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Ripon project clears way for restaurant & more stores

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POSTED April 21, 2017 1:52 a.m.

Work is underway installing water and sewer lines on five acres at the northeast corner of Ripon at River Road and North Ripon Road where a shopping center and an upscale Surla’s Restaurant are being built.

Apartments are also expected to be located on the southern portion of the land adjacent to two story apartment units already on the property to the south. The restaurant is less than a mile from the Mistlin Sports Park that will soon open its new restaurant and elevator in the park’s water tower.  Closed circuit television will allow diners to watch their favorite of four softball games played on diamonds circling the tower. 

Chef John Surla’s Modesto location is at the former site of Hazel’s Elegant Dining that found a rebirth when John Surla opened it back up on Nov. 4 of 2009 in the 400 block of 12th Street – with 160 guests that opening night.  He was the former executive chef at Gallettos Restaurant in downtown Modesto and before that he was the Sous Chef at the Golden Vine Winery which was hosted by Robert Mondavi at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. 

His other venues included Bay Area locations including Black Hawk Grille, in Danville; Servino Ristonante, in Tiburon; Tourelle Restaurant in Lafayette and Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. 

Just two years ago in April of 2015, Surla opened his fresh cuisine in the farm friendly atmosphere of Hilmar with his Lola Bistro and Express.  It was named in tribute to his grandmother who taught her nine daughters how to cook. Lola means grandmother in Surla’s native Filipino dialect honoring her and their family heritage. 

Surla said he tries to stay clear of the “trendy city look” in designing his restaurants saying “it’s too overwhelming – you need to make your guests feel at home.”

The Hilmar restaurant is a takeoff of the Modesto restaurant where the bistro portion showcases an exposed wine cellar and see-through food cases with food items ranging from $7 to $24 three years ago.  

To contact Glenn Kahl, email



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