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Restaurant Chain Spices Up West Side Of Oakdale
General Contractor Doug Jackson, front, joined by Happy Bees, Incorporated Supervisors Paul Dias and Tim Burns in the Family Dining Room of the newly constructed Huckleberry’s. The Oakdale west end restaurant is set to open in early September. - photo by Leader Photos By Teresa Hammond

There’s a Cajun flare coming to the west end of Oakdale.

In a city where dining variety is somewhat hard to come by, the soon to open Huckleberry’s may just have the recipe to get the west side all abuzz.

Diners will be pleasantly surprised when entering the 4,400 square foot building located at 1214 West F Street, Oakdale. The one time car wash, turned yogurt shop, turned shaved iced building has been transformed to a dining space reminiscent of the bayou.

“Our slogan is ‘Southern cooking, with a California flare,” Happy Bees, Incorporated Supervisor Paul Dias said.

The Oakdale location is the third Huckleberry’s to be opened by Happy Bees, Inc. in Stanislaus County. The Riverbank based company also owns and operates seven Perko’s restaurants as well. The Oakdale addition is slated to open in early September. The restaurant will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We wanted to expand,” Dias shared of the company’s growth. “We were always looking for a location in Oakdale to do it.”

The hours are also a good fit, he added.

“It’s an easier concept to run,” Dias said of the breakfast and lunch menu. “We’re very family oriented. It’s nice that our employees can be home enjoying it (dinner) with their families.”

A family focus for a family business, family member and fellow company Supervisor Tim Burns is excited about the Oakdale addition to his family chain.

“We were really motivated to get something open,” Burns said of bringing the dining experience to Oakdale. “Obviously a lot of work went into making this over.”

According to the supervisor team, structurally no square footage was added to the interior from the previously existing space. A few walls were added and a wrap around porch, complete with outside dining, however, were constructed. Yet the transformation is significant. The space, complete with a rustic ambience, painted murals, and tin roof topped booths, offers flexible seating for 150 plus diners. A separate room, known as the Family Dining Room sits at the back of the eatery with space for eight, as well as a fireplace.

Equally exciting was the staff they were able to hire, with those new employees currently in training at the other two locations.

“We got a lot of local people,” Dias said of over 300 who applied in person and even more on-line through Indeed. “I’d say probably about 75 percent were Oakdale people. We hired mostly local.”

“I’d say probably 75 percent hired were locals,” Burns added, noting a total of 50 employees were hired for the new eatery.

Both Burns and Dias shared dining at a Huckleberry’s is more than eating, it’s an experience. While the menu hosts basic staples like bacon, eggs, and such, it is the ambience and the unique menu which they feel will impress first time visitors.

“We do have a lot more Cajun or Mississippi southern themed items,” Dias said, mentioning items like fried green tomatoes, beignets, okra, catfish and jambalaya.

“There’s more places that are just dinner versus breakfast and lunch,” Dias shared of the limited hours. “It’s okay, we’ll leave that up to those guys, there’s enough to go around for everybody.”

The team is equally excited about the patio dining, as it’s a first for their Huckleberry’s locations.

“The patio is going to be a nice place to eat,” Burns stated of the west facing patio, sharing that the outdoor space maintains shade well throughout the course of the day making it a viable option for diners.

“I think we’re pretty excited about one, showing off this new restaurant to everybody, because I think it turned out really well and then just having a place in Oakdale,” Burns said. “Because if someone did want to go to Huckleberry’s they’d have to travel 40 minutes easy. So to have something over here… we’re excited about it.”

And while customer satisfaction for a unique dining experience is the number one goal, experience as well as tenure has taught Dias that it won’t always be perfect.

“Things are going to come up. We’re human. We’re not going to be able to please everyone,” Dias said of the upcoming opening. “Our goal is from day one, to please every guest that walks into the restaurant and give them an experience they won’t forget.”

“We’re excited to be in Oakdale,” Burns added. “We’re really blown away by how much we’ve heard from people that they’re excited that a new place is coming in.”