Casey and Lindsay Hawkins, owners of South Gate Brewing Company in Oakhurst, have transitioned from stouts and IPAs to mochas and lattes for their newest business venture.

Madera County’s newest housing development, Tesoro Viejo, celebrated its grand opening Saturday morning and also opened its first business, Axis Coffee Bar and Eatery, owned by the Hawkinses. The business is adjacent to Tesoro Viejo’s welcome center.

“It feels great. We feel very privileged to be the very first business opening in the Tesoro Viejo development,” Casey Hawkins said during a phone interview Saturday. “It’s an honor that the partners chose us and we’re very excited to be there.”

The ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Madera County housing development, located off of Highway 41 and Avenue 15, kicked off at 10:30 a.m. and not soon after Axis was filled with people waiting in line to get a taste of their coffee, beer, wine and food items. There were times where the line extended out of the door.

A long line forms inside of Axis Coffee Bar and Eatery on its first day open. Tesoro Viejo’s first business is owned by Casey and Lindsay Hawkins, the owners of South Gate Brewing Company in Oakhurst. The couple is already looking to expand their gastropub business into Tesoro Viejo, as well, with plans to open up a 10,000-square-foot brewing facility and tasting room next door to Axis. WILLIAM RAMIREZ WRAMIREZ@SIERRASTAR.COM

The environment was lively, with employees zooming from end to end of the bar, crafting and serving primarily cold drinks, a result of a noticeably warm morning.

Customers said they were encouraged by what they saw and what they tasted. Phillip Roman, 28, of Fresno walked out of Axis with his wife feeling like it had exceeded his expectations.

“Great customer service, the coffee’s really good. It’s better than we expected, to be honest with you,” Roman said. “Being so busy, we thought they were just going to be trying to just push it out, but they handled it well.”

Marilyn Lopes of Clovis echoed those sentiments, saying her iced mocha was “excellent.” Her husband, Cliff, owner of Lopes Utility Design Services, is responsible for the entirety of Tesoro Viejo’s electric design.

“It’s a good idea to have something like this in the middle of a community like this,” Cliff Lopes said. He believes a coffee shop is a great location for residents to come and “congregate, mingle and so forth.”

The Hawkinses were unable to attend the grand opening due to the couple being out of the country until Tuesday, but said they were grateful to Robert and Karen McCaffrey, CEO and vice president of Tesoro Viejo Development, respectively. He credits them for the decision to expand to the new community.

Representatives from the Madera County Board of Supervisors, Cal Fire, Madera County Sheriff’s Office and Tesoro Viejo Development were all in attendance Saturday morning to help cut the ribbon for the grand opening of Madera County’s newest housing development. WILLIAM RAMIREZ WRAMIREZ@SIERRSTAR.COM

This is only the beginning of their Tesoro Viejo expansion, with plans already underway to build a 10,000-square-foot brewing facility and tasting room next door to Axis, Casey Hawkins said.

“We are looking forward to growing Axis, as well as South Gate Brewing Company,” he said. “We’re hoping that the food coming out of Axis will help service the tasting room, so that people will be able to have a great meal while they’re tasting our beer next door.”

Eastern Madera County was represented through the Minarets High School show band, marching band and cheer team. The show band entertained attendees with covers of songs like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” and Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration.”

Tesoro Viejo will bring over 5,000 new homes spread out over 1,600 acres to Madera County. The community is already home to a school, Hillside Elementary, as well as a Madera County fire station and sheriff substation.

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