BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Perhaps you remember the building as The Mark or as one of its previous incarnations, like Goose Loonies. Now it’s two completely different restaurants – soon to add a third at the corner of 19th and H streets.
For 75 years – that’s almost half its life – the west end of the building, known as Empire Stables, has been nothing more than an empty time capsule. But things are changing as downtown Bakersfield continues to evolve.
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Business partners Bryan Oberg and Adrian Diniz have embarked on phase three of the renovation of the 19th-century building, which is thought to have once served as stables for the city fire department’s horse-drawn fire wagons. At one point it was also a gentlemen’s club of questionable reputation.
Renovations started in mid-2020 and today it’s home to two restaurants, both facing onto 19th Street – Zama Latin American Cuisine and Cask Strength Bar & Kitchen, a whiskey bar that Oberg himself operates. In a year, perhaps a bit longer, it’ll have a third unit that opens onto H Street.
“I’m working on opening up doorways, getting arches put in, patio, sidewalks – and then we’ll take it to market,” Oberg said.
They’re excited to bring some history back downtown.
“What’s kinda cool is this building is [so old] – we’re not 100% sure, 1890s, 1903-ish,” Diniz said. “These are the original arches, you can see them from the inside. We decided to save those, blow them out. They’re approximately 20 feet tall. We’ll have three of them, an entrance and just a ton of light coming into the building.”
There will be an outdoor patio running the full length of the building going down H Street – enticing to passing traffic and, hopefully, guests of the Padre Hotel, catty-corner to the southwest.
“I love the building, the history, the shape, the architecture, stuff that you get in older cities,” Oberg said. “They don’t build buildings now the way that they used to.”
Oberg says the new space – capacity of about 250 can be anything a brewery, a restaurant, a nightclub.
“Bakersfield is growing in a lot of different directions but this is the heart of Bakersfield,” Diniz said. “It’s downtown, it’s very accessible to a lot of different sections of town and we’re just excited to be here and put this type of product on the market.”
Check back in about a year. If all goes according to plan, one more piece of old Bakersfield history will have come back to life.