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Sugar Pine to raise funds for move

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Sugar Pine Smokehouse staff from left, Makenna Nichols, Abraham Alvarado, Sierra Lancaster, general manager Lisa Gill and Maricela Diaz show some of the prizes that will be raffled off during fundraising event on Oct. 15.


With its near future uncertain and time in its current location coming to an end, Sugar Pine Smokehouse General Manager Lisa Gill will host a fundraiser to help with a move.

“We are raising funds to move to a new location,” she said. “The fundraiser will consist of a car show with prizes. The entry fee is a donation. Throughout the day, we will have live music, as well as a deejay that has donated his time. The bands have donated their times, too.”

The fundraiser will be on October 15 and begins with a silent auction that begins at 9 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m.

“We’re trying to reach everyone from the breakfast crowd to lunch and dinner,” Gill said. “We have gotten a lot of items from local people and from my food vendors. They have been really generous. I hope we will get a lot of stuff.”

Club DJ Randy and the Mix will provide musical entertainment. Chris Driver will play from 12-2 p.m. and Classic Memories will play from 2-4 p.m.

Contrary to rumors, Sugar Pine will be able to take things over to its new location. However, things built into the building like oven hoods and the walk-in cooler cannot be moved.

“A lot of people have been asking about the little houses and the guitars in the bar,” she said. “Those are coming with us. There is a lot stuff that we have on display at the restaurant that doesn’t belong to us, but we get to display it. It’s every bit of our intention to take it to the new place. We’ve had people walk in and ask if they can buy anything. We tell them nothing is for sale. I’ve had a lot of people ask about the little buildings. They are coming with us. I love them.”

The hope for Gill is to move into a building across the street in the Walmart shopping center.

“It has been bought by a new group and they have some awesome things coming to that center,” Gill said. “Madera is going to be super excited for it. They are going to do good things for it. They have a vision of something we haven’t’ seen in Madera. I’m happy to be a part of it. If everything goes well, I hope we get the okay and they will allow us to go out there with them.”

Gill knows her time at the current location is coming to a close and hopes to move into the new place by the time she has to leave.

“We haven’t gotten a notice to leave,” she said. “We are on a 90-day lease. During COVID, everything was uncertain. Nobody knew what direction we were going. There was always talk about In-N-Out. In order to protect us, we decided to go on a 90-day lease. That way, if In-N-Out was coming, we could go. No one has been dishonest. It was the best thing for us at that time. We needed to protect the business. It worked out good for us.

“I have a strong feeling it will be happening sooner than later. I’ve heard rumors. Nobody has told me when I have to leave. I have a feeling I will be getting a notice in a few days.”

Although she will be sad to leave her current location, Gill is excited about what she will be able to do with the new Sugar Pine location.

“I am so excited for the new facility,” she said. “I have been walking around with the design of how I want it to look. It’s in my chicken-scratch because I cannot draw. it’s been fun to design. I have so many great ideas. I already have the restaurant figured out how it will go. I even have the walls decorated in my head. We’re excited for the move.

“The new place is not a restaurant. We are taking a shell and building a restaurant inside. It’s going to be pricey.”

Gill said that in the best case scenario, she will finish out the year in the location and then move into the new location at the beginning of 2023. She hopes to be closed for only a short time.

“The guys we are working with are go-getters,” Gill said. “I told them I needed the restaurant to be ready by January. They said they will try. Realistically, if we can open in February, it will be a dream come true.”

Gill hopes to raise enough funds to purchase new equipment, but also to help her own employees.

“We have to move our big smoker to the new location and install gas lines,” she said. “There’s so many things that are not thought about. We have to put in drainage and install grease traps.

“I do hope, if I can raise enough, the money will be put into a separate account and go to my employees. We will, most likely, close down for a while. If I can get most of them a paycheck while we are down to get through the hard time, that’s what I’m thinking about. We don’t want to lose any of our employees. We are a family here. If I can figure out how to pay them during the transition, that will be a dream come true.”

In addition to the car show and the silent auction, Gill said she will probably use some of the items in a raffle and might even have a live raffle.

“We are still getting items in and figuring out what goes where,” she said. “It would be fun to do something live like a raffle and auction.”

She has reached out to her car club friends and has gotten a commitment from the Cal Livin’ Car Club and hopes to get commitments from Madera Classic Cars and other car clubs.

However, the biggest fundraiser will be the silent and live auction.

“I’m blessed the community has come together to help with the event,” she said. “Donations for the silent auction will be accepted until the day of. If they need it to be picked up, we can do that. I belong to a Fresno restaurant group. They are putting together a basket for me of gift cards. It should be a $500 basket. It’s nice that they are offering to help out.”

Gill and Sugar Piine have done a lot for the community and she said it brings a tear to her eye to see the community supporting her restaurant.

“It blows my mind about how many people want to help us,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re a business and people usually don’t do that. It’s a good feeling they will be behind me.”


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