Brothers Plan Modesto RV Park
It started as the Old Foamy Drive-In with 13 stools for customers who treated themselves to root beer floats and 4-inch-square burgers.
But for the past 30 years, it's been The Fruit Yard, a landmark pit stop in Modesto, Calif., for locals and travelers along two of Stanislaus County's busiest country roads, according to the Modesto Bee.
Now its owners, Joe and Willie Traina, plan to invest $15 million to $20 million to turn the 45-acre site into a destination banquet and special events site with space set aside for recreational vehicles and shopping.
"This is kind of the vision we've had for years," said Joe Traina, who runs The Fruit Yard. His younger brother focuses on their Patterson dried fruit company, Traina Foods. "What we'll do, we'll do first class. We're going to have a theme built around agriculture and recreation."
That's logical, considering The Fruit Yard's location. It's surrounded by fruit orchards and on a major route to many of the region's vacation spots.
"We get a lot of traffic headed to Yosemite passing here," Traina said. He said 10,000 vehicles a day travel on Yosemite Boulevard and Geer Road, and many of them are RVs.
The Fruit Yard's 180-seat restaurant, 150-seat banquet room and bar, as well as its fruit stand and market will remain.
Traina said he employs about 75 people now, but he'll be hiring at least 120 more once the project is complete. He said the retail shops and fruit packing facility will create additional jobs.
The RV storage facility and 66-site travel trailer park will be new uses for the land.
Traina is convinced it's also a perfect place for storing boats, campers and recreational equipment. Rather than towing their toys back and forth from their homes to the reservoirs, Traina thinks many people would rather keep their equipment at The Fruit Yard.
"It's on the way to where they're going," he said. "They can pick up their boat, get their gas and go."
Or they could stay – for up to two weeks – in the planned RV park.
Even with high fuel prices, Traina is convinced families will continue to cherish their vacations.
"Recreation is big in America," he said. "I don't think our economy will ever get so bad that people will deny themselves recreation."