by Zachariah Zendejas
Once you enter the brown, inconspicuous building of Jon’s Bear Club through its back entrance, you are immediately immersed in a comfortable, relaxed and well-to-do setting, without it feeling overbearing for the average eater, like myself.
Beginning as a bar in 1935, The Bear Club was at the rear of a grocery store serving the farming community for many years. Then, in 1972, the Club passed to Mike Raphael and Willard Duddy. Raphael met Jon Koobation, a young chef working in Dinuba at the time, and made him the head chef of the small time bar/restaurant until April of 1973, when Raphael received the license to become a full-fledged restaurant. Eventually, Raphael and Duddy sold the restaurant to Koobation, who then named it Jon’s Bear Club in 1985, and is still the head chef.
Offering lunch and dinner, the restaurant has good reason for being popular, with lunch dishes like Charbroiled Fresh Salmon and Honey BBQ Glazed Chicken Sandwiches, and Chicken Milano and an 8 oz. New York Steak for dinner. Their desserts, like the homemade ice creams and cheesecakes, are also delicious. However, the current Fall/Winter menus will not last long, changing in the Spring and Summer.
The dinner I had was the Chicken Milano. The sauce was creamy, the chicken was perfectly flavored, and it was obvious that the dish (along with the entire meal) had the full attention of its maker.
The staff was also excellent. They gave me their full attention and utmost patience, and helped me decide what I wanted, telling me their favorite dishes. I enjoyed the evening talking and savoring my food.
This is one of the most important aspects of fine-dining, besides the food. The waitresses do not rush the customers and are friendly enough to engage with them, but retain their professionalism. This allows the customer to dine in a relaxed state, and along with the calm atmosphere the restaurant produces, the customer does not feel the time fly by as they enjoy their meal. With the bar separate from the dining area, customers can enjoy a drink or a meal in peace, either by themselves or with others.
The Club is great for anything from dates with friends or significant others to meetings with colleagues or associates. However, the prices are a bit steep; unless you drive a brand new BMW and gas prices do not make you cry, I recommend that, at least once every month or two, you have lunch or dinner there. It is worth the cost.
Jon’s Bear Club is located at 1695 East Manning Avenue in Reedley. The Club is open Tuesdays through Fridays for lunch from 11 AM to 2 PM, and for dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 PM to 8:30 PM. It is closed Mondays and Sundays. If you wish to make a reservation, contact the Club at (559) 638-2396.
You can also learn more on their website.