Column: 1950s Ontario strip mall shaken up for Walgreens

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Above is a view of the Post Office branch at Fourth and Mountain in Ontario after the adjoining buildings were demolished. Below is a photo from circa 1960 courtesy of the Ontario Planning Department with the Post Office partly visible at left. The Laundramatic and Bank of America buildings were what was demolished. Click on the pictures for a bigger view.

Wednesday’s column begins with an item on the changes. I mention a 2009 blog post of mine with a lot of comments on the old days and the old stores; you can find that by clicking here.

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Virginia Dare Winery, 1910

Virginia Dare Winery 1910

This photo looks north, with Foothill Boulevard (Route 66) running east and west in the foreground. That’s the Virginia Dare Winery in the foreground and nothin’ but agriculture and mountains in the background. Reader James Edwards emailed me the photo after seeing the 1934 and ’46 photos of Upland on this blog. Some of the above property is now the Virginia Dare Winery Center, an office park that fronts Haven Avenue.

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Goodbye, and good riddance, to the Mustang

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A former adult bookstore building was being torn down last Thursday on Central Avenue below Foothill Boulevard in Upland. It was once Mustang Books and Video, a thorn in the side of Upland City Hall and residents. The area was outside city limits for most of its existence. San Bernardino County negotiated the 2010 closure of the store, which had bedeviled them since at least the 1990s. And now, the vacant building is nearly gone. Its black-wrapped pole sign seems to be in mourning.

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Restaurant of the Week: Stein Haus

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Stein Haus Brau and Brats, 540 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Towne), Pomona; food service from 2 to 9 p.m. daily

One of the valley’s few examples of roadside architecture, this business built to resemble a castle lies on Route 66 just over the border from Claremont’s restaurant shaped like a tugboat, both of them ’60s holdovers. Pomona’s began life in 1968 as Magic Towers, a King Arthur-themed burger palace for the kiddies, and later became Friar Tuck’s, a dive bar that might appeal to the dissolute grownups those kiddies became.

I never ventured inside. But now it’s been repainted, remodeled and rebranded as Stein Haus, a German-themed bar and restaurant with the aid of the reality-TV show “Bar Rescue.” German? Hey, there’s only so many things you can do with a castle. So for the first time, I went inside one recent afternoon. The dark brown paint outside may be an improvement over the faded gray from the English days.

Inside there’s more brown and dim lighting, with a full bar, a counter and a few tables, plus a small stage, pool tables in the back and a smoker’s patio. The bartender told me the place had been cleaned up considerably, with new carpet replacing “three kinds of tile.”

The menu is small and focused. They still have burgers, jalapeno poppers and other bar food, but they now have a handful of German items: pork schnitzel and bratwurst sandwiches, crispy spaetzle and pretzel bites, as well as a few specialty cocktails. I sat at the bar, ordered a bratwurst ($10, pictured below) — after all, it’s in the restaurant’s sub-name — and hoped for the best.

It took a while, but my brat arrived on a chewy pretzel bun, with spicy mustard (brown, I think, to match the prevailing color scheme) and grilled onions. A side of slaw was vinegary, with cabbage, green pepper and carrots. The whole thing was a pleasant surprise.

Another day, I returned for dinner. It was early and the bar was quiet. I got the other sandwich, the pork schnitzel (also $10; pictured at bottom), which came with crispy spaetzle. I liked the sandwich, which came on rye bread; the spaetzle was like doughy fries, without much taste. That said, I found myself eating it anyway.

I wonder how long the reinvention will last or if the place will backslide, but the adventurous, and people who remember the old days, might get a kick out of stepping inside.

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Studio Art Hall, Pomona College

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Pomona College has an ambitious new building, the Studio Art Hall, deemed important enough to be visited and considered by the LA Times’ architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, who called it “absolutely worth visiting, despite the imperfect results. He further says:

“It’s hard to think of another recent project in Southern California where the forms are so forward and the material and color palette so muted. Imagine a piece of writing in all-caps but small type, or the Sex Pistols played at extremely low volume.” Ha ha!

I’m no architecture critic, nor do I have the time for a tour of the finer points, but I checked out the exterior the other morning; the building is southeast of Bridges Auditorium and replaces our old friend, the Replica House, the home built in 1937 as a replica of Pomona College’s 1888 founding building.

The outdoor stairs are, to employ architectural jargon, pretty cool.

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