Less pie

In a blow to West End pie lovers, the Bakers Square restaurant in Claremont has closed. The location, at 710 S. Indian Hill Blvd., just above the 10 Freeway, was among 56 Bakers Square and Village Inn locations across the U.S. that closed after their parent company filed bankruptcy.

A total of 343 of the two restaurants remain in business, including the Bakers Square at 1401 Foothill Blvd. (at Wheeler) in La Verne. So there’s that comfort.

Still, the Claremont location will be missed by some. “I really liked their strawberry/pineapple/coconut pie. . . .sigh. . .” reader Joanne Boyajian laments.

I’m more a Flo’s and Corky’s man myself, or even Marie Callender’s, but I passed by the Claremont Bakers Square frequently and it will be a little sad not to see it there.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/the_ron Ronald Scott

    I live up the street from the former Bakers Square and my favorite dish was the chicken dijon with rice pilaf and broccoli. It was something my mom used to make and it was great to have a place that made something my mom made.

    [And just down the street, too. Oh well. Try the La Verne location. -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    Another one bites the dust. Too bad. I’d only been in that place once or twice, but it’s still sad to see another long-lived landmark go.

    It was a Sambo’s in the 1970′s and 1980′s and, believe it or not, I actually had breakfast there when under the influence of some Goofy (the Disney character) blotter acid.

    Needless to say, the over-easy fried egg breakfast was more amusing as finger painting than food. My two lady companions were equally amused with their beef gravy as the middle-aged waitress felt like Dylan’s Mr. Jones. Goofy, indeed. This is your brain on drugs.

    Usually if I was eating in that area it was across the street at the BC Cafe or in its previous incarnation as Howard Johnson’s 24/7 coffee shop which also had a fairly active bar with convenient hotel in rear.

    Chino lost their Bakers Square (Central just south of Philadelphia) a few years back. It too was a Sambo’s in the 1970′s and 1980′s.

    Once “Hadla”, her friend Katie (who used to clean my house and dance provocatively on my coffee table to Mitch Ryder hits and Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right”) and myself were having a late night coffee at the Sambo’s in Chino. I don’t want folks to get a wrong impression of me, because I really didn’t take drugs all the time, it just seems that way, but the three of us were definitely in an altered state of consciousness due to some incredible “Window Pane.”

    It was an ice water and coffee type of night and it had to be well past two in the morning. I had to pee and went to the bathroom where all urinals and stalls were occupied.

    The girls waited in our booth. A male mutual acquaintance of theirs saw them sitting there and sat with them not knowing that they were out of their minds on acid. He told them about this crazy dude in the bathroom talking incoherently to himself and his penis in the mirror while peeing in the sink.

    Just then, I began to make my way back to the booth and the guy stood up, pointed me out, not knowing I was with them, and said, “That’s the guy right there!”

    Katie and “Hadla” literally rolled into the aisles of Sambo’s in uncontrollable laughter. I had to gently kick them back to their senses as they bellowed on the floor in a state of hysteria for several minutes.

    The guy, and for that matter every other person in Sambo’s, couldn’t figure out what was so damned funny.

    This is your brain on drugs.

    And in a rare case of me admitting a lasting effect of drug use, no sink in America is now safe.

  • Lou Kattme

    We sure enjoy your blog, Hal. All those tales about yourself are incredible! Sex drugs and rock and roll. Fascinating stuff.

    I also enjoy reading here about longtime area businesses and was particularly pleased to read here that that McCoys Feed is still in business. I’m headed there today to get a higher pair of boots and a shovel.

    Keep on blogging!

    By the way, whatever happened to that David fella?

    [David who? You're on The "Hal Linker" Blog. -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    Finally ….. a fan.

  • “Hal Linker”

    If ever in the Griffith Park / Los Feliz area, one of the few remaining House Of Pies restaurants is located on 1869 N. Vermont. They even have a bit of outdoor seating.

    P.S. Lou, negativity always shovels merde.

    [A friend lived two blocks from House of Pies for a couple of years. He still regrets moving. -- DA]

  • Don j

    Aw Hal, guys like you are why Owsley makes furniture today.

    There was a lot of Do-Si-Do’ing among restaurants on that stretch…BC’s-or “Breakfast @ Carl’s” was down @ East End & Holt (where the Pho restaurant is today, Carl’s head chef C.C. tried to make a go of the old location but wound up moving on to the coffeeshop across from the Pomona courthouse), “The Olympic Torch/Flame” (Van de Kamp’s) was across the corner, Denny’s was across from them on the north side).

    Sambo’s was where Baker’s Square was, behind there was the “Golden Spike” restaurant, made up of a batch of railroad passenger cars…I was amused to read later on one of these same cars was also used for rooms in a railway-themed motel & campground we stayed @ as youngsters in Sioux City (Pat esp liked this motel’s vintage Coke bottle machine where you open this vertical door & could normally plop in your change & pull out the bottle by the top-or better yet if you’re industrious, a churchkey & well-placed cup get the same results without any loss of coin whatsoever). As for the food, did I mention you’re eating in a traincar? These cars were eventually hauled over to an officepark on 9th St just east of Benson in Upland, I think it’s an educational toystore today.

    We could go on about Griswold’s & Betsy Ross ice cream & the further glory days of Michael J’s (ironically the Cucamonga location is BC Cafe…but that’s for later).

    [Somebody years ago asked me about the traincar restaurant at Indian Hill and San Jose and that was the first I'd heard of it. Here we go: It was the Golden Spike and the cars are now in Upland. Thanks, Don. Btw, our church basement had a Coke machine like the one you described. I loved yanking out a glass bottle by the top and hearing the next one clank into place. -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    Don j, Great stuff about local eateries!

    With reference to train car dining, anyone remember the Choo Choo in Corona on Sixth Street? The railroad cars are still there but it’s an office of some sort last I checked.

    There was also Victoria Station in West Covina in the restaurant row (whatever happened to this place?). And, of course, the various Carney’s locations. Carney’s beats the pants off of Pink’s for good wieners. The hamburgers rule too!

    I’ve said it before, but those souffle omelettes at Breakfast at Carl’s were da bomb. My dad used to take me there frequently when he got the car washed (next door) on weekends. Dad would always order the Plantation Platter and finish the whole thing. I don’t know where he put it – there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.

    Incidentally, both the Pomona Car Wash (next to Breakfast at Carl’s) and the Chino Car Wash (Riverside Drive & 7th Street) had those vertical door pick-a-bottle coke machines. I used to dig Nesbitt’s Orange Soda ice cold from the machine. I believe they were 10 cents at the time.

    With regard to Owsley Stanley, I think he is doing sculpture out in Queensland. Never heard about the furniture. He fled to Australia in the late 1980s in anticipation of the next ice age (take that, Al Gore!). I’m not kidding! Owsley believes that Australia will be the one continent not left under ice.

    I also think he is still on the all-meat diet he began in the 1960s. Veggies and carbs are toxic!! The insulin they generate will kill you!!!! Yikes!!!

    I think he quit making acid for profit and fun after doing time in the early 1970s on a drug charge of some sort. After release from jail he concentrated on being one of the Dead’s sound guys.

  • JMac

    I remember eating at the Golden Spike. Definitely a novelty that didn’t last long as I recall.

    But wasn’t there another train-themed restaurant, just over the tracks at First St? I do remember that it was the only place in the area that had Anchor Steam on tap. I’m guessing 78-79 or thereabouts. It too was shortlived.

  • Jim L

    Amen, “Hal”, regarding Pinks hot dogs! I fail to see the appeal of such mediocre hot dogs. Same goes for Dodger Dogs. Perhaps after being duped like lemmings into waiting a half hour or more in line one must convince oneself that it’s a great hot dog.

    I can only surmise that fans of Pinks dogs or Dodger Dogs must equate Taco Bell and McDonald’s to gourmet Mexican and Scottish cuisines, respectively.

    [To each his own, but food guru Jonathan Gold loves Pink's. Their dogs have a snap to them that the mushy Dodger Dogs don't. -- DA]

  • Ramona Fredericks

    Don j said:

    We could go on about Griswold’s & Betsy Ross ice cream & the further glory days of Michael J’s (ironically the Cucamonga location is BC Cafe…but that’s for later).

    Don and “Hal”,

    Just so you fellas, and that David fella, can keep your logs, blogs, and memory units up to date:

    The BC Cafe in Rancho (Cucamonga) is now Kick Back Jack’s. Dunno why.

    Ramona

    [2009 is BC's 50th year and I'll be asking that question (and many others) for an anniversary column or item then. -- DA]

  • Jim L

    It’s hard to argue with Jonathan Gold! It’s my loss to be missing that gene that allows me to enjoy the taste of a Pink’s dog. It would save me a few drives to The Stand. I agree that the Pink’s snap, owing to the thicker casings, is a definitely a plus.

    Regarding good eats in LA though I’m anxiously awaiting the supposed return of Coles P.E. which in my mind has the best French Dips but Philippe’s – to return to the topic at hand – has great banana cream pie.

    [Cole's was a neglected gem and perhaps the makeover will help. I visited The Stand (on Ventura Boulevard in Encino) recently and agree they make a great dog. -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    Jim L,

    Regarding Pink’s: Hadla and myself ate there once and that was enough. The place was filthy and the chili on the dogs is just plain awful! I really don’t get it. Must be mass hysteria. We even gave it another shot at the L.A. County Fair and it wasn’t any better. I can think of about 20 places with better dogs.

    Anyway, everytime Hadla and I drive past the place in Hollywood, which is quite often, I yell out my window at the people in line telling them that they’re all brainwashed, but in a humorous and different way each time. Hadla hates it terribly and usually scolds me, but I do it anyway. Just can’t resist makin’ friends wherever I go.

    I think Nathan’s sucks too. They have a store by the Pantages Theater. Just awful. Only if you’re starving, and think about it real long and hard, even then.

    The best hot dog place I ever went to in my life was in Michigan. I went to school in Ann Arbor but one of my girlfriends, Laura, lived in East Grand Rapids, quite a distance away. She was what you might call a rich bitch – a doctor’s daughter. Majoring in art and blowing glass, minds and other things more fleshy.

    She had sandy-blonde hair, a petite dynamite figure, dreamy bedroom hazel eyes, and was not even the least bit stuck-up for a rich bitch.

    Needless to say, her parents hated me, my hair, my guitar and my hands on their daughter’s ass. But that worked decidedly to my advantage. They wouldn’t let us stay at their home in the same room so she ended up angrily flipping them off. She was a bit spoiled.

    We ended up in this little remote area called Spring Lake – “Where Nature Smiles For Seven Miles,” it said on the sign. We got ourselves a room at this lakeside motel which must have been built for midgets. The doorways were only about 5’4″ high. The shower head was just above my butt. Uh oh, I’m getting way off subject now. We had an incredible time and met some really interesting people at the motel – a pot dealing lady in her mid-30′s, who also did airbrush designs on T-shirts, and her groovy beat-up VW van driving associate, Larry the largely silent half-Indian. More on them later, maybe.

    Anyway we went to Laura’s home town (G.R. as they call it out in Michigander-land) and they had this tiny narrow hot dog place called Yesterdog. It was unbelievable!!

    It was on the same street as a bunch of local college bars, one of which was named The White Rabbit (best jukebox ever and the bartender turned out to be an old friend [small world, indeed] I knew from California, ie. free booze).

    Yesterdog was the ultimate. I wonder if they still exist? This was 35 years ago. Could it really be as good as I remember??? Hell yes!!! It was the pinnacle of wienerdom!! Hot-Diggety-Dog-Liscious!!! Franken-Fu**in-Tastic!!!

    There was also an incredible pizza place unimaginatively called Steve’s Pizza run by an Italian guy in his 30′s that could barely speak English – incredible subs and pizza!! To die for. Directly across the street from the White Rabbit.

    I sat in with some local band at a place called the East Town Saloon. They were doing Pure Prairie League and other country rock covers. So we laid a coupla Hot Burrito’s on ‘em along with Marshall Tucker’s ‘Can’t You See’ & ’24 Hours At a Time’ and J.J. Cale’s ‘Call Me the Breeze’ and ‘Magnolia.’ And the Raiders’ ‘Freeborn Man.’ Plus a cover of ‘Blue Sky’ that was pretty fun and jammin’. If I remember right, I think the band’s name might have been Blue Sky too.

    If I ever get back there I gotta revisit, if anything is still there (developers probably ruined Spring Lake by now).

    All this stuff (except Spring Lake) was on the same street which was made of bricks. I think it was called Wealthy Avenue. Where else would a rich bitch live, right?

    Ah the memories, excuse me, again.

  • Charles Bentley

    GREETINGS:
    Have to jump in here for a couple of points.

    First – JMac is right, there was another train-themed restaurant. I believe it was called “The Depot” (although I could be wrong on the name). It began in the early ’70s and did huge business for a while. I recall it was the first place I’d eaten that offered shrimp and mushrooms sauteed in vermouth. Outstanding!

    Second – Sorry Hal and Jim L, but Pinks is a true L.A. legend. I’ve heard friends offer similar comments about the Original Tommy’s (not so much though since the company made its newer stands “family friendly”). I don’t go there for lobster and veal, just as I don’t go to Lawry’s The Prime Rib for a chili dog or chile verde. It’s about the cuisine, and them dogs can hunt!

    Third – As for Dodger Dogs, they still rate at the top of the menu when it comes to “Stadium” offerings. I’ve been to plenty of sporting events, big and small, and there’s something about the aroma of grilled Dodger Dogs wafting through the stadium on a warm summer’s night. Trust me, from border to border and coast to coast (plus Hawaii; sorry, I have no Alaska experience thus far, although I hear they grill up some mean reindeer sausage for the Iditarod!), Dodger Dogs are part of the national pastime and my waistline.

    Finally – David, when you do something on Breakfast at Carl’s, please ask about two things: 1) The amazing coupons they used to run in the old Progress Bulletin. They had some tremendous deals back in the day, especially on pancakes (or did they call them flap jacks even back then?). 2) The Cocky Leeky soup is unbelievable. Look at a bowl and tell me you believe there is no dairy involved. I’m not seeking the recipe, just the history of how this traditionally Scottish offering made it on the menu and became such a favorite among the locals.

    [What I'll do before writing about BC's is post something here for readers to comment or suggest questions. Otherwise there's no way I'm going to remember to ask about coupons and Cocky Leeky soup. Actually, it's possible I WOULD remember, but I'd rather save the brain cell. -- DA]

  • Jim L

    A couple of excellent train-themed restaurants are Il Treno in Vernon and The Pacific Dining Car in LA (neither of which would be confused with stadium offerings).

    You mention “grilled” Dodger Dogs, Charles. I’ll concede that when they recently started grilling them it was a huge improvement – much like eating one Dodger Dog is a huge improvement over eating two. I’m just saying…

    One can’t argue that Pink’s and Dodger Dogs are LA legends though. I just don’t understand why – no more than I can appreciate ketchup or mayonaise on a hot dog. Yechh!

    As much as I’ve enjoyed Original Tommy’s in the past, I’ve since sworn them off when it was pointed out to me by one of their employees that, unlike other burger chains, they don’t have to have someone haul away their fat drippings from their grill – just add chili spices and serve…

    I didn’t realize that BC Cafe had Cocky Leeky soup (nor did I realize it was Scottish in origin). I do know that Rutabegorz in Fullerton and Orange makes an extremely delicious version that I highly recommend.

    [You forgot Carney's, another train-themed eatery in LA. I passed one on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City last night and there is, or at least was, one on Sunset Boulevard too. As for why I was in Studio City on a Monday night, look for Wednesday's column! -- DA]

  • bob bunch

    I noticed that no one knew about the chain of doggie diners in san francisco. When I was stationed there you couldn’t go two blocks without running into one, they were not the best but were cheap.

  • Shirley Wofford

    In the mid-70′s there was a restaurant in Claremont called the Depot. It was not a train car restaurant, but was in an old depot building in the area of the tracks. It was on the order of a steakhouse, and they had delicious chocolate sundaes for dessert. Before it closed along the way, it became something else with the word “Station” in the title.