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Old Hands in Valley Restaurant Scene Become Cool Hands

June 18, 2008

By David W. Hill, The Modesto Bee, Calif.

Jun. 18–Jeff and Steve Burns grew up in the restaurant business. Their family owned Happy Steak franchises in the Northern San Joaquin Valley as far back as the 1960s.

Over the years, the family transformed its Happy Steaks to Perko’s restaurants, adding more of the full-service cafes along the way. Today, the brothers Burns run the family’s string of 11 Perko’s outlets.

Always looking for new opportunities to grow their food-service business, the Burnses found another restaurant they thought would be pretty cool to develop. Through their contacts at Perko’s, they got involved in an Old West-themed restaurant that takes them back to their steakhouse roots. Called Cool Hand Luke’s Steakhouse & Saloon, the brothers’ latest restaurant venture arrived recently in Riverbank.

The restaurant, at 2505 Patterson Road, occupies a building across the parking lot of Riverbank’s Galaxy Theatres complex. The structure originally was built to house a motion picture-themed restaurant called Flix, which closed in 2006 after a two- year run. The Burnses acquired the site and spent the next two years giving it a total makeover.

What they created was an 1800s-era hotel setting with separate dining areas, including one featuring Old West mercantile decor and another re-creating a livery setting — a good place to climb out of the saddle for a hot meal and cool drink.

Cool customers can choose from steaks, ribs, chicken, seafood, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and desserts, including nachos, a 25-ounce T-bone steak, chicken-fried steak, calamari steak, campfire salmon, baby back ribs, barbecued chicken, a steak sandwich and buffalo chicken salad. Folks who can’t make up their minds can always go with one of Luke’s signature dishes: the onion blossom, skirt steak, coconut shrimp stack and cinnamon roll bread pudding.

And don’t forget to check out the saloon. The full-service bar also has plenty of nonalcoholic drinks designed to keep cowpokes of any age cool this summer. It all combines to give the Burnses a pretty cool hand in the restaurant game — and area diners another cool option.

Hours are 4 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 869-4686.

There also are Cool Hand Luke’s restaurants in Turlock and Merced, but each is separately owned.

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Parents who are getting pinched as the economy slumps could be finding it tough to buy what they need, or want, for their kids. But there’s a new store in Turlock that offers families a thrifty option.

That’s what Kelli Sharpe and Michelle Peeples had in mind, at least, when they opened Butterflies & Bumblebees Children’s Consignment & Boutique at 117 W. Main St., Suite 1, in downtown Turlock. The store carries lightly used clothing for sizes zero to eight and other gear for kids.

Sharpe and Peeples buy used items for cash and store credit. They also take some larger and more expensive merchandise on consignment. But it isn’t just a consignment shop; they also stock many new items.

Visitors will find children’s clothing for all seasons, shoes, swimsuits, hair bows, toys, bedding, cribs, furniture, dress-up outfits and items that haven’t even been removed from the original packaging.

While some might hesitate to start a business in today’s tough business climate, these first-time business owners thought the timing was perfect for a shop like theirs — because these days, everybody is looking for a bargain.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 632-5480.

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The crew at the CVS Pharmacy at 2020 W. Briggsmore Ave. in Modesto is on the job for more hours than I gave credit for recently. The store is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Sorry about that, guys — people deserve credit for all the hours they’re working.

Have an item for Business Beat? Send it to David W. Hill, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; or dhill@modbee.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Modesto Bee, Calif.

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