Group takes ‘Mulligans’ on redeveloping theater

Tulare developers purchase Main Street Theatre with plans to open an indoor driving range called Mulligans instead of initial plans to use the building for restaurants and residences

VISALIA –  After four years of sitting empty, developers have teed up a new vision for the Main Street Theatre.

Earlier this month, a Tulare group led by Scott Wright and Shane Moss filed plans with the city of Visalia to redevelop the former stage for live theater as an indoor golf venue. The 8,500 square foot venue would be named Mulligans, the golf term for a do-over, and include a virtual simulator, restaurant and bar. The proposed project was discussed at the city’s Feb. 8 Site Plan Review hearing and received positive response and will move forward.

Asked when Mulligans might open, Moss said they are still working on details but he hopes it could open by the end of this year. Moss says virtual golf is popular around the country not just to have fun but to improve your golf game.

The theater was home to the Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Co. for 27 years before the city decided to sell it in 2018. News of the city council’s decision to sell the property prompted a seventh-month discussion as members of the community theater group and its many supporters raised concerns about the loss of the venue as an affordable art program for local children as well as affordable entertainment for local schools and families. 

Ultimately, the council approved the sale of the building to developer and farmer JR Shannon for $515,000 in November 2018. Shannon originally proposed to use the building for a large concept restaurant and later discussed splitting the building between commercial and residential tenants. Last April, Kaweah Health said it was one of the building’s it was considering purchasing in downtown to convert to residential units to accommodate its physician residents and visiting medical students within walking distance from the hospital. 

In keeping with the request for proposal issued by the city, Shannon stated that the building’s front façade and Main Street Theater signage would remain and even be repaired. He also expressed interest in keeping the ticket sales window of the theater for some sort of use by the tenant. A recent illustration shared as part of the Site Plan Review showed the ticket window and marquee as fixtures of the proposed golf venue.

Fugazzis has a new owner

Gabriel and Silvia Diaz are the new owners of Fugazzis on Main Street after founder Mike Fligor sold his interest to them last October. Other longtime employees will continue to serve the California bistro’s locations in Tulare, Hanford and Kingsburg. The second Visalia location and its Porterville restaurant have closed and Fligor pulled out of plans to open a second-story restaurant at The Mix prior to selling the business. Located at 213-217 W. Main St., The Mix is a collection of five-locally owned eateries in one place, including Main Street mainstay Quesadilla Gorilla, and two mobile businesses making their first go at brick and mortar locations, Bombshell Beans and Scoops ice cream, sharing the downstairs space. Fugazzis was set to be the cornerstone of the project with a second story fine dining experience overlooking Main Street. Visalia entrepreneur Grant Smith, who is spearheading the project, is still building the improvements hoping to attract another tenant for the foodie mall which was set to open in the first half of this year.

Gabriel says he still works with Fligor and meets with fellow Fugazzi operators regularly to plan strategy. He said he considers Fligor a mentor having worked with him for 16 years. Gabriel reminds people that Fugazzis is not just an Italian restaurant but emphasizes they offer fusion cuisine, looking to continue to come up with new offerings all the time. He is busy on social media promoting his Downton eatery, happy that the area continues to be a destination for hungry residents and visitors with so many choices.

Those choices will soon include new burger place House of JuJu (also in Clovis and Morro Bay) and the rebuilt Alejandra’s Mexican food and Jimmy John’s who were each shut down due to the huge fire last year but are busy remodeling to open later this year.

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