Minnies Restaurant & Bar

By Kate Serpa
Minnie’s is the oldest bar in Modesto. The house itself was built in 1901 and served as
a doctor’s house and office. The house was moved from next door and converted into a
restaurant and lounge in 1954 by Hop and Minnie Louie. Peter and Stuart Mah are the cooperators
of the establishment and candidly told me that “supposedly” their father long ago
won the house in a poker game, but I’m never one to spread stories. On that note, there
have also been a number of ghost reportings in the old house..

The origin of the Jerk: Peter Mah, owner of Minnie’s, was serving a group of…less than charming ‘gentlemen.’

They, very politely I am sure, ordered
Peter to concoct something new just for
them. Peter came up with a fruity, cold,
and very pink mixture with a secret shot
of 151 cleverly hidden in the straw. The
drink’s appearance was likely a bit of
a blow the gentlemen’s sensitive egos,
however the group’s reaction to the
first sip was quite a throwback surprise.
“They didn’t know what hit them,” stated
the drink’s creator. As the group of
lovely gentlemen exited the lounge, Peter
remarked: “What a bunch of jerks!”
And lo, ModestoView readers, thanks
to an assembly of jerks, a drink legend
was born.
There was a period of time where
I did not talk about or take a soul to
Minnie’s. I was convinced I had found
the crowning jewel of Modesto’s bars
and I was not about to start sharing it
with anyone. Turns out, I didn’t have
to tell anyone about Minnie’s because
the place is such a people-magnet, especially
during the summer, that the bar
and patio is continuously full from open
to close. And why wouldn’t it be? Have
you ever paired your pot-stickers with
a jerk on that terrific back patio? It is a
huge slice of freaking heaven. How do
you not share something you love?
Diane Marcuerquiaga is, by all my
standards, an amazing bartender and
has the amazing ability to guess who
is coming into the bar by what time
it is and the sound of their footsteps,
thus the Jerk waiting for me when I arrived.
Minnie’s patrons are a committed
bunch, and rightfully so. My bar
side friend told me he is the fourth generation
of his family to visit Minnie’s
regularly. When asked what the draw is,
he stated: “Diane camaraderie during
angry hour.” Angry hour? Nearly every
angry hour, and it all starts on Diane’s
call. “All the drinks go up a dollar,” Diane
joked. Joking aside, however, my
anonymous bar friend is correct, the afternoon
regulars come for Diane, angry
hour or not.
Interesting anecdote: Next time
you’re at a cocktail party and want to
impress the hell out of everyone, just
whip out this gem of a fact courtesy of
Diane: One may notice the number of
patron-name-bearing dollar bills tacked
up around the bar inside. I even have a
bill with my name up on the wall somewhere.
The notion of sticking up a dollar
with your John Hancock on a barroom
wall is no recent trend. Originally, merchant
marines would take up a namemarked
bill so whenever they returned
to a previously visited bar, they always
had quick cash for a drink with…you
guessed it…their name on it. Sticking
with the tiki-bar atmosphere, the bills
are a fun addition to an already fun bar.
107 McHenry Ave.
Modesto, CA

About the Author:

Kate Serpa does not live in Modesto, CA, nor does she attend court-reporting school. She has not played for the piano for a number of years and she is definitely not excited about helping out at the McHenry Museum. She detests drinking, bar hopping, and late night adventures, and thinks girls who dye their hair red are disgraceful. She has absolutely zero sense of humor and is boring as hell.