By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Atmosphere defines small dining destination
HistoryLocalBiz Finleys 3
Greg Lewis and Michael Parmenter, seated in a linen-covered table, wait for their lunch orders on Wednesday at Finleys Bar &Grill. At left is the bar area. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin

Greg Lewis and Michael Parmenter sat in a table for two halfway between the bar and the main dining area of Finley’s Bar and Grill. The two friends from Stockton are having lunch on the last day of 2014. They are among the regulars who have discovered this out-of-the-way modest-looking bar and grill on Airport Way between Lathrop Road and French Camp Road.

While this small dining destination and bar is seemingly nondescript in appearance, it’s a different story once you come in through the narrow front door. It feels as though you are being welcomed into a cozy home, instead of a business establishment, full of visual attractions that hearken to historic and nostalgic bygone times.

The décor, which literally takes you on a visual tour from the floor to the ceiling, includes large photographs in their original frames, an antique cash register that appears to have once graced a Gold Rush establishment, an antique piano, old and ornate wall sconces, equally ornate chandeliers, taxidermy, and many others reminiscent of the good old days. Lending a classy atmosphere to the cozy and homey atmosphere are the linen-covered dining tables that include ones that can seat up to 10 people, and a few romantic tables for two. Mullioned windows and a multi-paned glass door leading to a lush garden on the south side of the dining place lend an airy and spacious feel to the small but cozy dining areas.

Outside the door is a lush garden and sitting area with grassy lawns which was once used for weddings but has not been open for such events in a while.

“The atmosphere is great!” said Parmenter as he and Lewis got ready to enjoy their lunch orders placed on white china plates.

That’s just one of the reasons they frequent this restaurant that is situated in the middle of mainly farming areas, added Lewis. The restaurant is on the corner of Fisk Road on Airport Way which is several-minutes’ drive from Stockton, Manteca and Lathrop.

“It’s kind of like stepping back in time,” said Deborah Finley of her restaurant and bar’s décor theme. “Everything is done in an old-fashioned way.”

“We’re a small restaurant, family-owned business,” added Finley who has owned the business since 1993.

Before that, it was owned by the Tally family, she said. But there was no restaurant then. “It was just beer and wine,” said Finley who is married to Mark Uecker of Manteca. She is the sole owner of the business and has owned it for quite a while before their marriage.

“We’re casual. It’s not really fine dining but we have excellent food. You can come as you are, have a few drinks, and just relax,” she invited.

“It’s really a nice casual atmosphere with good conversation. And we never have any problem here. We’re never had the Sheriff here in 21 years. And we have nice parking. It’s a little nice place,” added Finley.

And while Finley’s has attracted attraction in recent years, thanks to television coverage about paranormal incidents at this old place, the bar and grill is equally popular for its gastronomical offerings.

She has high praises for Stacy Collin, the restaurant chef.

“None of our food is processed. Everything is made from scratch,” Finley said with pride.

The restaurant, which can seat up to 48 people, offers a full menu – from steak, chicken, pasta dinner, prime rib – “lots of different hamburgers and steak sandwiches,” she said.

Among the restaurant’s regular visitors are members of the E Clampus Vitus whose name is proudly displayed on top of the roadside sign. If you see the large letters ECV on top of the sign, that’s what it means.

Finley’s Bar & Grill is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s closed on Sundays. To get there from Manteca, take the northbound Airport Way to Fisk Road past Lathrop and Roth roads, and on to the intersection at Fisk Road. For other details, call 209.983.9493.