Indoor shopping is limited to 25% capacity, food court seating is moved outside of west doors
VISALIA – If you love to shop and hate to wait in line, now may be the best time to head to the mall.
The Visalia Mall opened its doors on Aug. 31 with about 85% of its stores opening before the end of the week. Malls were allowed to reopen under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy announced on Aug. 28. Even under the state’s “purple” tier for widespread cases of the virus, shopping malls are allowed to open indoors as long as they limit capacity to 25% and close common areas and food courts. The primary difference between when the mall reopened in June and last week is offering outdoor seating for the food court. In order to abide by the governor’s guidelines, an outdoor dining area has been set up outside of the West Food Court doors so that guests can enjoy a meal at the center. General manager Richard Feder said Red Robin is in the process of setting up a tented area in front of their restaurant. Our common areas have been modified as well to allow for appropriate social distancing.
“As always, our highest priority is the health and well-being of everyone that works and shops at Visalia Mall,” Feder said. “We are excited to reopen our doors and look forward to welcoming our community back to the property.”
Still in place from June’s reopening are touchless hand-sanitizing stations, touch-free interactions, frequent and intense cleanings and social distancing directions. Touch-free interactions include using a foot pump at the hand-sanitizing stations and swipeless credit card readers at participating stores. Stickers urging residents to remain six feet apart dot the floor of the walkways, half of the chairs and tables have been removed from the food court and the mall has cordoned off every other sink to maintain social distancing. During a walk-through of the mall last Friday, mall staffers could be seen sanitizing and wiping down tables, chairs, doorways and benches. Certain parts of the mall remain off limits including the playground, candy machines, coin-operated rides, massage chairs, water fountains, baby changing stations and ATM machines.
“Our security team is actively monitoring the property and will have face coverings available for those who need one,” Feder said. “They are also continuously monitoring the traffic of the mall to ensure that guests are practicing safe social distancing.”
The mall even has a new tenant in the depths of the pandemic. Aerie, a subsidiary of American Eagle Outfitters specializing in lingerie, opened on June 1. Last year Aerie opened 60 new stores — a mix of stand-alone stores and American Eagle-Aerie side-by-sides, bringing the total number of Aerie stores to 332. This year, the brand has plans to open about another 60.
A second new retailer is expected to open after the first of the year. Green Crush is the latest store to try and capture a slice of the market for fruit smoothies, vegetable and fruit juices as well as fruit salads. The store’s mission is to “introduce an innovative approach to a healthy lifestyle by becoming a more nutritious alternative.” The juicy business made its debut in the Los Angeles area in 2012 and now has 13 locations including stores in Fresno and Bakersfield. In addition to Visalia, Green Crush plans to open locations in Modesto and at the Brea Mall in Los Angeles later this year.
Construction is underway on a new building at the southeast corner of the mall property that will house two restaurants new to Visalia. California Fish Grills is expected to open in December. California Fish Grill strives to make healthy, delicious seafood, easy to get and affordable.
Menu favorites such as Cajun salmon and battered shrimp tacos are prepared in an open kitchen as vegetables and herbs are chopped, fish is hand battered, and meals are cooked on their signature flame grill.
Next door to the fish house will be Urbane Café, which is slated to open in February. Known for its fresh fire-baked focaccia breads, hand-carved meats and hearty salads, Urbane Cafe is a consistent favorite on Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and other restaurant review web sites. Popular with health- and budget-conscious customers for 15 years, Urbane Cafe is a lunch and dinner destination for families and business people who want a fast, fresh, affordable meal. The lunch and dinner menu at each Urbane Cafe restaurant features fresh, healthy sandwiches and salads served in a warm, inviting setting. Catering and take-out are also popular.
For more information on which stores are currently open at the Visalia Mall, visit VisaliaMall.com.