Open for Business:
100 Years

They are the businesses that reflect Fresno‘s history, and a hundred years later are still going strong. KSEE24‘s Stefani Booroojian explores the secrets to these local success stories and the owners who run them.

By STEFANI BOOROOJIAN | February 9, 2017

Moncha is considered all the different varieties of the pastries that are with cake flour. Lynn Ikeda makes them – following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather who opened Kogetsu Do in Fresno’s Chinatown in 1915.

They’re pastries, but not the buttery, flaky kind. These are steamed, made with rice or cake flour, and filled with bean paste or fruit. It’s a time-consuming process and she makes them daily.

“For me it’s a big honor and I feel like to fill his shoes it’s a really big step,” Ikeda said.

It was a big decision for me to continue the family history, and I have no regrets

With 102 years in Fresno’s Chinatown – there were tough times. The family was sent to a relocation camp during World War II, but returned 2 to 3 years later and re-opened.

Lynn still uses the original equipment and trays her grandfather had made, and she marks her creations with unique, old branding irons from Japan

Lynn has a criminology degree, but decided to work in the bakery instead – offering something unique to appreciative customers.

Kogetsu Do opened in 1915

“It was a big decision for me to continue the family history, and I have no regrets,” Ikeda said.

She’ll work as long as she can. Her only child, a daughter has other career interests. So Lynn said the bakery will likely close when she’s done.

Kogetsu Do joins a small list on the Fresno County registry of Centennial Businesses. Fresno ag Hardware is on the list, as is Sun Maid Growers of California. Gottschalk’s is there too, but the department store chain established in 1904, dissolved in 2009.

“I’ve always been interested in keeping the business. I’m here everyday like my dad and my grandpa, but I know for sure that I don’t want to let it go,” said Nico Azzaro of San Francisco Floral.

“I’m 3rd generation, my wife and I…My uncle, he’s 91, is still involved in the business.”

19-year-old Azzaro is in line to be a 4th generation owner of another centennial business.

San Francisco Floral is in Fresno.

Nico’s father Andy Azzaro runs the business now.

“I’m 3rd generation, my wife and I,” Andy said. “My dad is still involved in the business. My uncle, he’s 91, is still involved in the business.”

Andy’s grandfather immigrated from Italy, and learned the flower business in the Bay Area. When he relocated to Fresno, he opened San Francisco Floral in 1913.

San Francisco Floral, opened in 1913

“This is the very first shop in Fresno that we had. This is my grandfather standing in the middle, and it was on Fulton street,” Andy said.

Andy said hard work, personalized service, and a good product are the keys to success. They try to buy flowers grown in California as much as possible.

“It’s much like the restaurant business where you’re dealing with a perishable, so you have to keep things fresh,” Andy said. “You can’t shut down and say we’re going on vacation for two weeks – that doesn’t happen.”

Longtime dependable employees are also key, Andy said. Some who’ve worked for them for 40 years.

A longtime employee is also key at another centennial business: Sassano’s Men’s Wear on Pollasky in Old Town Clovis.

“I just never got out of here,” Bob Parks said. “I have a college education in another field, and I did some job interviews but it never worked out so I stayed.”

Parks has served loyal customers for 53 years He started at $1 an hour, when Levi’s were made in America and just $3.98 a pair.

“That’s great grandpa. And my grandfather – they called him shorty,” Parks said.

“But traditions, old Italians work till you drop, so I’ll be here for a while”

Greg Sassano is the 4th generation owner. His great-grandfather opened the store on Front Street – now Clovis Avenue – in 1907. It closed for five months during the depression, and it changed locations a few times, but is a long-time Clovis western and workwear staple.

“We’ve had brands in here for years. Levis back from the 30s. Stetsons Hats, Red Wing, Justine, Tony Lama Boots,” Sassano said.

Greg retired from PG&E 10 years ago, and began working the store after his father had a stroke. And he has no plans to stop

“But traditions, old Italians work till you drop, so I’ll be here for a while,” Sassano said. “And keeping Bob in here as long as we can.”

Sassano’s opened in 1907

Parks is the key to success, Sassano said. Parks and personalized service that a big box store or a website just can’t duplicate.

“When 3rd and 4th generation customers that come in here – and the new ones that come in, we go help them. We don’t just say ‘it’s over there, help yourself,’” Parks said.

A list of local Centennial Businesses

Fresno Ag Hardware, Inc., Fresno, CA 93726 – Founded 1876
Baker Manock & Jensen, Fresno, CA 93704 – Founded 1903
Shepard, Shepard & Janian, Attorneys, Selma, CA 93662 – Founded 1883
Gottschalks, Inc., Fresno, CA – Founded 1904-2009
Sassano’s Men’s Wear, Clovis, CA 93612 – Founded 1907
Commercial Transfer, Fresno, CA 93706 – Founded 1906
Sun Maid Growers of California-founded in 1912
Business Journal – founded 1888



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