Cafe Midi on Maroa and Fern

Pulling into the Mars Drive-in for a Lime Rickey. Ordering up a burger from the car hop at the A&W on Blackstone. Checking out the action at Bob's Big Boy. Your favorite grilled cheese sandwich at the Woolworths Counter. Don't forget loading up at Perry Boys Smorgy. What eats do you miss?

Cafe Midi on Maroa and Fern

Post by tdsober » Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:32 pm

Remember Cafe Midi on Maroa? Many may remember the one in Fig Garden, they moved over there when they lost their lease in the Tower District. But when they moved, they left the magic behind as well. Cafe Midi on Maroa was a very special place and being next to the Tower Theater made it extra cool. I was too young to drink coffee when I first went to Cafe Midi but that didn't stop me from ordering my first espresso there. It was what Cafe Midi was famous for in Fresno. I guess that Fresno had espresso machines in lots of other places too, but in the 60's I never heard of any other place that was hip that served it.

Their really delicious menu item was their French Burger - Yum! I also used to order some sandwich on rye, not sure which. I never went there to listen to music but I understand they had that at the Maroa location as well. By the time I was a senior, I was a regular at Cafe Midi. After graduation was when they moved over to Fig Garden and I dutifully patronized their new location. But as I said before, it was not only not the same but they completely lost the cool factor. The storefront facility had just been built and I guess it was the old, broken down feel of the older place that gave the Maora location its' special charm. I miss you Cafe Midi.
cafe midi.jpg
Click to Enlarge / Fresno Bee - April 23, 1970


Post by orangeogre » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:28 am

Yes. I remember it well: Attending Fresno City College, 1965-66, then hanging at Midi with my friends. I was long gone by the time Midi moved to Fig Garden.


Post by mjc » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:28 am

The corner of Fern and Maroa will never be the same. Cafe Midi's near neighbour was the Tower House, famed for its dry roquefort salad dressing, the recipe for which was published in Gourmet Magazine. With Chrisman's, Chicken Pie Shop, Carnation Ice Cream, the Olive Tower Coffee Shop, and just to the south, the New Rendevous, there was plenty of good eating in the Tower District, circa 1960. BTW- 'orangeogre'- did you have anything to do with an 'alternative' bookstore a few years ago?


Re: Cafe Midi, the one on Maroa

Post by AnotherSteve » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:31 pm

The Cafe Midi was owned by Mort. At one point Mort took in a partner and they opened the Fig Garden restaurant. Mort's partner discouraged the clientele from the Tower District from patronizing the Fig Garden location, they wanted it to be more "adult" and more of a dinner place than a coffee shop. The two restaurants co-existed for quite a while. It seemed like everyone you wanted to see would be at the Cafe Midi sometime during the evening. Counter staff were great, interesting people as well.

Mort sold out and moved to the Bay Area to become a writer and, I believe, managed the snack bar at a White Front up there. Mort was always encouraging people to continue their education, to read and be creative. There was, of course, live music, film nights and, early on, books and magazines for sale there. I was always taking notes on their cards.

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Post by Rodney » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:58 pm

I only went into Cafe Midi once or twice, but what I'll never forget is walking over to the cigarette machine (remember those?) and having the guy behind the counter run out and demand to see ID (I was 16 or 17). That was the only time anyone ever tried to stop me from buying cigarettes. How long ago was that? They cost a quarter a pack back then!!!


Post by Carol » Mon May 23, 2011 10:56 am

WOW Café Midi that was an exciting place! I was a newly graduated high school student if I remember correctly and back then Fresno was still considered to be a country town. When the Café opened they had racks on the walls with magazines, books and newspapers from all around the world. I was so impressed! It was so different for our “one Pony town”, like a little piece of Height Ashbury there in the Tower. There were a lot of caricatures in there reading and drinking their exotic coffees, or so we thought back then. There was a professor looking person in slacks, cross-legged reading a foreign magazine, a rebellious looking college student that looked like he was ready to demonstrate against Viet Nam.

That new look of a glassy eyed drop out hung-over from the last hallucinate he’d taken, an old hermit, serious college students, some business people from the surrounding area and just looky-lus like me taking it all in with my post adolescent mind imagining stories about each character I stared at. I remember eating an unusual sandwich with sprouts on it and a coke as I had not yet developed a taste for coffee. This place gave me a feeling that I was part of something, a movement, a piece of a big city like San Francisco. It turned out to be like a cult of regulars that just kept going back and hanging out. Even the outside of the café was unusual for Fresno with its acid-rock handbills and underground student meeting flyers taped on the windows.

The one that opened in the Figs was never the same – I went once, terribly disappointed - and I am sure they did not want the same unsavory people out there. The new café was more of a “Who’s who” kind of place that had nothing to do with the original Café Midi. It was too far for the college students and way too expensive - and too hi profile for some of the others. In the back of my mind through the years I never forgot that place and always thought “I would like to open a place like Café Midi”


Post by a58pacer » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:54 am

That's odd. The Cafe Midi I remember on Maroa was just north of Shaw Ave. Not exactly Fig Garden, but definitely not Tower either! Year would be about 1967. Pacer

*Note by admin: Added newspaper clipping from 1968 showing Cafe Mid II near Fig Garden.
Fresno Bee - Fri Nov. 8, 1968

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Post by Lost Fresno » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:10 pm

I remember the old Cafe Midi well. I had my first espresso there, I was 16 and didn't even drink coffee yet. When my girlfriend and I went to see Bullet at the Tower Theater, we stopped off at Cafe Midi afterwards. I felt like such an adult ordering my second espresso ever. Below is what the original Cafe Midi location looks like today.

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Post by dulcie » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:14 am

They served Orange Rum Royal: was there ever a more delicious concoction?

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Post by ilovefresno » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:34 am

I regret that I never got to the Cafe Midi at Maroa and Fern. By the time I heard about it, it was at Maroa and Shaw, and you are all so right, there was no atmosphere at all. It is sad that the original location became a laudromat for a few years, and has been boarded up for many years.

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