Another Merced eatery shuts down. But new businesses on the horizon

A sign on the door of Bobcat Diner on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2019, said the darkened business has closed.
A sign on the door of Bobcat Diner on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2019, said the darkened business has closed.

After less than two years in Merced, it appears the Bobcat Diner has closed for good.

City officials said the owner has not filed any official paperwork with the finance department, but noted a sign placed in the window of the 755 E. Yosemite Ave. eatery says the business is closed.

“Bobcat Diner did not reach out to us regarding their closure, nor did they file anything with our finance department,” Economic Development Associate Maria Mendoza said in an email. “All that we heard was that the closed sign was posted before Christmas.”

Calls by the Sun-Star to the restaurant have gone unanswered, as have emails and Facebook messages. No employees appear to be inside the darkened building, which still sported a Christmas tree this month near the front window.

The diner, which offered skillets, sandwiches, beer and beef stew, opened on Feb. 4, 2017, according to its Facebook page on Wednesday. The page also showed the owner did significant improvements to the building.

By Thursday, the diner’s Facebook page was deleted.

With menus that looked like scouting manuals and walls covered in maps of Yosemite National Park, the restaurant tapped into Merced’s connection to the park, as well as UC Merced’s bobcat mascot.

Still, there are some positive business developments in Merced — particularly on the retail front.

The Merced Mall is set to go before the Planning Commission next week for its first approval of plans for upgrades there, according to Frank Quintero, the city’s economic development director.

The planned upgrade, which calls for the addition of trendy restaurants and venues, could add as much as 90,000 square feet and a second floor to the mall, according to the mall’s owner.

The long empty Orchard Supply Hardware building has a potential new tenant lining up, Quintero said, but declined to name the business. “Usually when you’re going through the site plan review process you have a tenant that’s about as close to being firm as you can possibly get as the property owner,” he said.

The former Hibachi Grill, which was closed for about five months, recently re-opened as Champion Grill Buffet.

Quintero said his departments routinely gets interest from developers looking at empty sites at Childs and Parsons avenues, as well as in the downtown.

The past couple of months have not been good for diners as Cinema Cafe is also set to close after the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday.

Cinema Cafe on the corner of N and Main streets is inside the Mainzer Theater, which is soon to be refurbished. But, cafe owner Gerardo Olvera said, the eatery isn’t included in the theater’s plans.

Olvera said he’s looking into finding a new location.

Many readers said they’re sad to see it go. “Dude! No way! I hope you guys find a new place,” Bill Dunning said on Facebook. “I love your food! Always have had a great experience at your restaurant.”

Matt Wallace perhaps had the most extreme reaction on Facebook: “I’m never eating breakfast again then.”