A big change is coming to downtown Lodi after Christmas with the Movie City restaurant becoming Lodi Feed and Fuel.
The restaurant, at the northeast corner of School and Elm streets will become a steak and seafood house with the same menu as the restaurants with the same name in Woodbridge and Clements.
Carol Wallace, who has spent about 40 years in the food service business, said she will take over what is now Movie City sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day.
The good news, buyer and seller say, is that all 22 Movie City employees will keep their jobs, and the restaurant's show-business ambiance will remain.
That includes the Paramount Studios doors, the replica of Marilyn Monroe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, John Wayne memorabilia, pirates and an overhead train set.
Wallace said she also plans to continue Movie City's comedy night on alternate Saturdays.
Movie City owners Bruce and Annette Viel say they weren't looking to sell their restaurant until Wallace made them an enticing offer. The Viels will continue to own the building, which they will rent to Wallace and some upstairs tenants.
Annette Viel said the sale will allow her to be a stay-at-home mom in Lockeford, while Bruce will continue as a real estate investor.
"It was fun; we enjoyed it," Annette Viel said. "This is almost a 24/7 job."
Lodi Feed and Fuel will be Wallace's third area restaurant. She bought Woodbridge Feed and Fuel 10 years ago and opened a similar restaurant in Clements two years ago.
Prior to that, Wallace and her ex-husband owned a large restaurant and nightclub at Tower Park Marina for 27 years.
"My slogan is 'A step into the past,'" Wallace said, describing her restaurants.
"We make a menu by using the inspiration of the restaurant," Wallace said.
The food to be served in the Lodi restaurant will be the same as that at the two other locations, compared to the more casual dining at Movie City, she said. Wallace is exploring the idea of valet parking, Bruce Viel said.
"I think it's going to be a good thing for Lodi," he added.
"I'm going to miss Movie City," Lodi resident Joseph Klipfel said while sitting at the Movie City bar.
Nevertheless, Klipfel is looking forward for Lodi Feed and Fuel to open.
"A change in menu is good," he said. "Steak is my favorite food (at Woodbridge Feed and Fuel), especially pepper steak."
Lodi resident Wayne Bloom, a server and bartender at School Street Bistro a half-block away, patronizes both Movie City and Woodbridge Feed and Fuel. He said he also thinks the ownership change will be positive, though he is curious about what changes will be made to the restaurant.
"I don't feel anybody is in direct competition with anybody," Wallace said, noting the many restaurants in downtown Lodi.
Rosewood, Lodi Beer Co., Saigon Grill and Angelo's, for example, each offer different cuisines, and so will Lodi Feed and Fuel, Wallace said.
Feed and Fuel History"Feed and Fuel" is 19th-century terminology, with "feed" meaning food and "fuel" meaning liquor. Both structures housing the existing Feed and Fuel restaurants and the future Lodi Feed and Fuel have their own local history.
Woodbridge Feed and Fuel, Lower Sacramento Road: Built in 1865, was a stage coach stop with a brothel upstairs.
Clements Feed and Fuel, Highway 12/88: Built in 1880s, was once a train station.
Source: Carol Wallace, Feed and Fuel owner.
First published: Thursday, November 16, 2006