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LEMOORE — A new bistro is planned to open in downtown Lemoore in the coming months.

The bistro is meant to be more than just a new eatery; it’s meant to be a way for the workers to gain work experience to help them find a job after recovery.

Dr. Crystal Hernandez, executive director of Champions, said that in October Champions plans to open Bistro 212 in downtown Lemoore to help fill a need among their patients.

The bistro will be run by Champions nonprofit treatment agency, which provides substance abuse programs, alcohol abuse programs, mental health programs and residential treatment facilities for men and women.

Hernandez said that often the center’s patients come out of their program clinically improved, but their social situation is similar to before entering their path to recovery.

She said that often finding and retaining employment can play a crucial role in continuing efforts for patients to recover.

Hernandez said that Champions staff noticed a gap for many patients in work experience.

“We can teach them how to interview and make a resume but there is nothing like giving them the experience of coming to work on time every day,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that many of their patients are not just recovering from substance abuse but also from violence or significant loss. Often, patients have little work experience or haven’t worked in a few years, Hernandez explained.

The project will allow for their current maintenance program patients to have another property to regularly maintain. They will also significantly help in getting the place open in terms of building tables, landscaping and painting the property.

The garden program that Champions started two years ago is run by Covan Hardcastle. Hardcastle said that working in the garden has helped some of their clients find work, and it is also therapeutic.

The garden project currently provides food for many of Champions' facilities and sells food at the Avenal Farmers Market.

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Hardcastle said they are planning to expand production in order to also provide food for the bistro.

Bistro 212 plans on selling salads, soups, baked goods, sandwiches, fruit, coffee, tea and other treats, as described by Hernandez.

Hernandez said they plan on hiring full-time staff as well as running a program in which the rehabilitation center’s clients can apply and interview for.

Although Champions headquarters is in Hanford, Hernandez said they chose to set up shop because of how accommodating the city of Lemoore and the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce has been.

Hernandez said city fees were too high for them to want to move forward with their previously proposed location at 700 Irwin St. in Hanford. Hernandez stated that the fees would have been upward of $34,000 annually from the rough estimate from the city.

Darlene Mata, the community development director for the city of Hanford, said the fees were based on early estimates based on the square footage provided by Champions and current regulations for the needs of the potential eatery.

The future location of Bistro 212 is to be at 212 D St., Lemoore.

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