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Trendy restaurant gets approval for downtown Ripon
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Kevin Clark is hoping to have his upscale downtown restaurant up and running by early next year.
That’s his best-case scenario for the opening of Level 40 Public House — or right about the time of Almond Blossom Festival 2018.
Clark was thrilled Monday that the Ripon Planning Commission gave his plan of converting the vacant building at 201 S. Acacia Ave. — formerly George’s Bike Shop and more recently office space for American Legion Post 190 — the green light.
This was the dream he and his wife, Michelle, had not long after moving to Ripon some six years ago to raise their family.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by love from the community,” said Michelle Clark, who has 20 years of marketing experience.
Kevin Clark spent the same amount of years as a finance professional in Silicon Valley.
He came up with the name for the restaurant after playing Pokemon Go, the free-to-play, location-based augmented reality video game on smart phones, with his young son.
“Level 40 is the highest you can reach,” Clark told the commissioners.
A self-taught chef, he plans to serve an elevated bar pub cuisine or American tapas.
“The focus will be local ingredients,” Clark said.
Freshness will also count, from the making of the bread to the hamburgers and sausages.
The proposed exterior of the building will remain metal siding with many enhancements including new paint.
The feature will be indoor and outdoor seating with retractable awning and the main entrance to the restaurant facing First Street.
Food pairings with beer, wines, and other adult beverages will be yet another feature of Level 40 Public House. Recent changes to the Ripon Municipal Code would allow this dining experience to be enjoyed outside, according to Director of Planning Ken Zuidervaart.
He noted that downtown parking could be an issue.
Zuidervaart said the remodeled Stockton Avenue parking lot, once completed, will go from 35 to an anticipated 42 spots — still not enough to accommodate downtown parking, he added.
The Ripon Memorial Library parking, located three blocks with 38 spaces and available only after closing hours of the library, was also taken into account.
But not even the anticipated parking problems were enough to deter the many at the meeting in support of this new business.
“That only means you have a successful business,” said John Anderson of JB Land Use Planning and soon-to-be-neighbor.
“(My husband) Vince and I are so excited,” said Ripon resident Stephanie Hobbs of the new business. “This adds to our downtown experience.”

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail vrembulat@mantecabulletin.com.