The Mainzer

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The Mainzer lit up at night.

The Mainzer (pronounced MINE-Zer), also known as The Mainzer Theater or The Mainzer-Strand Theater, is a music venue in Merced, California once known for its indie rock scene. It is also recognized by various Art Deco societies[which?] for the restoring and remodeling process which took place beginning in 1999.


The building was constructed in the early 1920s. Around 1931 there was a fire that destroyed a good portion of the interior. The theater has been owned by Golden State Theaters, United California Theaters, and then United Artists. The building was originally a theater for live stage performances. At the time, it was known as The Strand Theater. After years of declining business, the theater became a second-run house, playing old Hollywood blockbusters at discounted rates, again, with little success. Finally the theater was shut down due to lack of business in the mid 1990s. The building remained untouched for years until an investment group headed by Hanz Mainz and Brenda Farley bought the property and started the renovation process.[1][2]

During renovations, the theater was renamed The Mainzer-Strand Theater, with the marquee reading "The Mainzer." The interior of the building was changed by tearing out one of the movie cinemas and adding a large room with a balcony and a stage for all types of events. A small café was installed in the front lobby area. It was the hope of the investors to be able to hold large stage productions, concerts, comedy shows, private receptions, and show independent films in the two remaining cinemas.

In 1999, The Mainzer reopened to a large gala, a few comedy shows, and a few independent films. The attendance was again poor, but this time mainly due to inflated ticket prices for both concerts and films. In 2004, the Art Deco Society of California gave The Mainzer its "Historic Preservation" award for the recent renovations.[3]

In 2006 the end was again looking near for The Mainzer. The investors were struggling to make the mortgage payments and bankruptcy loomed overhead.[citation needed] Finally, a deal was worked out that kept the doors open. A local Merced artist and musician, R.C. Essig, also known in the music world as Radioactive Cauliflower, leased the building from Brenda Farley. By this time, the theater had almost completely stopped showing movies except on rare occasions and has focused on only holding concerts with a mixture of local and national acts.

The KISS Tribute band at The Mainzer Stage.

In the summer/fall of 2006, Essig fought to keep the place an independent, all-ages music venue, but it was a losing effort. The bank decided not to sell the property to Essig, but to another investment group. So after seven years of battling, the Mainzer Theater has finally shut its doors as an independent music venue. As of this time, it is unknown who purchased the building or what they are planning to do with it.

Venue history[edit]

Before R.C. Essig took overall control of the theater, he worked for The Mainzer as their main booking agent. Essig was a recognized booking agent for his work on the Merced indie rock festival, The Gathering of Goodness. Due to this, Essig was able to book many of the same national acts at The Mainzer whenever they were touring California.[citation needed] The Mainzer has gained recognition as a good venue while in California.

While many people considered The mainzer mainly an indie rock venue, it also held many shows in all genres of music from punk to metal to hip-hop.


  1. ^ Price, Tom. "Waiting for The Mainzer". Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mainzer Cinema II". Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Art Deco Society Of California Preservation Awards History (1984 Through 2011)". Art Deco Society Of California. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°18′9.09″N 120°29′10.32″W / 37.3025250°N 120.4862000°W / 37.3025250; -120.4862000