Food&Drink View – A Fresh Tale of Two Families

Food and Drink View
By Chris Murphy

If you are a regular reader of ModestoView, you know that interesting cocktails and fresh food are some of my passions. This month we get to combine the two with an amazing story of two next-door downtown businesses that begins in 1918 with the tale of two Italian families.

In 1918, Augustino Gallasso bought a farmland off of St. Francis Avenue north of Modesto to grow wine grapes. In 1937 in San Francisco, Ante and Florence opened Original Joe’s in San Francisco on Taylor Street, one of the most legendary and iconic restaurants. In 1941, Anté (Tony) purchased farmland off of Claribel Road that was farmed by his family where they grew peaches, wine grapes and other varieties.

In 1942 a young Silvio Gallasso was discharged from the Army at 18 as the last male to take care of his family and returned to run the family farm, growing peaches and other fruit. Later, his daughter Sandy would marry Carl Shelton. The Italian farmers of those days stuck together, helping each other out and making sure that they were all successful. This in itself is a whole other story. In 1970 Anthony Rodin at age 21 moved to Modesto to operate the family farms that would today make Rodin one of Modesto’s most popular farming families. The Rodin family and the Gallasso family would farm as neighbors to this day and Original Joe’s is still owned and operated by the Rodin/Duggan family in San Francisco and it is still as amazing as ever. Now this is where this already small world gets smaller.

We now reconnect with grandchildren Marie Rodin and Mike Shelton. Oddly enough they never really knew each other growing up in those big families, Mike living in San Francisco operating bars in the city and Marie with the Rodin Farms operation.

On December 2, December 2014, Marie Rodin made a bold step to open a family Farmers Market in downtown Modesto at the corner of 10th and J serving the freshest fruit and many of the products of her family friend farms. Marie’s mom Frances is a frequent smiling face in the market.

On December 2, December 2015, Mike Shelton returned to Modesto and opened Ralston’s Goat, literally across the street from Rodin Market. When he arrived, he met his neighbor Marie and soon realized that they had a family connection, there parents all being friends and the whole history reconnected again. Call it business kismet, but this was an amazing coincidence that has lead to a great partnership of support, teamwork and above all, friendship.

One of my all time favorite local food hacks was to stop by Marie’s shop, get the fresh juices or during Graffiti Summer, fresh Cherry Cola. I would then hope across the street to the Ralston’s Goat, where they would spike it for me with a delicious dark rum. Now everyone can enjoy this formerly secret hack

Marie is making the tastiest fresh seasonal juices that they now supply to Ralston’s Goat daily. These are truly the freshest and tastiest cocktails you can get with an amazing Watermelon Vodka, a Pineapple Rum and a Mixed Berry Tequila all served with fresh fruit. These need to be 100% on your immediate try list. As a Tiki guy, I am totally partial to the Pineapple with an extra floater of dark rum on top.

At Rodin Market, you can get the tasty grilled chicken prepared daily by Ralston’s Goat on Marie’s popular salads as an add on. Her most popular salads that have earned a big following in town are the Rodin House, Southwestern and the Mandarin salads. Each of these are prepared fresh with special daily dressings and can also be paired up with her signature fruit parfaits and yogurts. You can also find up to ten different juices as the seasons permit. Marie’s lemonades are very popular and go great with a Ralston’s shot of Vodka. (just saying)

Needless to say, the corner of 10th and J is home to a great family story and some of the freshest food in town.

Modesto’s owners and operators of our local restaurants and markets are what make our community special. It is why we need to make sure that we support our local and independent businesses. This is where we get our character and these are the people that are supporting our local families and supporting each other’s business.

So let’s be fresh Modesto. Let’s eat local. And let’s support the great local family businesses that make our community special.

Here’s another coincidence, even their street numbers are the same. Please go visit and enjoy these great local and tasty and home grown local businesses.
Rodin Farmer’s Market
1001 J Street, Modesto
Mon- Fri 8 am – 6 pm
Sat & Sun 10 am – 6 pm

Ralston’s Goat
100110t Street, Modesto
Wed-Fri 3 pm- 12 am
Sat 10 am – 2 am
Sun 10 am – 5 pm

Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.