect that diverse cuisine with a distinctly European flair.

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The new Trelio dining room is completely refurbished with Ponderosa pine tables, banquettes, paneling and a new bar milled from Sierra foothills trees above North Fork.

However, Shackelford and the new Trelio is adjusting its focus even as the chef and owner battles complacency in and out of the kitchen. He said he needed to change things up and began to change the menu about a year ago.

“We decided to shift the restaurant in what I believe to be the trending style to smaller plates, less expensive dinners,” he said. “We’ve basically been doing much the same for the last 11 years and decided to shift our focus.”

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Trelio used many of the 70 dead Ponderosa pine trees from Jim Shackelford’s (Chris’ father) property to form the furnishings in the restaurant, including the tables.

When the Shackelford brothers opened the restaurant in 2006, Chris quit his job and jumped in. This time he wanted to be more methodical in his vision for Trelio.

“I’ve been planning (changes) now for about six months with construction going on for about three months (furniture being built, etc.),” he said. “We are losing a few tables as part of a quality issue. We want to be full every night, keep our costs under control (food, staff) and be core, quality oriented.”

While the old Trelio had 12 tables, the 2017 version will only have eight including two sets of banquettes (up to 10 on each side for larger groups). The new menu is designed to be less expensive (up to 50 percent cheaper) and the portions are downsized by 20 percent to allow people to try other courses.

“The goal is to serve customers so they will not be overly full and be able to enjoy multiple dishes over an evening,” Shackelford said. “The menu is expanded, larger than it used to be. These options will be able to be put out (created) at a quicker pace. Simpler styles and more quality oriented dishes.”

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Chef, Sommelier and owner Chris Shackelford has changed the Trelio menu to reflect new techniques, expanded and less expensive offerings.

Besides special events, wine tastings, holiday and winemaker dinners, Trelio is also offering a new take on dinner in the dining room.

“I wanted a way to develop dishes or introduce new techniques to the staff, so three to four times a month, we we do ‘bar dinners,'” Shackelford said. “We only have four-five seats at the bar for longer and specialized wine paired dinners hosted by me, the sommelier and chef.”

He went on to explain that this would be an extended prefix menu, a rare opportunity to experience an artistic version of a dinner that will most often be theme oriented. Examples might be a Cajun dinner during Mardi Gras to a French dinner on Bastille Day.

Those who are interested in a bar dinner will sit with guests at a beautiful 16X4-foot custom made solid natural distressed Ponderosa pine top complete with rustic wood edges cut from father Jim Shackelford’s property in the Sierra foothills above North Fork. He had over 70 dead and/or dying trees and hired The WoodShed of Clovis to mill and manufacture the bar, tables, open wine cabinets and paneling that now graces Trelio’s interior.

The whole interior is custom and brilliant in its natural state of light reddish-brown, grey/blue hues as well as the knotty highlights and nail or insect holes associated with each tree. The Woodshed contractors completed all the fine woodwork in a refurbished Trelio to complement the new grey color scheme.

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Trelio’s menu is expanding and besides offering more dishes, the entreés will cost less and be 20 percent smaller.

While Trelio is already booked through Feb. 4, reservations are already filling up beginning  Feb. 7. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday and guests looking for a relaxed, upscale dining experience that is centered around handcrafted food, an Wine Spectator award-winning wine list and personal service should consider Trelio for dinner.

Upcoming events on Trelio’s calendar include a Winter Wine Tasting, Feb. 4; a special Valentine’s dinner, Feb. 11 & 14; winemaker dinner with David Scheidt of Mastro Scheidt Family Cellars, Feb. 23. The dinner at the bar special series begins Feb. 28 for “Fat Tuesday at the Bar.” Please call ahead for availability and reservations.

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Look for Trelio Restaurant near the Clovis Gateway to the Sierras sign on Clovis Avenue.

Reservations are recommended as Trelio will only seat 32-36 patrons per evening. Call (559) 297-0783, visit Trelio Restaurant on the web or use ‘Seat Me’ via Yelp. Trelio has seating times Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Trelio is located at 438 Clovis Ave, Clovis, CA 93612.

Today, Chris Shackelford continues the Trelio Restaurant tradition and acts both as Trelio’s sommelier, chef and owner. He has been in the restaurant industry since he was 13 years old under a variety of central coast restaurants and chefs and at Erna’s Elderberry House for nine years before opening Trelio in 2006.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Dinner pairings with Buena Vista Wines.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

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Celebrate Fresno Restaurant Week(s)

The Fresno Regional Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA) was formed in late 2010 to educate, market and inform the public on the importance of supporting locally owned and independent businesses. One result of this group is Fresno Restaurant Week, now in its second year.

Actually it’s Fresno Restaurant Weeks, but whose counting.

Chef, Mike Shackelford, often visits with Trelio patrons each evening after serving the main dishes. Located in downtown Clovis, Trelio is one of 25 Fresno area restaurants participating in the two-week promotion.

In an effort to educate the area community about independent local restaurants, FRIBA along with six sponsors, have listed 25 eateries for the 2012 Fresno Restaurant Week, July 20-Aug. 3. Amy Huerta, who works for the City of Fresno as the Local Business Initiative Manager, says that FRIBA serves all kinds of local businesses; Fresno Restaurant Week is just one way to grow area commerce and provide traction to develop the organization.

“I work for the City of Fresno, promoting independent businesses,” Huerta said, “and while I am not paid by the city to assist FRIBA, I do work with local business owners on how to develop the organization. My role is to help strategize Fresno Restaurant Week, including managing the promotion and media. I also partner with the organization to find innovative ways to educate our community.”

All 25 restaurants have paid a $500 fee in a cooperative marketing action plan. Huerta believes FRIBA not only has tremendous growth potential for the sponsors and businesses who participate, but also sees the organization developing and expanding to include other smaller cafes, bistros or restaurants who could not afford this year’s promotion.

“The impact of events like Fresno Restaurant Week are so important to understand. It’s an example of local businesses banding together in order to promote each other, and by doing so, improve the local community.”
–Amy Huerta, City of Fresno’s Local Business Initiative Manager.

“We are only a start-up organization,” Huerta said. “While we sent cards of ‘Save The Date’ to over 200 restaurants and actually visited many of those, not all could participate. We hope to expand Fresno Restaurant Week to twice a year. Hopefully more will be able to participate and the cost per business should go down. Our hope is to include even more smaller independent owners.”

According to Huerta, the $500 fee the 25 restaurants paid is projected to provide about $12,000 in advertising. Each participating restaurant posts a poster listing all participating eateries. They all put aside competition for the power of group marketing.

The auto industry learned a piece of this strategy years ago when they banded together and now can be located in auto centers rather than spaced miles apart.

Piazza Del Pane has a $22 pre-fix dinner menu which includes an appetizer, choice of entree, dessert, and a glass of wine.

FRIBA is not just for restaurants. According to their FRIBA’s web site, “Research shows that when a dollar is spent at a locally owned and independent business, on average that dollar will re-circulate three times the amount of money back into our local economy when compared to that same dollar spent at a chain business.”

This is true whether purchases are made from one of the local farmer’s markets to the guy who repairs shoes. A list of the FRIBA membership is on their web site; each pays $150 annual fee.

“The impact of events like Fresno Restaurant Week are so important to understand,” Huerta said. “It’s an example of local businesses banding together in order to promote each other, and by doing so, improve the local community. This is a great, innovative way for the people of Fresno and Clovis to try restaurants they wouldn’t normally visit and try new things. And it is good for the restaurants to try new price fix menus.”

Other cities across the country have organized restaurant weeks, including New York City and San Francisco. In fact, the Open Table, an Internet restaurant reservations site has a special web address just to organize Restaurant Week Specials and Prix-Fixe Menu Offers from Coast to Coast.

So Fresno County, while the chain restaurants like Denny’s, Outback Steakhouse or Olive Garden might be your favorite, consider opening up your wallet or purse for one of the locally owned independent diners, bistros, restaurants or cafes. Invite a friend or couple to join up for a night on the town. Most of the Fresno Restaurant Week participants have their special menus posted online. Scroll down to review each one, choose a place to eat and make a reservation. The coffers of Fresno County will be glad you did.

Salut!

In an effort to educate the area community about independent local restaurants, FRIBA along with six sponsors, have listed 25 eateries for the 2012 Fresno Restaurant Week, July 20-Aug. 3. (Illustration used by permission)