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Mexican restaurant moving into historic downtown building
Enterprise Building
The corner space inside of downtown Turlock’s historic Enterprise Building will soon be home to a new restaurant, Rancho Fresco Mexican Grill (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

After receiving a complete cosmetic overhaul in recent years, downtown Turlock’s historic Enterprise Building will house a new restaurant in the coming months.

Rancho Fresco Mexican Grill is hoping to open its third location on Main Street by the end of the year, owner Ismael Covarrubias said, adding to already-established and well-known eateries in both Modesto and Patterson. The restaurant’s claim to fame are its fresh, handmade tortillas which are cooked right in front of the customer, as well as its Chipotle-style assembly line where each item is made to order.

When seeking a location for his third Rancho Fresco, Covarrubias said Turlock seemed like the perfect choice.

“We started growing, so we went to Patterson and then the idea was to open in Turlock. We couldn’t get a good spot or good enough location where we felt comfortable until this place came up,” he said.

The new Mexican restaurant will move into 214 and 216 W. Main St., where the City of Turlock Planning Commission has already approved plans for an outdoor seating area. The space is located inside of the pie-shaped Enterprise Building, which has been welcoming residents and visitors alike to Turlock’s downtown area since 1905.

The building’s interior was modernized in 2016, while the exterior was restored back to its original 1900s look and feel. The building welcomed Ezekiel’s Barber Shop in recent years, but has otherwise remained empty — until now. Covarrubias hopes Turlock’s Rancho Fresco will be open by December or January.

Once the doors are open, Turlockers can expect freshly-prepared meats for their tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as a full bar. Everything is made daily, Covarrubias said, which he believes sets the restaurant apart from others.

“Everything you get from us is homemade — this is the food we grew up on. My mom learned the tortilla recipe from my grandma, the chile verde and chile Colorado recipes are my mom’s and the carnitas recipe is my dad’s,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they don’t like Mexican food or they don’t like a handmade tortilla, so I really believe that everywhere we go, we can make an impact.”

Rancho Fresco’s outdoor area will seat 52, but Covarrubias is unsure if the Calafia statue will stay or not. He said it’s a beautiful statue and would look nice on the patio, but he would prefer the seating area without it in order to make room for more tables.

According to Deputy Director of Development Services Katie Quintero, although there has been a lot of talk around town in regards to moving the Calafia statue, the City has not received an application to request the relocation or removal of the piece of art. For the City to decide on the statue, an application would need to be submitted to the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department. The item would then be taken to the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission for a recommendation, and then on to the City Council for a decision.

“It’s to be determined,” Covarrubias said. “Our plan is to take up as much patio space as we can.”

Rancho Fresco isn’t the only Modesto-based restaurant with its eye on downtown Turlock; according to Commonwealth owner Jeff Brown, the gastropub which specializes in craft beer, wine and “enlightened pub grub” is looking to open another location in the downtown core but has yet to officially decide on a location. In addition, Raw Sushi Bistro management confirmed that ownership is exploring different communities in which to open another restaurant — including downtown Turlock — but has not yet found a confirmed landing space, or decided what the new restaurant will be named.

In the meantime, Covarrubias looks forward to being the first to make the jump south.

“I like Turlock’s setup and I like what they've done with the downtown, quality wise,” he said.
“Being one of the businesses that can make an impact there really excites us.”