Al Pardini's Restaurant

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Expand view Topic review: Al Pardini's Restaurant

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by Lester » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:41 pm

In 1970 my first real job was at the Hacienda on Clinton Ave as a dishwasher and I then joined the Local Restaurant Union. However, after a few weeks the Hacienda went bankrupt. I was one of the luck ones to get paid before leaving the Hacienda because I was a union member. Remember, I was only about 17 years old and was really stupid about work and life.

Without really understanding the meaning of being a union member, the union sent me over to Pardini's Restaurant on Clovis Ave. in Fresno. I was hired as a busboy in 1971 without any experience but it turned out to be a really good job. Al Pardini worked nightly at the bar, and his wife ( I can't remember here name because we only called her "Ms. Pardini") would be in the restaurant.

One night the Union Representative showed up to collect his union dues from me. Being a total ungrateful idiot, I dodged them in the restaurant and they went away. I think it was because of my Hacienda experience, but the union helped me. Then a few months later they came back and left again. I asked one of the waitresses if the men were still in the restaurant and she said no. She said Al Pardini has been paying my union dues. I was very surprised. I never told Mr. Al Pardini thank you. I wish I was mature enough to of told him thank you.

And I wish I could of told him that every dish I accidentally broke, I broke right in front of him. I never broke the gold leaf plates (they were about $14 a plate) because that would get you fired. Al Pardini was tough, but he was fair..more than fair.

Another example of my immaturity was when one night in the restaurant Miss. Pardini was sitting with two other women at a table and as I passed by Miss. Pardini asked me for a light for her cigarette. I was very busy, and grabbed a half full match book out of my pocket and threw it on the table!!! I had class!

You would think Miss. Pardini would be upset. Actors and actresses often visited the restaurant so my response was a problem. No, she was not upset in the least. Miss. Pardini waited a day and then she called to the side and said, "Let me show you how to light a lady's cigarette." I said, "Okay!" I was eager to learn. She said, "Always carry a full book of matches. When asked for a light, take out the matchbook, strike the match, light her cigarette, shake out the match, don't blow it out. Close the matchbook and hand it to the lady right side up." Miss. Pardini was so kind and graceful that her instructions could not be interpreted as punishment at all because it wasn't.

The next night she asked me for a light while sitting at a table with guests. I did as she demonstrated and every tried to imitate her gracefulness. Her friends were amazed that she tamed that wild animal that was me. And if asked for a light, I do it the same way as she taught me.

Mr. Al Pardini and Miss. Pardini were really good persons. I didn't fully understand it at the time because of my young age...but I understand now.

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by Lost Fresno » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:00 pm

The Pardini's Fig Garden location undoubtable became the flagship and best known of Al's ventures. And even today it is a well known restaurant. But in 1970 Al also created a restaurant on S, Clovis Ave. where I was a busboy. It was a longer drive for me as I lived near Cedar and Ashlan but I was happy to have a job while attending McLane High School. All was going well and occasionally Mr. Pardini would come into his restaurant and was always nice to me with a kind word or two.

Then one night Mr. Pardini stopped by the Cedar Lanes Coffee Shop restaurant at 2:00 am after the bars had just closed. He was among a ton of other people who had the same idea. Cedar Lanes was always very popular at that time of night. My Mom was the manager of the Coffee Shop and when Mr. Pardini cut in front of the other 50 people and announced who he was, my Mom politely told him that he would have to line up in the very back of the line just like everybody else. As you might imagine, Al didn't like that.

When my Mom told me the story, I replied that I liked Mr. Pardini and the next time I saw him, I was going to tell him who my Mother was. She advised against doing that but I was not worried as he seemed very nice to me.

The next week he came into his restaurant and I immediately approached him and with a smile, told him my Mother was the Coffee Shop manager at Cedar Lanes. He politely smiled and said that was nice.

The very next day I was fired from Pardini's with no reason given except that the manager said Mr. Pardidni has requested it. And with that, a valuable lesson was learned: Listen to your Mother when she offers some advice!
Fresno Bee - March 28, 1970 / Click to Enlarge

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by sjvalleydave » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:06 pm

LOL I remember The Famous Fish Company in Fig Garden....Remember Harlan's in Fig?

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by oldfig » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:19 pm

Thank you "FresnoGiants" for confirming my memory. I went there with my date before a prom at RHS.

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by FresnoGiants » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:51 pm

The restaurant at Fig Garden Village, about where Starbucks is now, was originally called Harvans. It then became Pardinis. Al Pardini got into a contract fight with the Funch family (who owned Fig Garden), and he moved his restuarant to Sunnyside. Then the Fig Garden restaurant became Stefanos, followed by the Fish restaurant, a salad bar place, and then Bulldog Brewery.

Pardini didn't do so well in Sunnyside and then moved into the new Picadilly Square in the mid 1970s. The current location of the Pardini banquet hall was entirely Pardini's restaurant, and was one of the most elegant places to go. He added the coffee shop a few years later. Then Al died and Pardini's closed, and the building went downhill--it was called "Knock Three Times" for awhile and was pretty wild. Then THAT closed and Al's family reopened it as a banquet hall, and now it thrives again.

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by MikeYB » Fri May 06, 2011 4:05 pm

Pardini's Grill is still at Van Ness and Shaw, I think they have kinda weird days and hours now.
I'm almost positive they're open Saturday and Sunday for breakfast/lunch..

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by meechmom » Thu May 05, 2011 11:16 am

Yep, Pardini's was where the Old Bulldog Brewery was. Was torn down and now The Habit and other stores are there now. Then it was Stefano's in the late 70's to early 80's before shutting down. Fresh Choice was there too then Bulldog Brewery.

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by oldfig » Mon May 02, 2011 7:34 am

Thanks for taking time to answer. I think after Pardini's was in Fig Garden for a while it closed or moved and then Steffan's was in that space.

Re: Al Pardini's Restaurant

by Sharlsie » Mon May 02, 2011 4:32 am

I remember Pardini's. And it seems like it was in Fig Garden, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Al Pardini's Restaurant

by oldfig » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:01 am

Does anyone remember where Pardini's restaurant was in the early 70's? For some reason I think it was located where the cafe/banquet facility is located today. After that I thought they moved to Fig Garden Village.