‘Hal Linker’ reminisces, part 9

Sonorous announcer: When we last left “Hal Linker,” he was reminiscing about restaurants. As we resume today, he is still reminiscing about restaurants. But first he mentions a clothing store:

Robert Hall’s was the cheap suit place that my parents took me to because I would grow out of them so fast. Located east of Central on Holt.

Re: Betsy Ross: Who didn’t love the place! Wolfing down a Gettysburger with a chocolate malt or coke and then getting a Paul Revere (their version of a banana royale) to top it off. The red, white and blue-themed restaurants only had five locations. Pomona Valley Center opened 1955, Foothill near Mountain in Upland opened 1964, Foothill near Griswolds opened 1959, Grand Avenue Glendora opened 1969; 969 East Holt 1958. There was also an original location on Garey which was ice cream only.

Another couple of historic Chino restaurant locations:

* The Big W on the NW corner of Riverside Drive and Benson. The Big W is long gone, torn down in the 1960s. A 7-Eleven now sits at its approximate location.

* The Pizza King, also on the NW corner of Riverside Drive and Benson. The Pizza King was in the approximate location of Flo’s No. 2.

* Gold Rooster restaurant on Central just south of Mission. Building still stands but is now Players or something like that, a pool playing bar. The Gold Rooster was an affordable restaurant with delicious chicken and halibut and steak at a good value.

Will Hal find love? Will he stop eating out? What does he remember about Montclair Plaza? And what about … Naomi? (Sorry, a little “Electric Company” humor.) Tune in tomorrow for the final (?) installment of “As the Valley Turns.”

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  • “Hal Linker”

    Just for the sake of completeness, The Betsy Ross chain folded 1978.

  • Maris

    What bout “Cockadoodle”?

    [What bout it? -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    The Cock-A-Doodle coffee shop restaurant in Chino on the west side of Central just south of Riverside Drive (across from the old 10-lane Chino Bowling Alley – which is now a discount T-shirt outlet) still exists. It has a full bar in the back called the Trophy Room – some locals affectionately nicknamed the bar ‘The Old People’s Home,’ due to its generally senior clientele. It was owned by Tony Frietas for years. Not sure if he still owns it — haven’t been there in ages.

    Once I had to meet a guy from San Bernardino for a business type lunch. I told him we could eat at the Cock-A-Doodle. He said, “Excuse me! What did your say!”

    [The Freitas family no longer owns it. I wrote a 50th anniversary column item on the 'Doodle last fall. -- DA]

  • “Hal and Hadla Linker”

    Just for the sake of more completeness:

    Here are some more Betsy Ross facts: Betsy Ross was originally a brand name of ice cream manufactured in Pomona beginning in 1926. I think I already stated, but the first restaurant opened at the Sears anchored Pomona Valley Center 1955 (between East End and Mills on the south side Holt).

    Some more Besty Ross menu items: The Washington Monument (pilsner vanilla w/ strawberry, boysenberry and pineapple toppings); The Betsy Ross (three scoops vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping); The Bunker Hill (chocolate, strawberry & vanilla ice cream).

    I have an old menu lying around here somewhere, if I can dig it up, I’ll give you more info. Incidentally, a Gettysburger was a double cheeseburger.

    With regard to the Big W in Chino: The Big W was the restaurant which anchored a small shopping complex at the NW corner of Riverside Drive and Benson. A strip of shops from the old Big W mall still exists just west of the 7-Eleven. I believe the original Big-W barber shop might still be there — though I doubt the original proprietor is. There was a baseball card turned comic book store in there for a while as well — which might still be there. The strip of shops has the same red with white trim paint as the original center and Big W restaurant.

    Speaking of the Big W barber shop, that was one of the barber shops my dad used to take me to for a “regular boys haircut” when I was a kid. (Later he would take me to Danny’s Barber shop when the Alpha Beta Center opened at Walnut and Central.) All I remember about a “regular boys haircut” was that the barber pretty much shaved the sides real short and left you with enough hair on top to part on the side with a wave in the front. This was in the days when Brylcreem’s little dab was doing ya. Even then, I hated getting haircuts because it meant that when I got home, my older brother was going to give me the painful “hair-rub!” A “hair-rub” was my brother rubbing his clenched knuckles on the back of my recently shaved head. It caused pain and made the skin just under the hair turn red. It was a ritual at our house. I knew it was gonna be coming every time I returned from the barber.*

    When I was really small, he and his friends used to put me inside his accordion case and spin me around as they laughed uncontrollably. Then he would let me out of the case and they would watch me try to keep my balance with the incredible state of the spins he gave me. For some reason, I enjoyed this, and was laughing just as hard as they were.

    Speaking of accordions, anyone ever get lessons from a guy named Carl Spano? He had a shop on Holt in Pomona where he gave instructions. My older brother won some sort of competition and played in a big accordion event at the old Long Beach Auditorium in the late 1950s.

    This reminds me, when we lived in Bellflower, my dad would take all the neighborhood kids to Seal Beach everyday. We had a dairy and when he finished milking cows, he would swim in the ocean with us kids. We all used to fight for who could ride in the trunk of the car. Seriously! My dad had so many kids with him, we’d fill the trunk and peek out at the cars behind us as we drove, sometimes making the horn honking gesture to get truckers to blow their air horns. Those were fearless days indeed!!!! Nobody cared, we’d wave at the police as we drove in the trunk! The police smiled and waved back.

    Now you have to wear a helmet to ride a bicycle. When did risk management begin running everybody’s lives?

    It sure is a different world.

    *Cool dudes who wanted that “Righteous Brothers hairdo” look usually went to Mr. G’s in Montclair, which I think is still there in the old Mayfair Market Center.

  • “Hal and Hadla Linker”

    Hadla and I were just having our Sunday afternoon post sex cigarettes (all things in moderation and when you appreciate them most!!) and we thought of a few more places.

    The Ice House up on Mt. Baldy. My parents used to take our family to dinner there on special occasions. They had the best cheese sauce for baked potatoes! The food was great too! Even the water had that great mountain stream mineral flavor. A fire destroyed the place. I can’t remember when though. Anybody know when it burned up? Did it burn twice?

    Top Of the Notch was another place up on Mt. Baldy. Hadla and I both had us some wild times there before we knew each other. This was another place at which Van Halen played. It’s not listed at David Lee Roth’s website but I have a table reservation thing which proves it. This was circa 1977. They were already doing material from their first two LP’s.

    With regard to Berger’s, I am not sure what’s already been said about the place, but in the mid 1960′s the cook was a Dutch guy named Sidney Romkema. He made these delicious croquettes of which we would order huge quantities to take home for parties. I think around 1967 Sidney quit and became the cook at the California Youth Authority (now Heman Stark) correctional facility on South Euclid Avenue between Merrill and Kimball Avenues. A shame his talents were wasted on incarcerated youth — but I suppose he liked the security and the benefits. Last time I saw Sidney was at the American Legion bar at the Chino Airport, not far from his job. Apparently it was a usual pit stop for him after work. This was decades ago.

    The Old Hickory was a favorite of Hadla’s parents. Hadla was particularly fond of the corn fritters. Old Hickory was out in, either, Azusa or Glendora on Route 66 / Alosta. Sometime in the 1990s I think it became the Derby East (referring to the Brown Derby). Even after becoming the Derby, it had Old Hickory night on one day of the week. Which day it was I can’t recall. I don’t think The Derby East is even there anymore. I dont recall the cross street either. Im sure someone will know. The Derby had some wonderful Sunday brunches.

    Whatever happened to Rapscallions off of the 210 freeway near Irwindale? That was supposed to be a tremendous seafood place. Before I could try it, it became a Mexican place. Now, Im told its a Dennys. Anybody ever eat there. Was the seafood as great as the hype? Somebody said Rapscallion’s moved to Reno, Nevada. Is this true? I can identify with the name. But what about the food?

    El Rancho Grande in Chino on Riverside Drive near Pipeline. Heres yet another restaurant that burned down. This was a fairly recent occurrence (after 2000). I used to love their Huevos Rancheros with a couple of Dos X. The food was great for what expectations were! Take out or dine in. They had a choice of corn or flour tortilla chips as well. The guacamole was excellent! Someone also told me that El Rancho Grande re-opened up on Central near Foothill but closed down very quickly. Any truth to this?

    Anybody remember G & C Burrito on Riverside Drive in Chino? These were Asian guys who had a Mexican food walk up. I never ate there as I heard equivocal things about the place. I heard some of the burritos combined Mexican and Asian elements. I think they had some Asian items too. Maybe someone else out there knows more than us. We never ate there.

    Hadla just brought up Pacific Ocean Park. This was out of the area. But a now-defunct amusement park that many in the Valley no doubt visited. Located on the pier in Venice this place lasted about 10 struggling years before finally going broke around 1967.

    The old Aragon Ballroom at Pacific Ocean Park (once home to many big bands, along with Lawrence Welk) was renamed The Cheetah and turned into a rock ‘n’ roll venue in the Spring of 1967. The Cheetah stayed open even after Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P. to many of us) closed. Does anyone remember the billboard with the huge rendering of purple cheetah on it near the venue? I’d love to have a picture of that billboard. The Cheetah lasted through 1968 at which point the entire area was fenced off for future demolition. It was a fairly big place for a rock club of the time. I bet it held 3,000 people but was seldom even one-third full.

    The Cheetah hosted many top bands of the time including this long list: Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Doors & the Jefferson Airplane (on the same bill), the Chambers Brothers, the Byrds & Love on the same bill, Iron Butterfly, Grateful Dead, Country Joe & the Fish, James Brown, the Seeds, Alice Cooper (when known as The Nazz), Buffalo Springfield, Vanilla Fudge, Taj Mahal, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Standells, Leaves, Mike Bloomfield’s Electric Flag, Pink Floyd (w/ Syd Barrett), Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, the Allman Brothers (when known as the Hour Glass), Lee Michaels, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, the Turtles, the Grass Roots, Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Tim Buckley, Blue Cheer, the Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jackie Wilson & Etta James on the same bill, Canned Heat, the Bob Seger System, Moby Grape, Spirit, Sweetwater, Pacific Gas & Electric, Traffic, Tommy James & the Shondells, Albert King, the Fugs, Steve Miller Band, Sly & the Family Stone, Ten Years After, The Mothers Of Invention, Dr. John, Freddie King, Jose Feliciano, Sam & Dave Revue and Chicago Transit Authority (before their first album).

    Wheres the way back machine when you need it?!?

    [I think Todd Rundgren led The Nazz, not Alice Cooper. -- DA]

  • “Hal and Hadla Linker”

    Youre right, David, Todd Rundgren did lead the Nazz. However, the Alice Cooper band was also originally known as The Nazz (in tribute to Lord Buckley). They changed their name to Alice Cooper circa April 1968 when they found out a Philadelphia based band (Rundgrens) was using the same name.

    The Alice Cooper band was originally known as the Earwigs, then the Spiders, then the Nazz. The Phoenix, Arizona based group moved to Los Angeles circa the Summer of 1967 and quickly became one of the house bands at the Cheetah. This meant that they usually opened for the headliners, who would play on the weekends, along with being a featured attraction on the weekdays.

    Todd Rundgrens Nazz never played the Cheetah. Their first, and I believe only, Los Angeles appearance was in the Spring of 1968 at the Whisky A Go Go. This was well before they had released their debut album (released 9/68) and hit single Hello Its Me / Open My Eyes (charted Cashbox 1-18-69; charted Billboard 2-15-69). Rundgrens Nazz was a last minute replacement at the Whisky for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich of Bend It fame, who canceled.

    I believe it was the listing of Rundgrens Nazz at the Whisky which caught the eye of Alice Coopers Nazz and made them change their name.

    [Unsurprisingly, I'm sorry I brought it up. -- DA]

  • Annie Muss

    We’re drinking from the firehose now.

  • “Hal Linker”

    Hey Dave, don’t be sorry you brought it up. We all learned some things of very minor significance.

    For the record, in my own humble opinion, Todd Rundgren’s – Something / Anything? 2-LP set is one of the finest works of the early 1970s. A great pop confection on which he plays all the intruments. Except the classic Side 4. I don’t think Todd ever topped it. (I remember when it came out in February 1972, I got a cracked tail light ticket from Chino PD Officer Tooley on the way home from White Front after purchasing it.)

    Other albums that I bought on that day were Neil Young – Harvest; Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach 2-LP; Mott the Hoople – Brain Capers and Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In the West. All these brand new releases for less than 20 bucks!!!!! Good old White Front!!! Good Old 1972!!!!!

    [Of course today you could steal them all off the Internet for free. Good Old 2008! Personally, however, I don't download music. Why? Because I believe musicians should be paid for their work. Because I enjoy examining a CD's liner notes. Because I like adding a CD to my library. Mostly, though, I don't download music because I have no idea how to do it. -- DA]

  • jim tanner

    Dear Hal and Hadla,

    I followed your travels as a poor boy in LA on tv during the 50′s and 60′s ….
    what ever became of david, my age?
    sincerely, jim
    los angeles

    [It's not the real Hal and Hadla posting, Jim, just people using their names as blog pseudonyms. Sorry. -- DA]

  • Jeffrey Pomeroy

    How funny to find this blog! I was doing a search on the Gold Rooster in Chino and found it. It was my favorite restaurant growing up in Upland in the 60′s/70′s. My first trip was in a high chair — countless dining experiences there where the same server’s who saw me as a baby were still there for graduations well into my 20s.

    I loved the broasted chicken — the dark red ambience with glitter in the ceilings — always finished off with a sundae! As a child the bar was fascinating to me. Lots of furs on the ladies and smoke. Happy times with my family celebrated and remembered there. Wish it was still around!

    [Glad you found us, Jeffrey. -- DA]

  • Nancy

    I too am looking for El Rancho Grande…It did burn down and someone told me they opended up somewhere…I googled the name and nothing in the area…Do you know if they opened in another name? I really miss that place.. Loved the burritos and the flour chips..

    Nancy

  • Kevin Salveson

    I don’t think one should omit Farrell’s when talking about Betsy Ross etc. Two locations, but the one I remember going to was on the north edge of the Montclair Plaza. Similar to Betsy Ross, but they did have two big deals… a super sized ice cream for which you won a prize if you could eat it all. The other was that they would put on a big show for anyone with a birthday, with all the staff in the store singing. They had a very big marching band bass drum that they’d beat along to the song so it was a big hit with kids (though when it was my brother’s birthday and I was 4 I actually hid under the table because the sound of the bass drum scared me). –Kevin Salveson

    [Awwww. -- DA]