In a possible sign of pandemic recovery, three new downtown eateries set to emerge in place of one closed restaurant, The Mark

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The pandemic is likely to fade away in bits and pieces as the country gradually returns to normalcy. One positive sign is schools opening; another is businesses returning — and a great example of that is at the corner of 19th and H streets in downtown Bakersfield: a 120-plus-year-old building about to come back to life in a reimagined form.

It’s been a fixture at that prominent downtown street corner for decades, but most recent incarnation, the fine dining restaurant known as The Mark, has been locked tight for months. Now, as the nation eases away from pandemic restrictions that have relegated many restaurants to take-out only — and empty tables inside  —  property owner Bryan Oberg is ready to open it up again  — with a major facelift.

He and his partners are well into efforts carve out not one, not two, but three new restaurants in the downtown building a block from the Padre Hotel — one or more of them possibly opening as early as May at the site of a 19th century building that has housed everything from horse stables to a gentlemen’s club of questionable reputation. 

Oberg, who plans to operate the space in the middle of the three as a restaurant and whiskey bar, is about to start soliciting tenants and recouping his $750,000 renovation investment.

The most visible and architecturally intriguing restaurant will be the westernmost one that will open onto H Street, catty-corner from the Padre.

“What we intend on doing with this space is making it something that Bakersfield and downtown doesn’t have,” he said. “We have this amazing loft area where we’re standing right now.The brick is all original. We’re gonna open up all the arches and take it back to what it was in the early 1900s.

Real estate broker Adrian Diniz is working with Oberg on the project.

“The last year we’ve been busy at work with architects and contractors,” he said, “remodeling the building into three different spaces to be filled with restaurants to bring some nightlife down to downtown Bakersfield.”

Kern County Assessor’s records list the property as dating back to 1930 but Oberg found a for-sale listing for a building on that site dated 1899, when it was a horse stable — and the outmoded, disconnected electrical wiring appears to have been added after construction, probably in the 1920s.

The building has a rich history — at one time it was a gentlemen’s club called the Plush Cat. Twenty years ago it was a Greek restaurant, Kosmos, and later a sports bar, Goose Loonies. Now, post-Mark, this part of Bakersfield, this place Where We Live, will be getting something else. Three somethings.

The building many of us know as The Mark, a fine dining restaurant that closed about a year ago, is not coming back in the same form as before, but it is coming back, and that’s a good sign — a sign that the pandemic might finally be on its way out.

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