Where I Go: The Specter of the Cinema Café
My Favorite Diner Became a Casualty—and a Warning—of Merced’s ‘City on the Rise’ Ethos
Merced is a place for dreams and new beginnings. At least that’s how it was advertised to me when I moved there from the Bay Area to attend college at the University of California’s newest outpost, a campus intended to serve the Central Valley and invigorate the local economy. If the pursuit of an education brought me there, places like the Cinema Café—a restaurant nestled into the historic Mainzer Theater building—were what made me feel at home.
The café closed just before the pandemic, a victim of Merced’s own success. Ever …