Thursday night is a great night to get out to a little neighborhood restaurant in Hollister and enjoy live music. Mangia Italian Kitchen is a small Italian Restaurant located at 1709 Airline Hwy . Just by accident, BenitoLink dropped in for a little jazz action last week at Mangia. Owner-operator Raul Escareno Jr., has added the perfect spice to his Italian dishes with a very experienced, local band, Moondance. "Thursday is the new Friday," says Escareno, who also recently announced he will be running for Hollister City Council in the November election.
Moondance lead guitarist and vocalist Rich Haggett told BenitoLink last week, “The Mangia gig started on a whim by Raul and has turned into a hot ticket in town.”
For their performances, Escareno pulls few small tables out of the way, making room for only four Moondance musicians, just right for the cozy atmosphere of Mangia."It’s one of the few gigs we do with no drummer and only 4 guys. We usually have 5 – 7 guys on stage," Haggett said in his interview.
Restaurant operator Escareno told BenitoLink how he came across the group and brought them onboard. "I went to a bar and saw them (Moondance) play. I was very amused by their music and so I asked them to play for my birthday and grand opening party," Escareno said. Tuesdays are Teacher's night but Escareno says any Hollister school employees get 10% off. Wednesdays he offers two dinners of spagetti with meatballs and salad for $25. Thursday night is Prime Rib night and Moodance.
Last week the Escarano stopped serving for a minute and joined the band for a song, getting a big round of applause from his appreciative customers. A couple weeks ago, Escareno announced on Facebook that he will be running for Hollister City Council District 3. He says he wants to represent the people of Hollister and present a different perspective on the council. A lot of his neighbors have heard and he says they're already starting to knock on his door with a variety of concerns. Escareno says he wants to represent people in town and it is not about his business or himself.
Moondance is a band that started in 1976 in Saratoga and enjoyed many years of touring in the U.S. and internationally. Leachman said the group had a full-on musical career. Fortunately for San Benito County, the whole band has re-settled here just started getting back together to play here and there for a little fun. Their website shows the wide selection of music the can play and once people started figuring it out, their dance card started filling up. These days their schedule includes festivals, wineries, various clubs and restaurants. Haggett said that it is a little crazy but, they now find themselves almost as busy as they were in the peak of their careers years ago.
You can learn more about Moondance's schedule by going to their Facebook page. Rich Haggett plays lead guitar and sings vocals with Rick Leachman who plays guitar, bass and harmonica. Les Pierce and Steve Knapp play alto, tenor, baritone sax, flute and sing vocals. When the full group plays there's Jim Oerman on drum and Daryl Lowery on bass and singing vocals.
Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 2:00
Closed during Siesta (2:00 – 4:30)
Monday – Thursday 4:30 – 8:00
Friday & Saturday 4:30 – 9:00
1709 Airline Hwy A, Hollister, CA 95023
Phone: 831 635-0500