Modesto, California, United States
Opened in 1954 and closed in 2020.
Minnie's was a Polynesian restaurant with immense charm, and was deservedly beloved by many. The Chinese food was typically dressed-up (for instance, the appetizers were labelled "tidbits of delight"), but the shocker here was that the food was actually fairly good. The restaurant featured carvings and artwork throughout, most notably a large number of beautiful oil and black velvet paintings by the Leeteg-esque artist Tyree.
There were two bars at Minnie's: a vast outdoor patio bar, and a dimly lit indoor bar encrusted with dollar bills and business cards all over the walls and ceiling, left by patrons over the years. The tropical cocktails at Minnie's left something to be desired, but it was about as good as you were likely to find in Modesto anyhow.
Parking was free in the lot at the rear of the restaurant. After dinner service closed, the front door to Minnie's was locked, and you entered the bar using the rear parking lot entrance (there was no sign at the front to let you know this, unfortunately).
Minnie's was just down the road from the Tropics Motel and Tiki Lounge.
The following is according to the Modesto Bee:
Sacramento-based owner TJ Bruce and his Splash Bar, Inc., took over from Stuart Mah at the start of 2018. Mah’s family had run Minnie’s as a Chinese restaurant and tiki bar since 1962, when they bought the business from original owners Hop Louie and his wife Minnie Woo — the spot’s namesake. Bruce ran Minnie's basically as it was for a year before closing the restaurant portion in 2019. In January 2020 he decided to close Minnie's and transform it into another of his Splash Bar dance club locations.
However, according to Bruce, the site’s tiki look will not be changing. Bruce said much of its existing theme fits in with the Splash Bar concept.
“We like that it’s kitschy, and tiki is a fun thing for bars,” he said.
So expect the large wooden tiki-head totems outside to remain in place, as will much of the interior and exterior look — save for some painting and needed updating. They plan to install a dedicated dance floor in the half-partitioned space in front of the bar area, as well as more video screens throughout.
The bar’s signature velvet paintings of nude Polynesian women were taken down after it was sold, as were its large fish tanks. But Bruce said he still has them and they may make a reappearance in the new Splash Bar.
But all those old dollar bills that have lined the bar’s walls for decades are coming down.
The new Splash Bar will have drag shows every Friday night as well as themed nights for karaoke, throwback nights and more. The weekends will have video DJs spinning music.
No one has visited this tiki bar.