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Restored Mainzer Theater to celebrate grand opening

Venue to open outdoor dining; work continues on the interior


The historic Mainzer Theater — which has been undergoing a massive restoration project since the start of 2019 — is set for a grand opening next week.

Interior dining and other activities are not going to happen just yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Mainzer is opening its outdoor dining area and offering glimpses of the spectacular new look inside.

Mayor Mike Murphy will lead a “virtual” ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 2:30 p.m., and the event will be streamed live on the Mainzer’s Facebook page. At around 3 p.m., the outdoor dining area will open for residents.

“We asked the mayor to be our first customer because that day will be his birthday,” said Robin Donovan, the general manager of the project. “He plans to come in and eat with his family.”

The Mainzer, located on the corner of Main and N, will be open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays will be served from 9 a.m to 2 p.m.

The venue is able to accommodate 80 people along the sidewalk in front of Main Street and near the Multicultural Arts Center.

Of course the Mainzer is an entertainment venue, so for now, patrons will be treated at times to small street performances from local musicians, including Mikel Soria and Scott Siemiller.

The Mainzer will also be serving wine and cocktails, and offering a “Pour My Beer” system that allows patrons to sample and select from a large variety of beers on their own without a bartender. Customers pay for a card key that will release a beer tap, which than keeps track of how much beer is poured by the ounce. Those utilizing the system can run a traditional tab, or set a hard limit that will stop at a predetermined dollar amount.

On the menu, specialty cuisine created by Chef Quentin Garcia — the executive chef of the famed Blue Note Napa eatery — features succulent fried chicken recipes made in “Southern,” “Nashville” and “Valley” style with a variety of levels of heat.

“Our goal is to be very affordable and provide comfort, but our food is definitely elevated,” Donovan said. “I think our fried chicken is going to really be an amazing example of that.”

On the brunch menu, Donovan quickly pointed out The Mainzer Flatbread, which comes with “a fried egg, bacon, sausage, mozzarella, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, Parmesan white sauce, and roasted garlic.”

To check out the Mainzer’s full menu and offerings, residents can go online to:

Working alongside Chef Garcia is Jerry Perez as the director of Food and Beverage. They both lead a kitchen staff that has already created partnerships with a long list of local food producers, including AV Thomas Produce, Laura Chenel Cheese, Harris Ranch Meats, Live Oak Farms, Marchini Farms Produce, Elkhorn Berry Farms, Nucal Egg, Jantz Bakery, Nunes Farms, Sarabian Farms, Good Life Organic, and Bee Sweet Citrus.

In the future, the Mainzer will open up a game room and a theater.

“We are requiring face masks when your in the building, and we do have a lot of safety protocols ranging from our cleanliness to sanitation stations,” Donovan said. “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, and some of our own.”

She added, “Our whole purpose of being here is to elevate downtown Merced, to give back to our community, and to be part of our community. … We’re very lucky to be able to do this here.”

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