Merced County Times Newspaper
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Times Photos by John Miller

Leaders, residents celebrate new-and-improved ‘Mainzer’


Residents are enjoying the offerings of the newly renovated Mainzer Theater following the official opening last Wednesday.

With strong support from the Greater Merced County Chamber of Commerce, the Mainzer’s ribbon cutting was held virtually in lieu of a traditional in-person event due to an abundance of caution and COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

However, the special event allowed residents the ability to view a “live stream” of the event on Facebook — including a video tour of the entertainment venue with Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. Those who tuned into the coverage were counted in a fundraiser that is expected to send up to $5,000 to the Merced County Boys and Girls Club

Robin Donovan, the managing director of the Mainzer, thanked residents for tuning into the event and introduced Virginia Hayward, CEO of the Merced County Boys and Girls Club; and Michelle Allison, the board chair for the club.

“The Mainzer was built in 1920, and so what better way to renovate and open than by celebrating a 100-year anniversary,” Donovan said. “We’re so pleased to be a part of this downtown.”

Donovan also praised the nearby Main Street developments of the restored Tioga apartment building and the soon-to-be-opened El Capitan Hotel. “We’re beyond excited to help revitalize and bring to life the downtown.”

Mayor Murphy was quick to express the city’s gratitude for the newly completed project.

“This project and the other projects that you’ve mentioned show vision and execution. There was a vision to see beyond a structure that was underutilized,” said Mayor Murphy. “It breathes a breath of fresh air into our downtown and brings together both a service and an amenity for our residents. It’s a sign of additional good things to come.”

Murphy thanked Donovan for the project’s attention to detail, saying that it will be clear to residents that consideration was taken to make sure that the Mainzer and other projects would genuinely fit into and complement downtown Merced.

Mayor Murphy was led through the building as part of a special tour, and he was named the theater’s first customer. It was a nice gesture on what happened to be the mayor’s birthday on the day of the grand opening.

In addition to the revamped historic marquee along the facade of the historic building, the interior features a traditional 1920s art deco aesthetic, with updates made as needed during the restoration. The work was designed to remain true to the Mainzer’s historic roots. Adorning the walls is the work of numerous artists from the local area, featuring themes of music and movies. There are also new spaces for entertainment games such as skee-ball that will be available once indoor dining and gathering are permitted.

The Mainzer restaurant is open for outdoor dining, and features upscale family cuisine on the menu. There’s plenty of food and drink options, along with an innovative “Pour Your Own Beer” system for adult fans of specialty brews.

“Our goal is to always have something for everybody,” said Donovan. “We take approachable food, elevate it, and have it at a very good price. We want to have everyone feel welcome, like they can come down to the Mainzer. We’re here to make you happy.”

She added, “In the future, we will have a game room, and a theater and stage. And so we went back to the old-school roots of how it was when you would go to a theater and would order your candy and popcorn upfront, but it’s elevated with better food and a bar. We had to shift gears a little bit with COVID-19. We never planned on being outside only, but you have to row the boat you are in, and we’re hoping we’re rowing it to a success.”

She went on to say that the Mainzer Theater is currently “requiring face masks when you’re in the building, and we do have a lot of safety protocols ranging from our cleanliness to sanitation stations. We have a plethora of them, both inside and outside. In addition to following all of the protocols put out by the county and the state, we also have some of our own.”

The Mainzer Theater will be open 7 days a week, and serving their lunch and dinner menu from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Brunch will be served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with the restaurant serving their normal lunch and dinner menu outside of those hours. To check out the Mainzer’s full menu and offerings, residents can log onto

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