Merced County Times Newspaper
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Cardinal Financial celebrates grand opening downtown

“This is a fantastic group of people and community members,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy about the team at Cardinal Financial Company, who just opened shop on 18th Street. “And they have raised the bar on ribbon cutting events!”

Everyone on hand would certainly agree. Cardinal’s grand opening and ribbon cutting was held on May 10. It had all of the usual celebratory fanfare for such an event: a tour of the brand new office, opportunities to meet and speak with the team working there, presentation of certificates from elected officials, and a beautiful ribbon cutting in front of the building.

But Cardinal turned it into a street party by inviting many of their neighboring businesses to participate. The street was closed from Canal to near M Street in front of Cardinal’s 512 W. 18th Street offices. Add a trailer sized farm-to-table food display for adults and children, “CF” logo cookies, cupcakes, impressive raffle gifts, music by DJ Zilla and – you’d never guess — a fashion show.

That’s right. A red runway fashion show featuring clothing from Helen & Louise, Kelli’s and H&H on Canal, Merced’s only menswear boutique. All three are new neighbors for Cardinal Financial.

This event was organized by the wives and girlfriend of some Cardinal owners; Rosario Mendez, Monica Mirelez and Rosa Smith. “It was a nice opportunity to get downtown businesses involved and let everyone have a good time on a Friday evening,” the ladies said.

Some of the contributing businesses are Mix Bakery, Natalie Designs, Farmers Insurance- Anissa Fargoso, Leap Carpenter Kemps, Party Animal Co., N&S Tractor, Merced Fire Department, Kelli’s, Helen and Louise, H&H on Canal, JR Tacos, Destino’s , five.ten.bistro, Cold Stone Ice Cream, Toni’s Courtyard and Coffee Bandits.

“The calibre of this event is representative of the way this business operates,” said Annissa Fragoso, Secretary of Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HCC) and owner of Farmers Insurance Agency on Main Street.

Cardinal is owned by four partners: Gilbert Mendez, Dennis Nightengale, Bob Nutcher and Tony Smith. They opened about two years ago but opened the 18th Street office a few months ago. They have an additional office in Chowchilla.

A representative of the Chowchilla Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said they were happy to see a business that wanted to be part of all of the chambers around them. Cardinal joined CCC, HCC and the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce (GMCC), with all three present at their grand opening.

“Cardinal is very active in the chamber and a dependable partner,” said Marty Thomas of GMCC. “They helped with our recent golf tournament and always attend networking events.”

“It’s a strong thing to be involved in the communities where we work,” explained Nightengale. “The chambers give back and we want to help with that.”

Cardinal Financial specializes in mortgages for residential properties from one to four units. Each of the partners has about 15 years of experience.

“Everyone in our office was born local and has lots of experience. This is a growing market that keeps growing. We want to help home buyers get their dream of owning their own homes,” Nightengale continued. “Merced County is one of the most affordable places to live in all of California.”

Following awards from Assemblyman Adam Gray, Congressman Jim Costa’s representative, Mayor Mike Murphy, and the three chambers, Tony Smith took a moment to address the crowd.

“We are excited to be part of Downtown Merced and hope to be here for a very long time,” Smith said. “We live our motto, ‘Build Lifetime Relationships’.”

Smith encouraged everyone to spend their money locally. “This is a nice spread of food, but it’s not dinner. While you’re here, go and have dinner at a local restaurant. Or have a beverage or two. When we buy local everyone wins. It starts with me. It starts with you. If we have a ‘City on the Rise’ it starts with all of us.”

For more information about Cardinal Financial Company visit online at:, or call 205-9538.

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