Longtime downtown watchers remember Mervyn's "Fine Foods" ("For Delightful Dining ... and Cocktails"), a popular Greek-American café from 1960s to 1990s with a little bar in the back (Mervyn's Lounge). Images of Mervyn's Castro St. restaurant frontage surface in various places, including Nick Perry's second photo-history book "Mountain View, Then & Now" (page 78). In the 1990s, the restaurant closed, replaced by Chef Liu; Mervyn's Lounge (behind) continued as an independent concession (and is now about the oldest bar in Mountain View, after 52 years -- classified in some places as a "dive bar," but genteel).
In June 2014 in a complex sequence of events, Chef Liu closed (a sign announced plans for a new restaurant opening "in July"), while the building's owners took over Mervyn's Lounge from the people who had operated it for 20 years, lightly remodeled the Lounge, and reopened it. A managing owner whom I've kept in touch with outlined plans to reopen the front restaurant under the original name Mervyn's but with a new, comfort-food menu and a new front bar (I saw the remodeled but still-closed interior at the time). A year after originally planned (further remodeling caused the delay, I'm told), the new Mervyn's Restaurant recently opened, its dining room now built around a large and sociable modern bar (even as the tiny, traditional Mervyn's Lounge continues, connected through a rear hallway, or via a side door in the adjacent alley).
This opening is fairly basic so far: the Mervyn's front sign isn't up yet, the menu is modest -- but its focus is unusual hamburgers. If I'd thought that between Bierhaus, Buffalo, Steins, Tied House, Scratch, and other downtown restaurants serving diverse hamburgers, the range of local burger options was already comprehensive, I'd have been wrong. Mervyn's new food menu emphasizes a novel type of hamburger I'm told is fashionable in Japan, with varied and unusual garnishes.
2. Gochi's closure and pending move
Gochi Fusion Japanese Tapas acquired quite a following with its intense, genuinely creative small plates, when its second location opened here in MV on Castro off ECR. In view of planned redevelopment at the site, Gochi closed in late June and has posted plans to reopen some distance west on El Camino (apparently in or near the commercial complex that houses Kinko's, Petco, etc.) This information comes by courtesy of Julie Lovins.