Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Downtown Sonora has seen a noticeable change in its storefronts this year, with several new retail shops open and a restaurant on the way.

The JDoggs hot dog cart that was stationed in the Lowe's parking lot off Old Wards Ferry Road has found a more permanent home on South Washington Street.

The business began moving into the space about a month ago, after it was vacated by the former tenant, Rosie's Hot Dogs.

Owners Justin Bermea and Jackie Wynn plan to open the doors to their new digs June 14.

"It's about relationships with the people, and what better place to have relationships than in the historic downtown area?" Bermea said.

He added that the new location will allow the restaurant to be a part of downtown events.

"We're going to have a house full of people and have a lot of fun," he said.

The black-and-white checkered tile floor and shiny chrome bar stools resemble the decor of a 1940s diner, and the owners have gathered historic downtown Sonora photos to adorn the walls.

While the JDoggs motto is, "It's all about the dog," the new menu will include burgers and milkshakes to complete the retro diner feel.

The downtown area has also seen a slew of new retail stores - most catering to women.

Envy Abbigliamento, a men and and women's clothing store, recently relocated, like JDoggs, to Washington Street from a nearby spot.

Envy originally opened in the Old Town Sonora building on Stewart Street.

In March, two women's clothing stores emerged at the Sonora Inn building - Lady Couture and Be Dazzled at the Inn.

Next door, Sharon Malone Lingerie expanded into the space thathoused Sonora Bridal Boutique - a 20-year-business that closed in April because the owner was retiring.

Across the street, Swank Boutique reopened earlier this year as Marilyn's Boutique - a women's apparel and accessory store with a collection of Marilyn Monroe-themed items.

And a little further down the road, at 422 S. Washington St., a Groveland woman opened a women's boutique, Koach Paradise, in what she hoped would be a more lucrative town to run a business.

Business has been slow thus far but owner Mildred Alecio is hoping the summer season will draw in more customers.

"We are a tourist-driven economy up here in Tuolumne County, so we're always hopeful for a great tourist season," said soon-to-retire Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director George Segarini.

Segarini said turnover is common with downtown Sonora businesses but that they seem to have rotated more in recent years. He attributed the more frequent changes to the recession.

A handful of storefronts still remain empty, which Segarini said is likely due to litigation or high rent.

But he said some local residents see the closures downtown as opportunities to venture into the business world.

"The good thing about downtown Sonora is there always seems to be a new entrepreneur ready to step in and take over that vacancy," he said.