Quail State Fresno
“The best way to get a sense of a city is from a rooftop,” says Hayley Islas-Wolf, co-founder and co-owner of Quail State, a new farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Fresno that celebrates the San Joaquin Valley.
The concept for the restaurant and bar is something her husband and co-owner, Josh Islas-Wolf, dreamed up after working in the service industry. Four years ago, opening Quail State became their combined dream. The couple has been working on permitting, construction and licensing to bring their restaurant to the Fresno community for the past two years.
To fulfill the dream of celebrating the Central Valley not only through ingredients, but also by providing a view to take it all in, they needed a rooftop. “Fresno does not have any rooftop restaurants. Selecting our location in the historic Pacific Southwest Building on the rooftop was essential to carry out our vision,” says Hayley. She adds that the building is the most iconic building in Fresno and the tallest building between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
The view is only one part of the reason the couple was committed to seeing Quail State come to life in downtown Fresno. Josh grew up on a farm in the Central Valley. Once he left the area to attend college in Southern California, it became clear that the San Joaquin Valley provides a vast amount of produce, but there are few restaurants and bars showcasing what is offered here.
The diversity of culture and food also made this area perfect for their restaurant. Hayley says, “The San Joaquin Valley is home to countless cultures. Each brings with them their own vibrant flavors and unique history. At Quail State, we strive to celebrate the things that make us different by using fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create cocktails and food inspired by the people who call this place their home.”
The restaurant is dedicated to sourcing their seasonal ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of Fresno. The foods and drinks focus on the natural terroir of the area which involves the local produce grown here today while taking into consideration the pre-Hispanic influences of the region.
The Islas-Wolfs consider themselves lucky to showcase the work of incredible talent who have a wealth of knowledge from being key leaders in the industry. Executive Chef Matthew Lee puts his special touch on the San Joaquin Valley’s local ingredients, pulling from his education at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena as well as his years of experience working in restaurants in the Napa Valley and Paso Robles.
The craft cocktails are all curated to highlight the spirit and seasonal ingredients of the Central Valley. Legendary bar director Ashley Afferino, who spent the majority of her career working in San Francisco’s top bars, helped to create the cocktail program at Quail State.
The restaurant and bar offer a rotating seasonal menu. Staff work together to ensure the food and cocktails complement each other. Each meal has a suggested wine and cocktail pairing on the menu.
A taste of what’s in store for diners includes the Quail Egg Burger, a seven-ounce beef patty topped with caramelized onions, butter lettuce, tomato and quail eggs served on a potato bun with garlic aioli. For drinks, the Juanita Appleseed is a mix of house-made cider from three varieties of apples grown in the Central Valley, mezcal and jalapeno-infused maple.
In addition to providing a true local farm-to-table experience, Quail State is committed to minimizing waste in both food and cocktail preparation. They are also the only restaurant and bar in the area committed to carrying natural and minimal intervention wines by the glass and bottle. Additionally, they do their best to seek out products from female distillers and winemakers for their beverage program.
Now that pandemic-imposed constraints are lessening and the restaurant and bar are open for patio dining service, the couple is happy to fully implement what they envisioned for their customers, but also for their staff. Hayley says, “We’re passionate about our employees and we want to see them succeed. We’re excited to be working with our staff who waited patiently with us. The rooftop space is beautiful, and we can’t wait to share it with the community.” •
Story by Lori Rice
Photos by Yvette Goltiao