By The Bakersfield Californian
Q: They are rebuilding the Burger King on Calloway Drive and Rosedale Highway into something else. We have not seen any signs that say what it will be.
Can you find out?
-- Karen Roberts
A: It's going to be a Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburger restaurant.
The menu on the Freddy's website shows it offers pretty much what the name suggests: hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches and frozen custard treats. Kyle Gerstner, an owner and the chief operating officer of the Freddy's group that is opening the Bakersfield franchise, said the restaurant has a 1950s and family atmosphere and offers such specialties as hand-crafted steak burgers, shoestring french fries and, of course, frozen custard with myriad toppings.
You order and pick up the food at a counter and bring it back to your table, Gerstner said.
The Bakersfield restaurant is scheduled to open in January, he said. Four managers, three-fourths of them locals, have been hired and are in training. It will be hiring an additional 90 people, starting toward the end of the month, Gerstner said.
The closest Freddy's is in Victorville, he said.
A corporate spokeswoman, Sarah Selmon, said there are 79 Freddy's restaurants right now and there will be 84 by the end of the year.
For some outside perspective, we asked Californian restaurant reviewer Pete Tittl to weigh in on the news:
"As a former resident of Milwaukee (which I believe has the highest consumption of frozen custard in the world!), I can vouch for many excellent custard providers, such as the Culver's chain and Kopp's (my favorite), though Gilles and Leon's have their fans.
"It's like soft-serve ice cream with an added richness from the addition of eggs. So, yeah, it's heavy in the calorie count, but talk about satisfying.
"I'm STOKED that we're getting this, as I have not ever found this frozen concoction in Bakersfield. I'm sure everyone who grew up back East (it was invented on Coney Island, I believe) or the Midwest (Chicago also is a frozen custard haven) will welcome this addition to the Bakersfield dining scene. Unlike ice cream, which can have a lot of air, it's typically a dense frozen treat like a premium ice cream (Haagen-Dazs)."
Q: Since I am an American Express cardholder, I registered my credit card in advance on its website, looking to take advantage of the Small Business Saturday event. American Express was going to credit me back $25 for using my card at a participating business, so it sounded like a good time to have lunch at one of the two local restaurants that were participating (since we had never been to either).
We drove to the Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, and it was closed. Disappointed, we walked to Muertos. It, too, was closed.
Why did these two restaurants register as participants of the Small Business Saturday event if they were going to be closed?
-- Robin Acevedo
A: We talked to folks at both restaurants and they said the same thing: They don't know how they got on American Express' list of participating small businesses.
After hearing Robin's question, Nick Hansa at Chef's Choice contacted American Express, which he said told him that the company simply picked small, non-franchise stores to list. Hansa apologized for the inconvenience.
Shawna Haddad-Byers, owner of Muertos, added that her restaurant doesn't open until 4 p.m. on Saturdays. And she was open that Saturday for dinner, Haddad-Byers said.
Q: There is a property in the middle of the street at Forest Park Street between Bridget Leigh Way and Norris Road. I see high schoolers walking to Centennial High on this road from the gardens. This is unsafe since the entrance to the subdivision is only one lane.
When will the street be widened to the correct, safe two lanes?
-- Ray Clanton
A: Marian Shaw of the Bakersfield Public Works Department filled us in on why the street is so narrow and why it's not likely to be widened anytime soon:
Forest Park Street is in the city from the south right-of-way line of Norris Road south.
However, the property that impinges on the street right-of-way for Forest Park is in the county.
The tract that surrounds this lot was approved by the city Planning Commission on June 28, 2001.
A condition was placed on the tract to make a good-faith effort to obtain the additional required right-of-way and, if the developer was unable to obtain the right-of-way, he was to request that the county proceed with eminent domain proceedings and enter into an agreement with them to pay the costs of the process.
However, the county declined to go forward with the eminent domain, and also declined to give the city of Bakersfield the authority to pursue the eminent domain.
Because the city was unable to obtain the right-of-way, the developer could not be required to widen the road.
I am currently unaware of any plans to pursue the purchase of the property.
Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.