by Sarah A. Peterson
Since iconic Fresno eatery The Downtown Club reopened as The Republican last November, the historic building in downtown Fresno has gotten a new lease on life. Kings River Life sat down with Republican owner Kate McKnight to talk menus and venues ahead of the bar-and-grill’s new schedule starting May 2 (details on changes at end of post).
KRL: When did the Republican open?
Kate: We opened our doors November 5, 2015. We started first with lunch daily 11-2. Once we had our liquor license, our bar opened January 16.
KRL: Was there a Grand Opening event?
Kate: We had a big celebration during our first Art Hop on February 4. That drew a huge crowd.
KRL: How has the community responded to the Republican?
Kate: We’ve had very positive responses and attention. People who have never been in the beautiful building are amazed when they walk in and see the skylights, woodwork, and the size of the place. Customers tell us they have been hoping for a place downtown to have a nice meal and cocktail after seeing a show at the Saroyan or before attending a baseball game.
KRL: What are the most popular items on the menu? Which menu items are the Republican’s specialty?
Kate: Our signature sandwich is The Republican, our Reuben, and people tell us it’s the best they’ve ever had. Customers are also enjoying our new salad choices with optional grilled salmon or chicken and our pasta specials. In our bar, we have specialty cocktails including The Republican Old-Fashioned. Our focus is craft cocktails. We have an impressive selection of small batch bourbons as well as some craft gins and vodkas.
KRL: What kinds of events have the Republican hosted?
Kate: Art Hop on the first Thursday of every month is a big night for us. We’ve had local politicians hold their election night events here. We had an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party which drew a variety of singles and even couples who were looking for something a little quirky to do that night.
KRL: What is the meaning behind the Republican’s name?
Kate: Our name is in homage of the building’s past, and also its first tenant, The Fresno Morning Republican newspaper. After the paper stopped being published in 1932, the commercial printery remained until The Downtown Club purchased the building around 1980, and it was remodeled for the private club. So, the name is not in reference to the GOP; all are welcome here!
KRL: What were the biggest changes made when transitioning from the Downtown Club to the Republican?
Kate: Some people missed having the traditions of the private club. Others lamented the change of the name and the menu. But as a public bar & restaurant, the word “club” had to go as it denotes something private.
Getting people to come in and try us for lunch or for downtown workers to stay and come in for Happy Hour continues to be a challenge on some days. With other businesses opening nearby and new housing being completed soon, we’ll see some much needed foot traffic. We want people to know that we have rooms available for work meetings and private events on any day of the week, so there are lots of ways to experience The Republican.
For more information on The Republican and its new days and hours visit its Facebook page.
2120 Kern St
Fresno, CA 93721
You can also find them on Facebook
Announcing new days/hours starting May 2:
Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.*
Friday 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Closed Saturday & Sunday
*Open until 11 p.m. on Art Hop, the first Thursday of each month
Our menu is served all day until half hour before closing (10 p.m. on Friday).