Elbow Room – Reprinted from Fresno Bee

The first is Elbow Room. It just re-upped its lease with Fig Garden Village for another 10 years and is remodeling.

The 58-year-old restaurant is staying open during its remodel, with workers redoing the walls and installing windows at night.

Customers have been signing walls, which will be soon covered up as part of the remodel.

But don’t worry, says owner Mike Shirinian, it’s still the same old Elbow Room. He took great pains to make sure it remains the old-school comforting San Francisco steak house-style restaurant that attracts both hip folks in their 50s and 60s and 20-somethings who like the retro feel.

He likened the changes to getting a new version of your favorite car.

“The new model is a little smoother, sleeker, but it’s still the same kind of car you like,” he says.

Shirinian spent two years researching the look he wanted and toured restaurants in the Bay Area and Napa for inspiration.

That new look includes lots of mahogany trim and a mahogany bar, new bar stools and new booths. The walls will get a face-lift and they’ll soon be a stainless steel wall near the pass-through window with a 1950s-inspired diamond-pattern design. Flat screen TVs will feature its wine list and photos of the weddings and banquets it can host.

On the patio, the Elbow Room’s trademark cat leaning on a martini glass will soon appear in neon on the wall, along with some other minor upgrades.

Shirinian has pumped several hundred thousand dollars into the remodel, with lending from Fresno First Bank. The work will be finished in early August.