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Class of 1973 bids Farnesi’s farewell

Alan Beraldi/For The Madera Tribune

Members of the Madera High School class of 1973, from left rear, Mark Fleming, Doug Elliot, Tami Jo Nix, Arthur Zamora, Alice Tate Williams, Gilbert Molina, Rodonna Betts, Diane Allen, Donna Foster, John Beatty, Linda Castillo, Phil Gallegos, seated, Pam Pistoresi, Vicki Pratt, Kathy Row, Irene Vizcarra and Patty Lopes pose for a class picture at the Farewell to Farnesi’s luncheon on Saturday.


By now, word has made the rounds that yet another Madera icon is going out of business. Farnesi’s Restaurant at 2085 W. Kennedy Avenue plans to close for good the end of the month. May 30 will be the last day for the public with the 31st reserved for the regular customers who helped keep the doors open all these years, said owner Donnie Cedarloft.

“I’ve worked here since graduation from Madera (Union) High School in 1964,” said Cedarloft.

Working at the same job, cooking the same (comfort) food for 55 years is almost unheard of in the new millennium. Chicken fried steak, breaded veal cutlets or liver and onions have been some of the establishment’s mainstays for decades. Family favorites such as pot roast, meatloaf, burgers and club sandwiches joined breakfasts served with biscuits and gravy. These meals have been complemented by the restaurant’s freshly made bread pudding.

Anyone driving by has noticed the number of cars in the parking lot. Last Sunday there were 37 cars ln the parking lot. It is reasonable to assume the drivers needed one more Farnesi’s meal before it is too late.

On Saturday a group of 1973, Madera High classmates gathered for an impromptu mini-reunion in the Farnesi’s dining room.

Cedarloft’s late sister-in-law Pam Morgan was a member of the Class of 73 and her presence is greatly missed at class reunions. Her sister Carla Roberts was just one year ahead of us. She and Cedarloft have run the restaurant together for many years.

Unfortunately, a limit of 20 to 25 people had to be set as the restaurant dining room and the rest of the restaurant can only accommodate so many people. We had to clear out by 4:30 to give the staff a chance to reset the room for the Saturday night dinner crowd. All had moved on by 4:15 with a part of the crowd retiring to the lounge for an adult beverage and more conversation.

During these baby boomer’s childhoods, many came to Farnesi’s with their parents or grandparents as a special treat celebrating family milestones such as birthdays, promotions and anniversaries among them. While in high school a date to Farnesi’s with attendance at the Sadie Hawkins, Blossom Day and Junior Senior Prom dances showed your date you had high style.

As the kids grew up a 2 a.m. last call at the local bars breakfast followed a night of dancing and partying with one’s friends. When the cocktail lounges closed, entire parties moved their people to drink coffee and sober up before going home. This was especially helpful for the college-age crowd at home with their parents for a weekend or holiday break.


The idea for a Class of 73 gathering was first suggested by classmate Doug Elliot. A Cal Fire firefighter and teacher of methods of extinguishing pyrotechnic incidents originally put forth the idea for the lunch on the classes’ Facebook page. Several of us chimed in and the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, 2 to 4:30 p.m. became the appointed gathering time.

Elliot drove up from San Diego, John Beatty and his wife came down from Oakdale. Classmates came from other Central Valley areas for the luncheon.

Born between 1954 and 1955 the class has seen many of its number die too young. Each gathering is an opportunity to catch up on family and friends who for 13 years were their first friends and constant companions.

That realization had many suggesting they not wait for the 50th reunion in 2023 to meet again.

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