Updates: Tree of Life and Delly Beans, the Next Chapters

Jan 19, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Food Fun, Tom Sims

by Tom Sims

The world turns and things change.

Tree of Life, Fresno, has a new location and Delly Beans, Clovis has new owners. This is good news because in a world where restaurants are constantly going out of business, these two are simply making changes and thriving.

Since opening, Tree of Life has become a fixture on Kern Street in downtown Fresno, serving fresh, local foods, organic and vegetarian options, and delicious homemade desserts. They have also created jobs for creative people with barriers to employment. While the crowds have been steady and loyal, there has been one great limitation. Fresno still has not developed a downtown night life culture. The streets are still rolling up at night after everyone goes home from work and parking continues to be an issue.

So, in November, Carolyn and Steve Ocheltree moved Tree of Life to the Blackstone corridor near the corner of Herndon and Blackstone. It is part of Fresno’s Blackstone renewal and is a welcome addition to the center and spine of the city. With the move, Tree of Life is no longer open for breakfast, except weekend brunches. It is, however, open for lunch and now, for dinner. This expands the culinary possibilities as well as customer base.

tree of life

Tree of Life Ribbon Cutting

Before the move, Carolyn shared with me the mixed feelings about leaving downtown, the love that she and Steve have for the area, and the difficulty making the decision. However, she knows well that for a business to add value to the community and provide jobs, it must be sustainable. Timing and location must be considered. It was time for a new location.

Some of this month’s offerings will be the January Cake lineup with Coconut Cake, Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake, Orange Upside Down Cake, Vegan Chocolate Cake, and Carrot Orange Cake – made fresh, with local farm ingredients! There is also the Soup Shooters option. You get the opportunity to try three out of eight Signature Soups and corn bread.

One loyal customer, Everette C. DeVan recommends Tree of Life Fresno with this endorsement, “Wonderful food with great people. Carolyn and Steve are spectacular and very loving.”

Speaking for the restaurant, Carolyn says, “We are an urban cafeteria where slow food is served fast. Foods are prepared by hand, taking various dietary needs into consideration. We include gluten-free baked goods, dairy-free treats, all-American comfort foods, and vegetarian and vegan entrees on the menu.”tree of life

“Tree of Life Cafe is more than just a restaurant! We’re a social enterprise that’s devoted to improving lives right here in our Central Valley. Did you know that we partner with programs like The Lighthouse Recovery Program and X? Our very own Jackie Martin and Kathleen Baldus are graduates of the Lighthouse Recovery Program.”

tree of life

Steve and Carolyn

Recently, Carolyn Ocheltree spoke to a class on non-profit businesses in the business school at Fresno State University. In the class, was a veteran restaurateur named Nhia Yang. Nhia was, at the time, supervising a number of stores in a well-known valley restaurant chain. While visiting one of her locations, a realtor dropped off a flier, indicating that a popular Clovis coffee shop was for sale. It was Delly Beans Sandwiches and Gourmet Coffee in the Save-Mart Shopping Center on Shaw and Armstrong.

I wrote about Delly Beans about a year ago. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the new owner. In many ways, it is the same place I have been going for twenty-three years. There has been a growing menu, and there is continuity. There is also a community of loyal customers who continue to frequent the place and enjoy the atmosphere. In other ways, it is new. It is remodeled, has new furniture, a new look and feel and many new menu options.

Nhia Yang and Bilal Tabia are newlyweds. She is from Fresno, and he is from Morocco. Nhia dreamed of her own restaurant where she could use the skills she has learned in over a decade. Bilal hoped for a business in his new homeland. Nhia brought a wealth of management knowledge, marketing skills, merchandising talent, and culinary expertise. Bilal brought a winning smile, profound people skills, the analytical abilities of an engineer, the ambition of a new American, and the work ethic that has made America a great place for small businesses.


Nhia Yummy Sandwiches

Nhia spent the last fifteen years in restaurant management supervising multiple stores. She has twenty-three years in the business, is working on a degree in business administration from Fresno State, and is managing another restaurant. Bilal studied engineering in Morocco. He has never been in the food service business, but he is learning fast. He is also the prime motivator for his wife to launch out and fulfill her dream of owning her own business.

Bilal also knows how to make friends and sees that is the key to success in any business. When I mentioned that Americans like to do business with people they like, he wisely and knowingly responded, “It is like that everywhere. Everyone wants to do business with friends.”

Nhia has received good tools from Fresno State including advice from Carolyn Ocheltree’s guest lecture. Networking is a vital part of what both are doing. Social media is the part of the process Bilal and Nhia’s sister will drive. Other members of the family are helping out as well.

Coffee remains the main event at Delly Beans, but soups, salads pastries, and sandwiches are not far behind. They also serve the increasingly popular beverage, boba. Among the dishes are breakfast burritos, spring rolls, and southwestern roast beef. La Boulangerie in Fresno will supply the pastries and baked goods. Soups and sandwiches are made on site. While other foods will be tested, the newest is their signature offering: Vietnamese sandwiches, also called, Banh Mi.


Delly Bean Coffee Bar and Black Board

Banh Mi is a dish in which I indulged regularly during the early 90s in San Jose. As a hybrid of French and Vietnamese influences, it combines flavors that place it in a sophisticated taste-class of its own. Nhia’s own recipes and skills have kicked it up several notches, making Delly Beans the go-to location in Clovis for such treats.


banh mi

The goal of Delly Beans is to provide fresh quality products and offer a clean environment while delivering great customer service. Guests become friends and family forever. That is the philosophy of the owners. One will find that philosophy in both Tree of Life and Delly Beans. The world turns. Things change. Life goes on. Fortunately these changes preserve and enhance the opportunity to find good food, great coffee, and a sense of community in Fresno and in Clovis.

Tree of Life
6640 North Blackstone Avenue
Southeast corner of Herndon and Blackstone avenues.
Call (559) 663-7776
Takeout is available.
Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Weekend Hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 pm and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Brunch is every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Order online at Tree of Life Online Order or UberEATS.
Follow Website – Tree of Life Fresno.com, Facebook – Tree of Life Fresno, and Twitter – Tree of Life Fresno

Delly Beans
2141 Shaw Ave. Ste 111
Clovis, California 93611
Call (559) 323-8054
Hours 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday
Find them at Facebook – Delly Beans Clovis and on Instagram at dellybeans1.

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. His congregation, “The Fellowship of Joy,” is part of a larger collaborative called “4141 Ministries,” of which he is Executive Director & he is an active Toastmaster. You can also find him on Facebook.



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