Can Fresno Make it a Go?

The beleaguered Fresno, Calif., entertainment complex Granite Park is making yet another attempt at revitalization with last weekend’s opening of The Edge Nightclub. Kim Kardashian hosted the grand opening event, and actress Sharon Stone’s vintage red convertible was auctioned for charity. The complex, which housed Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina brand until the red rocker became embroiled in a dispute with complex management and pulled his brand, will now be switching over to “Las Vegas-style nightlife,” which apparently these days means table service, ultra-pricey bottle formats (one bottle of high-priced bubbles carries a $40,000 price-tag) and celebrity appearances — Kardashian’s visit came with a $100 ticket cost. The opening also boasted the appearances of popular spinster DJ Vice and Hangover hottie Sasha Barrese.

The man behind the second-coming of Granite Park is Kirk Vartanian, an auto dealer, who has announced that after The Edge, he will take over several restaurant spaces within the complex that either failed after opening or were never able to raise the capital necessary to complete construction. These ventures include Memphis Blues and Red, a Russian-themed steakhouse that was to offer a vodka menu consisting of nearly 200 brands. Vartanian also is a partner in Grace O’Malley’s Public House, which operates in the Granite Park complex. As Vartanian raced against the clock to get the club ready for re-launch, both permit issues and a $67,000 outstanding water bill placed hurdles in the way of the club’s opening. But whether The Edge brings in an upscale crowd willing to fork out big bucks to party like they do in Vegas and whether they will do it on a sustainable basis remains to be seen.

The complex has other serious issues that need addressing including a $5 million loan guaranteed by the city that is now in default, a shattered plan for the 42-acre site that included public-use sports fields alongside mixed-use retail and bar and restaurant space, and local and federal investigations into insurance fraud and tax violations on the project. While the future remains murky for Granite Park, Vartanian is confident that his hard work and investment will pay off.

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