By Valerie Shelton
It was a bittersweet goodbye to the Old Hotel Bistro for Chef Jim Pacini, who had spent the last two years establishing a New Orleans-style menu with the Central Valley twist at the historic old hotel and cottage tea house.
After increasing success, the restaurant closed its doors July 27 after a 30-day notice from building’s owner, who Pacini said wishes to go in a different direction with the space. The notice came six months after Pacini said he renegotiated a lease with the landlord after fellow tenant, Heart’s Delight, relocated to a smaller Old Town space.
The agreement was a verbal one, Pacini said, and the landlord simply changed his mind. Pacini suspects the owner has a new tenant in mind. The Roundup contacted the rumored new tenant and they did not wish to confirm or deny plans to lease the space at this time.
The loss is a tough one for the chef who said he enjoyed serving citizens and visitors in Clovis.
“I really think we were starting to build a good clientele and customer base,” Pacini said. “People understood what we were doing here with the California cuisine with the flavors of New Orleans. They enjoyed the atmosphere and they enjoyed the fact that we still did the cottage tea service. I think we were doing a lot of things within our community that people really appreciated and I think we were headed in the right direction so it’s a little frustrating, but it’s OK. God’s timing is always right so I’m OK with it.”
Pacini, who works as a full-time culinary instructor with the Institute of Technology, said he plans to continue teaching and expand his catering service, Pacini’s Catering. He also hopes to write a cookbook featuring his culinary style and influences as well as California wines that pair well with his cuisine.
While Pacini is looking forward to working on his cookbook, he said he is beyond appreciative of the community and the Old Hotel Bistro fans who came out for one last meal on the restaurant’s last day of operation.
“It was pretty busy our last day,” Pacini said. “I actually had to turn some people away because we could only serve so many people. We also had a big going away party and a lot of friends and family and fans of the bistro came out for our last night.”