For many years now, Dinuba’s downtown district has been suffering from lack of foot traffic. Concerns for the downtown area only increased in recent years when the district lost three major anchors, the use of the Dinuba Vocational center on the north end, the bowling alley on the south end, and the bar and grill at its center.
This spring, however, may be remembered as the one that gave new life to Downtown Dinuba. Last month a large gathering of community members filled the Dinuba Vocational Education Center to celebrate its grand opening in a promising deal between the city of Dinuba and the Dinuba Unified School District.
Last week, Orbit Lanes (name of the new bowling alley) opened to the general public. It was to the delight of many who have already visited Orbit Lanes as a true family entertainment location.
Under new owner Robert Trevino and the management of Ralph Alvarez, the new bowling alley looks better than ever. With updates throughout the building, and even on top with a new roof, the new Orbit Lanes offers a refreshing addition to Dinuba’s downtown entertainment plaza.
In addition to offering the entertainment of bowling, the facility offers a definite upgrade by way of its food. Alvarez is also the owner and operator of Pizza Planet, a local restaurant chain with locations in Reedley, Orosi and Orange Cove. Dinuba becomes the chain’s fourth location as inside the new Orbit Lanes is a fully functional Pizza Planet. The old adjoining bar room has been renovated to accommodate for additional dining space.
Monitors have been updated, and many shoes are band new.
Bookending the downtown area on the south end, the new Orbit Lanes will serve as the third piece of Dinuba’s downtown entertainment plaza, with Platinum Theaters and the entertainment park being the other two.
But, until recently, there had been a void in the center of downtown, as one of Dinuba’s most iconic buildings sat dormant for years. The building that began as the Karnack building, located on the northeast corner of Tulare and
L Street, was built in the late 1890’s. Before becoming the neighborhood’s local bar and grill, the building also served as the town’s first Bank of America and Conklin’s clothing store.
The building took on a new life several years ago when Joanne Ruiz, wife of the late Louis Flores Ruiz, the co-founder of Ruiz Foods, gave the building a complete overhaul to turn it into what was originally J’s Bar and Grill.
A new owner took over in 2014 and changed the name from J’s Bar and Grill to D’s Bar and Grill. Unfortunately, the new owners had the business for only a couple of years and the building had sat dormant since.
That changed recently, as Visalia businessman Daryl Redondo recently purchased the building.
Redondo has had crews working on the building for the past few weeks now, and Saturday hosted an invitation-only soft opening, offering free food and drinks.
Though most of the building was turn-key, Redondo will be taking the next few weeks to make cosmetic updates and upgrades, such as the sound system. He also plans to place custom made pool tables and electric dart boards upstairs.
Redondo also brought back some familiar faces to the establishment. His head chef will be Travis Sandoval, who was also the head chef for the original J’s Bar and Grill. And serving behind the bar will be another familiar face, as Donnie Malone returns as bartender.
“I’m excited for Dinuba,” said Malone, who grew up here and graduated from Dinuba High School. “It means a lot to me to be able to bring this place back.”
Joining Malone behind the bar will be Denisse Rivera, who worked with Malone at Crawdaddy’s in Visalia.
Saturday’s soft opening brought a full house, with patrons occupying both levels of the building.
“This is good for Dinuba,” said Ramiro Guerrero, who attended Saturday’s event. “Without this people end up going to Visalia or Fresno. This gives people a local place to go.”
The name will only change slightly, as the new business will be called Big D’s Bar and Grill. Redondo hopes to have the business fully operational and open to the public by late April.
With the addition of Orbit Lanes, Big D’s Bar and Grill and students flowing into the new Dinuba Vocational Education Center, foot traffic in downtown Dinuba appears to be increasing.