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Dan Gray recently opened The Old Corner Bar at the intersection of Main and Merced streets in downtown Newman.

NEWMAN - A historic building which stood vacant in recent years has new life as a cocktail lounge and sports bar.

Veteran restaurant owner Dan Gray opened “The Old Corner Bar” in mid-November in a renovated building at Main and Merced streets which last operated as a dry cleaning shop.

The building, owned by Manish Thakkar, underwent a complete remodeling in preparation for the opening.

Gray told Mattos Newspapers that he has had an interest in opening a bar in Newman but was unable to find a suitable location until the former Model Cleaners building came up as a possibility.

Thakkar remodeled the shell of the building and he completed the interior, Gray said. A patio area was added as well.

The process started in April.

While he had initially hoped to be open in time for the Fall Festival, Gray said the end result was worth the wait of a few extra months.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to end up this nice. It turned out excellent.”

The bar offers a casual, positive atmosphere with the feel of a neighborhood gathering spot where all patrons can feel comfortable, Gray noted.

Several television sets allow guests to follow all the football action.

“People can come here and watch whatever NFL game they want to watch,” he said.

The establishment offers a limited menu of wings, pizza, pretzels and the like, and may expand the fare in the future. In the absence of a full kitchen, Gray said, the bar will stick with lighter bar food items rather than offering a full restaurant menu.

The name of the establishment is derived from the building’s heritage, which Gray said dates back to the 1800s.

“The original name was the Old Corner Hotel and Bar,” he explained, noting that the hotel once stood next to corner building which now houses the bar.

Gray is past owner of a number of Newman ventures, including Pizza Dan’s, Coffee Dan’s and The Grille in Newman. He also owns Mil’s Bar and Grill in Patterson.