Among the Seven Wonders Past suggested by readers was the Kapu-Kai in Rancho Cucamonga.
This Polynesian paradise consisted initially of the Kapu-Kai Coffee Shop with an attached bowling alley. As I understand it, the bowling alley also boasted The Hut restaurant, Outrigger cocktail lounge and Tahitian Fire Room. This complex stood on the corner of Foothill and Vineyard from 1962 to 1994, when it was bulldozed, according to Charles Phoenix’s “Cruising the Pomona Valley.”
The name Kapu-Kai, he says, translates to Forbidden Sea. Ooooh! It was name-checked in Joan Didion’s famous essay, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream.”
Here’s what reader Marilyn von Kuhlberg had to say about the Kapu-Kai in a recent e-mail:
“That was a unique design. Armstrong’s nursery in Ontario had been designed by the same architect. First, a bowling alley, then skating rink, it had a wonderful restaurant with memorable fried chicken, the best I have ever eaten. After it was damaged in the big flood of 1969, the roof and more could not be repaired. And so it languished.”
That corner is now famous for having two Starbucks outlets, one at the edge of the parking lot and a small one inside the Albertsons.