After 30 years Mudville is still a Clayton favorite

Ed’s Mudville Grill celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 3, exactly 30 years to the day the Clayton restaurant first opened for business. Owners Ed and Stephanie Moresi and 250 of their closest friends celebrated the landmark date after the dinner rush. (Photo courtesy Ed’s Mudville Grill)

CLAYTON, CA (May 20, 2024) — Ed Moresi knew the staff had planned a little celebration for May 3 to mark the exact 30th anniversary of the opening of Ed’s Mudville Grill in Clayton.

What Ed and his wife Stephanie didn’t know was that it wasn’t a little celebration cooked up by John Mahloch and their son Dominic Moresi. After the Friday evening dinnertime rush the Moresi’s found themselves amidst a celebrating crowd of over 250 family, friends and customers that spilled out of the popular downtown family eatery.

May 3 is a recurring landmark in Moresi’s professional career. It was on May 3, 1974, that he began busing tables and washing dishes for Skip Ipsen’s new Skipolini’s in Clayton during his junior year at Clayton Valley High School. Exactly 20 years later in 1994 he opened Mudville at the corner of Center St. and Marsh Creek Rd. Not wanting to tempt fate, his upscale Moresi’s Chophouse opened in 2007 on the only possible date, May 3.

Remarkable longevity

Over these past three decades Moresi had a pair of business challenges that make the longevity of operating two restaurants in a small town of 12,000 people all the more remarkable. Although the pandemic is much fresher in people’s minds, it was the 17- month long Great Recession starting in December 2007 that “was the scariest.”

After a “gangbuster” first few months of business at the Chophouse, the recession came down like a ton of bricks. “The next three years were brutal,” according to Moresi. When the pandemic hit in early 2020 the restaurant initially shut down before Domonic, now Mudville’s general manager, started a social media campaign for takeout from Ed’s. “The residents of Clayton were very supportive during this time. Not only did it seem like everyone shutdown their home kitchens to have takeout every night, but they were so extremely generous in tipping our employees.”

The crew

Moresi estimates he’s had over 750 employees between the two restaurants in 30 years. The roll call starts with Mahloch (28 years behind the bar), Chris “Mac” McCormick (28), Carol Ricetti (28) and Lorenzo Garcia (24). Son Dominic was 13 when the restaurant opened, and he would work there in the morning before grandpa Al Moresi would drive him to the new nearby Diablo View Middle School.

Ed Moresi is proud of how many high school age youth who had their first job at Ed’s come back while in college or later and say they are so grateful they learned how to be an employee while working there.

The front of house and kitchen crews propose new menu items. They experiment on the recipe and some then become “specials” for diners to see if they make the cut. Those new items still have to share menu space with classic Ed’s fare of Ty Cobb salad, Clayton Burger, Mudville’s Famous Zucchini Sticks and other favorite salads, burgers and chicken sandwiches. Unlike the food menu, alcohol coming from the bar has definitely changed. The early 1990s was the start of the craft beer craze and Moresi’s opened serving only craft beers. “It wasn’t until John (Mahloch) came on board that we added Coors Light since he said that’s what he drinks,” Moresi explained.

Over the years more domestic beers were added. In recent times hard seltzer has become popular, wine sales have waned since the pandemic and, recently, Moresi obtained a liquor license. “Golfers coming in after playing at Oakhurst would order a gin and tonic or vodka soda and we’d tell them they’d have to go to the Clayton Club or the Chophouse for that.”

Perfect venue

Mudville is only closed on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and after the Clayton 4th of July parade. The busiest days of the year are Saint Patrick’s Day and the weekends of the Clayton Art & Wine Festival and Oktoberfest. And few days can beat having the 49ers, Warriors, Giants or A’s in postseason play where the 13 TVs encircling the dining area are showing the local teams in high leverage action. About a year ago the restaurant converted its small game room into a group dining area with three TVs and an L-shaped table. “The first two events we had there were all women fantasy football league drafts,” Moresi said.

Ed and Stephanie Moresi’s sons Dominic and Nicholas were 13 and nine when Mudville opened. The couple now has three grandchildren and two daughters- in-law.

Long-time teacher and coach Herc Pardi sums up the feelings of many locals, “Ed’s is the perfect venue for postgame youth and high school sports. Whether you won or lost, his destination completed the journey of competition. Our family made lifelong connections at Ed’s. He and his staff are top shelf servers, and our community is so blessed to have them for 30 years.”

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.