Restaurant Makeover: Out to Lunch with Joe’s Steakhouse


Posted by Kim Leonard


Today was day two of Out to Lunch week, which only looks like we came up with because we wanted an excuse to not pack a lunch all week long. In reality, it’s actually helping us get to know our Restaurant Makeover contestants a little better. (…aaaand this constitutes a “working lunch”- so we can fill up, kick back, and chat with staff and other patrons in the name of “research”. We’re really good at this game.)


In case you’re not familiar, Restaurant Makeover is the rad competition that our 501c3, Downtown Fresno Foundation, is running for our downtown restaurants as a way to say “thanks” for all the times we did forget our lunches, needed a meeting location, celebrated a job well done, or just craved something sweet/salty/meaty/crunchy/healthy and they were there for us. I know, that run on sentence did nothing other than let you know we’re an office full of easily swayed hungry people so here’s the official answer:

Restaurant Makeover is a competition among downtown Fresno restaurants where the grand prize winner earns business support and cash to help remodel or “makeover” their downtown restaurant. Running a restaurant is hard work: Cooking, cleaning, customer service, bookkeeping, marketing. Restaurant owners have a lot on their plate and we’re so thankful for the great dining options they bring to our downtown. This is our way to say thanks and to help ensure their continued success. 

Basically, someone is gonna get a prize package valued at $25,000.


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Today we went to Joe’s Steakhouse, which is such a delicious place that I routinely have a hard time choosing between the fish and chips, salmon burger, or steak salad. The struggle is real, folks. (I ended up having a bowl of chicken tortilla soup because I was freezing. You know how it is, the weather gets below 100° and it’s time to bust out the sweaters. No, it’s not pictured. Thanks for asking.) Here are a few of the yummy things we ordered:

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Grilled Chicken Salad
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I actually don’t even know what this was, but it looked good and I almost stole a bite.


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The Blue Cheese Burger.

What’s awesome about Joe’s (other than tater tots)  is that they have this massive back room, so if you have a group you can get loud and obnoxious without really interrupting anyone else’s moment of oneness with their steak. We tested this today and laughed really hard over some imagined SkyMall products that we were coming up with. All I know is that there was knitwear and neck support involved. Look for us on Shark Tank as we pitch our concept, whatever it was.

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Here’s a little more about Joe’s Steakhouse for you:


“We really enjoy the people. Our regular guests have become friends.”

Joe’s Steakhouse opened at 831 Van Ness in 2005. As owners of the building, they discovered that their perfect tenant was themselves. Armed with the desire to open a restaurant, but no experience, they taught themselves every facet of restaurant management and ownership through trial and error. This May marked their tenth anniversary as downtown’s steakhouse.

“Our family has become stronger as a unit because our determination to make our restaurant prosperous.”

What make’s Joe’s Steakhouse unique?

“We are proud to serve dishes made from fresh and top quality ingredients. We serve steaks, burgers and sandwiches. Our food is unique in that it is prepared simply with minimal seasoning in order to showcase the natural flavors.” 

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Makeover wish-list

  • Paint front dining room
  • Re-do ceiling
  • Add hanging lights over booths
  • Designing a bar area

If they win, their signature item would be…

“We would work with our meat purveyor to create a menu item that we could brand as a unique to Joe’s Steakhouse. It would be a steak entrée and perhaps also a new burger.”

You can vote for Joe’s Steakhouse here until Friday, June 10.



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