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Minnie's Restaurant, Modesto, CA (restaurant)

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Name:Minnie's Restaurant
Type:Restaurant, Bar & large outside patio with bar
Street:107 McHenry Ave.
Website: http://www.minniesmodesto.com

PolyAsian style with lots of tikis, located at the 5 points intersection where McHenry Ave. begins.

Updated to show website.

[ Edited by: Jungle Trader 2009-02-23 08:56 ]

The owners tend the inside bar Thurs. and Fri. nights. This is the only Tiki related restaurant in Modesto. On a scale of 1 to 4 the food and drink get a 2 1/2 to 3. Forget about music Exotica. Generally the Juke Box rules, occassional live pop music. You'll just have to dig the beautiful people.

[ Edited by: jungletrader on 2003-08-03 23:18 ]

Hey JT,
The women look mighty fine too.
I like how you "accidently" clipped off the text on Minnie's sign.

Honestly, I hadn't noticed that till you mentioned it. Photography is an amazing art form. The Human brain is also very amazing. When viewing images (not you, your brain) the brain will "fill in" images that have been "excluded". There's a word for it, I think, just can't remember. Ahh, the amazing forgetful brain.

Not you dude. It just takes a warped mind to acknowledge such a thing, and that's what I'm here for. No charge. :)


Minnies is great! I met JungleTrader there one night for dinner and drinks and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is truly a classic old school joint and worth getting off I-5 for a Tiki detour. Just make sure and let JT know you're coming. I think he gets lonely out there.

Wow, this place looks amazing!! I might be heading up that way soon, thanks for the info!

Welcome to TC Atomicchick.

It was a pleasure to meet new TC members Tikicleen and her hubby recently at Minnie's. We were once again given a tour by fellow local carver Mick. Apparently Tikicleen is a huge mug collector... (well she's not huge like a big person or anything like that) but she knows mugs and a lot of history behind them. Hope to meet other members up here sometime and stay in touch wit da' locals. Good to talk story with you Tikicleen. Hopefully we can suck 'em up wit Tikivixen soon also.


Went to Minnie's a couple of weeks ago (was on vacation up north). Spent most of the night there but forgot the camera. Went back the next morning and the owner was nice enough to let us in to take some pics. Here's some of the pics I took...

Mugs, vintage, bars, hand carved poles, apparel and more!
Everything Tiki at: http://www.bartiki.com

[ Edited by: Tiki Matt on 2004-07-21 17:39 ]

I just updated the first post to show Minnie's website. Still a cool place and as old as the Mai Kai. Go there.

Great, thanks. Authentic Tiki bars like this are certainly a rarity nowadays, so go whenever you can. To hear about the theft and selling of some of the velvets kills me. Their collection was jaw-dropping, just check out the ones under the Tyree Story on their website, Leeteg was tame in comparison.

Matchbook from Minnie's.

Wish the old pics where still there. Anybody been lately?


Mahalo Dustycajun. The old pictures, for the time being, just check out there website. I'll check my files and see if I still have any.

We stopped by for a visit on our way down to Tiki Oasis this year. Here's a couple photos.

I was on Tiki safari yesterday and returned with these pictures of Minnie,s. I didn't have extra lighting with me so some of shots were challenging. There were also things like glass reflection and cramped space to shoot in so with these limitations this is what I got.

Thank you Stuart Mah for your hospitality. Minnie's is definitely a must see for any Nor Cal Tiki road trip.

This first post will be Minnie's Tikis

Here are the pics of Minnie's paintings.


Awesome pics abstract.Thank you so much for taking the time to photograph all those
Minnies tiki and paintings for us all to enjoy.

Nice work, David. An interesting mixture of new and old Tikis.
It's pretty amazing that after all these years, the two ORIGINAL Tikis are still standing in the frontyard!:

Only in a dry desert climate! I doubt that outrigger canoe that was still in the front when I went by like ten years ago is still there....

Yea, those old Tikis are really great. There was a huge canoe in the patio but I didn't photograph it. I will next time I'm there. It was about 13ft long or so.

Here are more pics, I took one of each Item, but here were so many items its taking a while to get them posted.

Here are the weapons, miniature outrigger canoe and lamps. Stuart said he had one of those lamps from the Islander,the ones in the bank of Stockton picture, but he gave it away a long time ago.

Ha, those Hermann Miller lamps are so smokestained they look like they have tanned animal hides stretched over their frames. Now that is patina!

OK here are the masks and some other items.

Bigbro wrote - "Ha, those Hermann Miller lamps are so smokestained they look like they have tanned animal hides stretched over their frames. Now that is patina!"

Those are the ones that Stuart's Mother and Brother purchased from the Islander when it closed in 82. There are some close ups pics in the Hop Louie Islander thread that I posted a few days ago.

This is the last of the pictures. Stuart said this second floor bar is unchanged and all original. He also said this green screen stuff in the second picture below is the same type as was used in the Stockton Islander.

What great old masks! More about that "green screen stuff" :) :


Thanks for the photos!

Those George Nelson Bubble Lamps look like they've soaked up a lot of nicotine over the years.

Ooops, mixed up my mid-century mod sources! :) Nelson was the designer, Miller the store. That's like mixing up Barney West and O.A..! Tiz tiz!

Ooops for me too - I missed reading your earlier post about the lamps, Bigbro - I wasn't trying to correct you, just noticing the same thing you noticed. Our minds must think similarly.

Bigbro wrote- "What great old masks! More about that "green screen stuff" :

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=24050&forum=1 "

Wow, that's a very in interestingly cool thread, I never would have thought this green screen stuff had its own thread and such history!

Awesome work Abstract. Minnie's is now on my must see list for my next trip up north.

Is the upstairs bar open all the time or just for events!


Thanks Dusty!

Its for special dinner events and private parties but im sure if you asked Stuart he would give you a little tour.

Here is a old Minnie's Receipt book and Napkin that Stuart gave me.


Here's the Minnie's Modesto menu :


Stolen from Minnie's. These were on display for sale on the back patio. The thieves scaled the 10 ft. block wall to get them. 55 inches tall Burnt Ku Kona Style Also a 43 inch Moai stolen but I failed to photograph it. One of Mick's tikis was also stolen. Bummed.


Sorry to hear that Vic. I never knew tikis could be traded for meth but hey...I guess stranger things have gone on in Modesto these days.

That really sucks. I curse those thieves. There are just to many people that have no respect for others property, it's sad.

Not sure where the Modesto and meth idea ties in. Tikis were stolen. That's a fact, everything else is conjecture. Stick to the facts. Thanks David and Liz.

I just picked up a couple of nice match boxes from the "New" Minnie's featuring the signature
Tiki logo.


Breakfast clubbers this morning, Duane, Diana, Marlene, Debbie, Sandy aka Corona Contessa, you are a fun gal, and myself. Thanks for coming down, over. Hopefully we can do more there this year. Thanks for supporting Minnie's.

We had a blast at Minnies...definitely will make the trek again for brunch with the local yokels. Diana & Duane...your place is awesome...great ribs!!! Here we are next to Vic's Mr. Rootball.

Glad to see the TC Ohana supporting the local Tiki establishments.

Here is a little more Minnie's history.

An article discussing the change in ownership in 1962 when Minnie and Hop Louie sold the place.

And a great old ad with that Tiki.


Nice work DC, I searched Modesto Bee archives many times and came up with very little on Minnie's. I always new there had to be something out there.

An article from the Modesto Bee regarding the new owners of Minnie's.


It’s the end of an era at Minnie’s, but don’t worry it looks like its jerks are here to stay.

One of Modesto’s most iconic restaurants and bars was just sold after 55 years of ownership by the Mah family. The distinctive tiki-themed Chinese food establishment first opened in 1955 at the base of McHenry Avenue. Since then it has become one of the city’s longest-running family owned eateries known for its eclectic decor, which includes black velvet nude paintings of Polynesian women and ancient dollar bills stapled to the walls, and its strong drinks — particularly its signature pink cocktail known as the “jerk.”
An ownership change permit posted in Minnie’s front window late this week lists the new owner as Splash Bar, Inc. According to the California domestic corporation registry, the owner of Sacramento-based Splash Bar Inc. is Trelawny J. Bruce. His company runs bars and nightclubs in Sacramento and San Jose which cater largely to an LGBTQ clientele. Some of his other properties include Badlands in Sacramento and Splash Video Dance Bar in San Jose.
This will be a rare major ownership change in Minnie’s almost 63 years of continuous operation. The move comes after longtime owner Stuart Mah retired at the beginning of the year and sold the property and business. His family bought Minnie’s in 1962 from its original owners, Hop Louie and his wife Minnie Woo — the spot’s namesake.
After news of Stuart’s retirement and Minnie’s sale began to circulate just before the New Year, a post on the Minnie’s Facebook page sought to quell anxieties. It reads, “To our Minnie’s Family: Your continued support is appreciated. As usual, RUMORS are flying!! MINNIE’S IS NOT CLOSING!!!!! Stuart IS retiring and we will change ownership soon. Further details are not available to you because WE don’t know what, if any, changes are going to occur. Please stay patient and don’t panic. We will let you know as soon as we know. AGAIN, we are not closing and we, very much, appreciate your continued support.”
The new owner completed escrow this week and has met with staff. The restaurant and bar had been closed since Monday for inventory. A subsequent Facebook post promised it would reopen on Friday and that “the new owners are excited to begin a new adventure with our beloved Minnies!!” Indeed the lights were back on Friday evening and manager Diane Marcuerquiaga confirmed the bar would be open through the weekend.
Marcuerquiaga also said the new owner plans to keep the current staff, many of whom have been with Minnie’s for well over a decade — if not much longer — including its veteran bartenders Sheri Midori Perry and Jozi Olguin.
The sale marks another chapter in the often colorful history of the property at 107 McHenry Avenue. According to Modesto Bee archives it was built in the early 1910s as a six-room bungalow family home and remained a private residence until about 1940. Then it began renting rooms as a boarding house and continued to do so until the Woo family purchased the building in 1954. Before that it also briefly housed a doctor’s office and the short-lived Tea Time Gift Shop.
The Woos celebrated the grand opening of Minnie’s Restaurant March 29, 1955. Advertisements in The Bee at the time touted its “Chinese and American foods of distinction” and an “atmosphere redolent of the languorous Trade Winds.” Then in the early 1960s the Woos sold to the Mah family, and in turn opened up The Islander Chinese restaurant in Stockton. New Minnie’s owners Kwock Nan Mah and his wife Eleanor Mah immigrated from China in 1950 and worked at various Chinese food establishments before buying the Modesto site.
They ran the restaurant until 1975 when Kwock Nan passed away and his sons, Peter and Stuart, took over. Elder brother Peter became the face of the restaurant for the next nearly 40 years. It was also Peter who created the infamous “jerk,” a potent concoction made with sherbet, light and dark rum and a splash of 151-proof rum poured down the straw. The legend goes that in the mid 1980s he mixed up the drink to silence two particularly obnoxious customers, hence the name.
Peter passed away unexpectedly just before Christmas in 2013 after a bout with pneumonia. His younger brother Stuart, now 58, took over after his death and ran it until its sale this week. When contacted, Stuart declined to comment on the sale or his retirement.
After news of the sale and retirement broke, fans of Minnie’s expressed sorrow and congratulations online. Many hoped the place would keep is tiki charm. Regulars also expressed strong support for its long-serving staff.
As someone who has spent more than a few nights inside Minnie’s darkened walls and had more than a few jerks on its bamboo-thatched patio, I can say it would be a shame to make wholesale changes to this funky, familiar valley institution. There’s a reason I named it one of the Top 10 most iconic places to eat and drink in Modesto last fall. But, if the new owner feels like refreshing and reinvigorating the establishment, I’m all for it. Aging gracefully is great, but sometimes an old dame could use a nip and a tuck or a lift and a scrub — especially one whose bones are well over 100 years old.
So long live the jerk. Rude customers, well, that’s another matter.

Thanks for sharing the article Lori. Here is an early menu from Minnie's with a nice message from Minnie Woo on the back.


Well folks, Minnie’s will officially have it’s last call this weekend. While it has kept its name for two years under corporate management, it has been slowly dismantled into the shell that now stands. Splash Bar will rebrand the place into a dance club, yet will keep “tiki theming.” The kitchen closed a while back, in which the place serves strictly booze. They will keep “the jerk”, but I’m not certain what else. Supposedly the velvets are in storage currently. During this last call weekend, they are encouraging patrons to take a dollar off the wall as a keepsake of Minnie’s.

Sad to see an original tiki place be stripped of its character.

Aloha Minnie’s :(

got [url=http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?forum=1&topic=15550]tiki

[ Edited by: Tikicleen 2020-01-26 06:26 ]

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