New year brings 40th anniversary to Sherman eatery

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
In 2018, MG's Restaurant moved into its current location in a former gas station on Woods Street.

Taking diners back to a simpler time in the 1950s, a long-time staple of Sherman's dining and restaurant scene is celebrating 40 years. The year 2022 marks four decades of business for MG's which started serving up hamburgers and nostalgia in1982.

Despite more than 60 years of time, the vintage gas station that MGs calls home looks almost as though it stepped through a portal into the modern day. The pumps from the former fuel station, still stand while a nearby green dinosaur proudly advertises for Sinclair Oil.

Tunes and music from the era beckon diners into the restaurant through the large  garage doors at the front of the building. Much like the Brontosaurus outside, ads and posters along the walls continue to advertise for many businesses that have long since left.

A line of vintage car ornaments line the wall at MG's Restaurant in Sherman.

The garage and motor theme of the restaurants continues throughout the restaurant with model cars — and the front end of a car on risers — greeting people as they pass. All of the burgers are named after cars of the era and staff mark orders using vintage racing trophies as their numbers.

For co-owner Mike Adams, the dream of owning his restaurant became a reality in the early 80s while he was working at Bonanza, a steakhouse located in what is now La Mesa. After working in the restaurant for about seven years, he decided to open his own eatery. Adams was offered the chance to buy the Bonanza building, but instead opted to purchase a small former restaurant on Woods Street.

At the time, Adams purchased what was MG's first location for $15,000 with a $4,000 down payment thanks to his father.

"I had a payment of $155.83 for 15 years or whatever it was, and here he are now 40 years later," he said.

While some thing the name MG's comes as an extension of the car theme and the tie to General Motors, Adams said the name comes from the initials of his and his wife Gina's first names, while the S represents their children.

The car and motor theme that dominate the restaurant today was built over time, Adams said, adding that it is an extension of his love of cars from the era. The decor started with wooden models of vintage cars from the 1950s but the aesthetic grew over time to include hood ornaments, a jukebox and other items from the past.

"I don't smoke and I don't drink that much, so I don't have any real vices," Adams said. "So, I spend my money on cars quite frequently."

"In the 60s they tried to square things off and make things angular," he added. "In the 1950s everything was rounded and each model year was different from the last. Each year it morphed."

A car on risers is among the many retro decorations on display at MG's Restaurant in Sherman

Long-time Manager Chanel Stiggers said the decor started to grow into what it is today when the original restaurant went through a remodel. At that point lights and other items were added and increased the vintage feel of the space.

"You walked in and it was a mint green, but when he did the remodel he changed everything to red and black and white," Stiggers said.

"It was all design on a dime effort, basically and it just kind of morphed into that," Adams said.

The restaurant moved into its current home about three years ago when renovations of a former gas station on the same block were completed. Adams said the former service station was built in the early 1960s but still fit the look and feel of a station from the previous decade. The new location fit the look and feel of the restaurant but also provided more space, Stiggers said.

Adams pushed back on the notion that MGs has become something of a landmark for Sherman, but admitted that on more than one occasion people have made it a point to visit on their return to Sherman as a way of getting a taste of home. 

To Stiggers, the restaurant represents a return to a simpler time, even if only for however long it takes someone to finish a burger.

"I honestly wish I was born in the 20s so I could live in the 50s," she said. "I think those were good times and everyone was just having fun."

A Sinclair Oil Dinosaur sits outside of MG's restaurant in Sherman.