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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Downtown Fresno welcomes a sweet taste of Italy

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Cesar Maya/The Collegian
A crowd gathers along the street to await the grand opening of Gelateria Del Centro.

After being laid off due to the massive furlough of Bitwise employees that took place in May, Jordan Sanchez and Tami Waters use Gelateria Del Centro as a passion project. The shop has also helped to serve the community by hiring other former employees whenever the opportunity arises.

Gelateria Del Centro celebrated its grand opening in Downtown Fresno on Nov. 17. A crowd gathered to get a taste of what the business had to offer.

Specializing in Italian gelato and located right next to the historic Warnors Theatre on Fulton Street, the gelateria opened with nine flavors such as limoncello, pistachio, stracciatella and others including two vegan flavors with seasonal options like white peppermint bark.

Jordan Sanchez, co-owner of Gelateria Del Centro, greets attendees at the grand opening. (Cesar Maya/The Collegian)

Sanchez, co-owner of Gelateria Del Centro, stated that the shop was inspired by a trip to Verona, Italy, as well as the Warnors Theatre itself. The art and aesthetics of the theater played a pivotal role in the development and design. The shop as the goal was to create a similar look of the theater in its’ heyday.

Co-owners Sanchez and Waters said that they were looking to collaborate for some time in which the pairing eventually came together to bring in Gelateria Del Centro.

Diego Cruz, a district representative with Congressman Jim Costa, was in attendance at the grand opening and said that the shop is one example of Downtown Fresno making huge strides.

He also emphasized how significant the shop is for employment in the area, especially for former Bitwise employees such as Sanchez and Waters themselves.

“The Bitwise situation has been hard on a lot of individuals and a lot of families and it’s really sad to see those types of events happen,” Cruz said. “This is a great example with the employment here at Gelateria El Centro because those individuals are talented and they deserve to be employed and provide for their families.”

These former employees include Robert Amador, a muralist, and a marketing team that will consist of members that were formerly working for Bitwise.

While working on the opening of Gelateria Del Centro, Sanchez and Waters consistently worked with various organizations to get the shop up and running.

Marissa Arreguin said that the Downtown Fresno Partnership, of which she is a member, helped to support the shop as a new up-and-coming business and that it is a welcome, new addition to the area.

“I think it’s just really cool to have something different,” Arreguin said. “But also, they tried hard to reflect the history of Fresno while maintaining their own aesthetic, which is really nice.”

Berenice Zuniga, the community relations and marketing specialist for the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, a nonprofit organization, helps handle the membership program of the foundation, which assists small businesses with their grand openings.

Zuniga said that the foundation was able to help the gelateria through a woman entrepreneurship program that Sanchez competed in to earn a grant, as well as providing working capital to be able to get through hard times caused by the Bitwise situation.

Zuniga also added that the gelateria is something that she’s never seen done before in Downtown Fresno.

The interior design was constructed by Tami Waters, the co-owner of Gelateria Del Centro. (Cesar Maya/The Collegian)

Waters said that for the last four months, she and Sanchez have been working nonstop with multiple departments to work out a lot of details that were needed to get the shop running, and everyone involved in the process has been great to work with.

She also said that it’s a great opportunity to be a gelateria because there aren’t too many in the area and with the attention to detail that they put into the shop the neighborhood will hopefully enjoy everything being served.

“We hope to do well and just get the community together to make Warnors Center a destination,” Waters said.

Gelateria Del Centro will be open daily from noon to 9 p.m. on 2017 Tuolumne Street.

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