Remembering Orlando’s

orlandos1

Photos courtesy of Darin Kuna

Charles Bentley writes to inquire about a fondly recalled Pomona restaurant:

“My father has been trying to come up with the name of a Pomona restaurant that was extremely popular for many years. After many weeks of pondering, he believes the name of the place was Orlando’s.

“A quick check of the ‘Things that aren’t here anymore’ responses comes up with a few references but not too many details.

“As I recall, Orlando’s was not far from the Pomona DMV, but I never ate there. Dad remembers it as being ‘the best place for steaks in Pomona,’ and puts it on a par with RoVals in Cucamonga and The Golden Bull (in Fontana?). Dad also remembers Orlando’s featured a large and lively bar and that the restaurant was usually packed.

“Can anyone out there help with this one?”

My files indicate that Orlando’s was at Holt and Dudley, by the DMV, and was known for its steaks and its dumplings. But it was before my time. Anyone able to tell us more?

orlandos2

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  • Jim L

    I remember Orlando’s fondly. Orlando’s was at Holt at Erie – across from Burger Lane. Mr Bentley is correct – it was THE steak house and was always packed. As far Pomona restaurants go, Orlando’s and The St. Charles Grill were the most upscale Pomona restaurants at the time and Orlando’s, along with Espiau’s, “anchored” West Holt.

    Orlandos wasn’t a kid friendly place so only on rare occasions did my parents take me there. My last visit to Orlando’s was on a date in high school shortly before it closed.

    For many years after Orlando’s closed I’d drive past the shuttered Orlando’s, hoping it would reopen. The building is still there though and over the years since its closing, it’s housed some struggling businesses including a teen club and banquet banquet facility. I noticed recently that the sign out front now reads “Chateau” but appears to be closed.

    I’m curious if Chateau was in any way connected to the long closed Chateau restaurant/coffee shop that occupied an A-Frame building (still standing vacant) on Holt a few blocks east of Orlando’s.

    [Thanks, Jim. I never knew where Orlando’s was so now I know what building to look for. — DA]

  • Jerry Title

    Orlando’s was THE place to be seen in the 60’s. Best in the Pomona Valley. A great bar, great atmosphere, great steaks and seafood. The place to be on Saturday night, if you could get in.

  • Roland Pahner

    Boy, do I remember Orlando’s! As I recall there were two brothers. Orlando and Rolando? They had the best steaks in town.

    Orlando was a customer of mine ’63-’70. My wife, kids and I uised to eat there about once a month. Our kids still ask about Orlando’s. Even after I sold the business we still used to go there. And you are right it was on the west side of town by DMV on Holt ave. Great drinks too.

    I also remember Donahoos (?) in West Covina. I always thought Col Sanders put them out of business. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that they are still open in Ontario and Pomona.

    ROY: Chaffey class of ’45

  • Ramona Fredericks

    I, too, fondly remember Orlando’s as a being the posh place to go. My peeps felt more comfortable there than at the more posh St. Charles Grill.

    The bar had small combos and a dance floor. I fondly remember a drummer who would occasionally take a riff with his brushes ending with a wide swipe in the air accompanied with the comment “Darn flies!” Just to be clear, there were no flies in Orlando’s. It was just the drummer’s signature move.

    Just inside the entrance to Orlando’s was a lobby-like area where one could sit in comfort to wait for one’s table to be ready. This seating area had a good-sized fountain in the middle. While beautiful, it could necessitate a visit to the very nice restrooms if one had to wait too long.

    Ah, good times.

    Ramona

  • Joanne Boyajian

    Orlando’s was the place for General Dynamics functions — retirement parties, luncheons, dinners, etc. It reminded me of the Magic Lamp and the Steak n’ Stein restaurants. . . very dark.

  • JoAnn Balderrama

    My uncles, Roland and Orlando Paris, owned Orlando’s with their wives Marion and Angie.

    Without a doubt, it was the best restaurant in the Pomona area. The quality of their food was on par with any four star restaurant.

    Orlando’s son, Bobby, tended bar there for many years. My brother was a line cook there also. And my grandfather did the landscaping work.

    Sadly, Orlando passed away a few months ago but his wife Angie still lives in Mission Viejo. Roland and Marion are both gone too.

    But the memories they all left behind of good times and wonderful food at Orlando’s will be remembered by so many. The wonderful prime rib, steaks and lobster, the homemade bleu cheese dressing and the made-from-scratch cheesecake still lingers in my memory.

    Thank you for letting me take a stroll down memory lane.

    JoAnn Balderrama

    [Thank YOU for the comment, JoAnn. You’ve added to our storehouse of information about this old-time favorite, and this blog, where strolls down memory lane are the main form of exercise, is the better for it. — DA]

    • Joe Mannella

      JoAnn do you have any idea where we might be able to get a photo of Orlando’s? We would love to have one in our fb group “Growing Up in the Inland Empire. My dad owned The Noble Inn in Upland on Foothill we have a photo of that and 4,500 others. Thank You

  • Don J

    Oh yeah, it was a popular all-ages dance club in the mid-’80s called Grand Central Station.

  • “Hal Linker”

    I, too, fondly remember Orlando’s. Along with the Sycamore Inn and the Magic Lamp, it was one of my parents’ favorite “quality” restaurants.

    It was on the SW corner of Erie and Holt. The old Pomona DMV (pre-Beaver Court)was down the road a few hundred yards (that’s where I secured my first driver’s license – ahh the memories).

    I can still picture their burgundy red booths. My parents would go at least once a month, usually when taking friends out to dinner, or vice versa.

    They would also take the family out with them for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. My parents used to like to dance to the band. They would always tell them that their son was a drummer (my primary instrument at the time). This almost always resulted in me being invited up to sit in with the band – something I felt very embarrassed by and forced to do.*

    I also remember taking different girlfriends there for lunch in the 1970s. They offered an appetizer buffet of sorts for salads and various soups. Also juicy tender cuts of meat soaking in sauces or gravy of some type. They also had an amazing burger for lunch!

    I don’t know why, but everything always seemed to end up at the Lemon Tree Motel. It was just a hop, skip and jump from Orlando’s Erie location to the Five Points Corner and then up what is now called Fairplex Drive.

    I don’t know when the restaurant ceased to be. I think the last few times I went there were either in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

    At some point, Orlando’s shut down and the building became a dance place for the twenty-something crowd. When that failed, it got boarded up. The last time I was out that way, it was part of a business center and was being used as a meeting room. But that was a while ago.

    On a side note, anyone remember the Castaway Restaurant which, for some reason, left Pomona? I think there is still one in Burbank — also Berdoo.

    *They used to pull the same thing when they went to The Sky Room. The Sky Room was a pretty good little restaurant out Mira Loma way on Hamner Avenue. Oddly, it was located above a recreation room at a senior trailer park called Swan Lake. I don’t think the restaurant is there anymore, but I could be wrong. Anyway, my parents would somehow talk the band into letting me sit in with them at that location as well. Anyone know anything about the Sky Room at Swan Lake?

  • “Hal Linker”

    Roland Pahner and/or Roy Chaffey Class of ’45 mentioned the Donahoo’s chicken outfits.

    I know I brought these places up before, but does anyone remember Unruh’s Chicken in Pomona?

    Or Little Bill’s on South Garey?

  • Charles Bentley

    GREETINGS:

    David, a big thank you to you and all your dedicated readers/followers/responders. I will print out all the responses from this blog and give it to my dad. I know he’ll appreciate hearing that Orlando’s was just as he recalls it, an outstanding local establishment that still holds fond memories for so many.

    My special thanks to JoAnn Balderrama. Your ability to provide additional history is very special. These are the ties that keep the legacy of such fine “Things that aren’t here anymore” alive and well for future generations.

    A few responses: Yes, I remember The Sky Room. I recall the drive there was usually made in daylight, but the return trip was almost always after dark, and back then Hamner was a very dark road.

    Castaway Restaurant is now a Cuban restaurant, the Coco Palm, located at 1600 Fairplex Drive (what used to be Ganesha). There is still a Castaway in Burbank (adjacent to De Bell Golf Course), San Bernardino (on Kendall Drive, not far from Shandon Hills GC) and in Tampa, Fla. As I recall, the Pomona location always had trouble with rodents because of their hillside location. But it had a wonderful view (something shared by all the Castaway restaurants) and was a popular spot for many years.

    Forgive me, I’m not familiar with Unruh’s Chicken. Little Bills featured broasted chicken and potatoes and had several valley locations. I was more familiar with the Little Bill’s on 4th Street in Ontario, which was close to the All States Frosty.

  • Randall Volm

    I, too, remember Orlando’s Restaurant. As I stated in David’s January blog “Things That Aren’t Here Anymore,” it was one location my dad tried to buy with a friend of his who owned the Cask ‘n Cleaver restaurant in Cucamonga. Although I’m more familiar with the one that sat west of Central Avenue on Foothill Blvd. in Upland before it burned down.

    As others have stated before me here, Orlando’s was THE place to go for great steaks, and I was saddened to see it go.

  • Larry Dickey, Garey ’69

    I worked at Little Bill’s in the mid-60’s on South Garey. The broasted chicken was so good. Atmosphere was not great, but the food made up for it.

    Larry Dickey

  • John Barnett

    I remember Orlando’s as a steak and prime rib restaurant. I worked there in the ’60s with a very volatile bar manager named Herb Neyman and his son Danny. And with waitresses like Norma Jean Sniderwent and Louise Gustin. I think the original owners were the Paris family. Then bought by Bill Rudnic, who also had the old Papa Bill’s on Holt across from Sears.

    Orlando’s was a big General Dynamics hangout, great place to eat and drink. Lot of fond memories there.

    [John, thanks for the insights. — DA]

  • Betsy Kinder

    Not only was Orlando’s a great steak house, it was also a restaurant with a touch of class. I fondly remember my co-workers having a farewell lunch for me in the banquet room. Not only do I miss Orlando’s but I miss the Barrister, St. Charles Grill, Betsy Ross, Seapy’s and Espiau’s. I still live in Pomona and I love Pomona but I miss all of those wonderful restaurants.

    Betsy Kinder

    • mason1611 .

      Yes there were so many great food places do you remember Woody’s A charbroiled buger joint that was real popular but burnt down there first year ?

  • Rick Buran

    My Uncle Rollie owned Orlando’s with my Aunt Marion. My grandfather owned Wilson’s on Garey & Foothill. So I know quite a bit about the whole story. If anyone has any questions or wants to talk to me just send me an e-mail.

    [His e-mail is ricksfoundart@yahoo.com. — DA]

  • JMac

    Wilson’s would morph into La Paloma around ’66-67, I believe.

  • Bob House

    An Orlando’s menu from the ’50s was posted on Ebay today. Mixed drinks priced at 65 cents!!

  • Dale

    Unruh’s Ranch Kitchen was on the corner of Garey and Mission in Pomona. It was owned by Hank and Betty Unruh and closed in the early ’70s. They were also partners in the Taco Lita restaurants.

    I think it was open less than 10 years.

    • mason1611 .

      OMG Taco Lita how many times I have craved there Burrito

  • Pennie Bleil

    My mom worked at Orlando’s for years. I always went there for my b-day and they would bring out a cake with a sparkler on it. She raised 3 kids on waitress tips. It has a lot of memories for me.

  • Steve Mitchell

    I have so many mixed feelings about Orlando’s. Those who worked at General Dynamics (GD) would refer to it as Building #5 I believe. Many contracts were discussed and signed at Orlando’s.

    My Dad, rest his soul, must have spent a king’s ransom on food and drinks there! I would not be surprised if some of you knew him, Gordon Mitchell. I do remember a lot of cigarette smoke and the band. I also remember my dad and Stepmother Sue taking me there for “All you can eat” Alaskan King Crab legs! Best I have ever had to date.

    Sadly my Dad spent too much time and drink at Orlando’s, more than my mother could stand, thus they divorced. But I will never forget Orlando’s and it will always be part of my memories of growing up in Pomona/Claremont.

    [Steve, thanks for your comment, full of feeling, mixed though it was. — DA]

  • Craig E. Hellman

    Memories of Orlando’s as i worked at the Market Basket food store across the street from Orlando’s and went there for a drink with my buddies after work, great food and drink !!! Glad I lived on Myrtle, next door to great people, wilber/peggy who had Espiau’s small world!!

  • Mike Jaynes

    My wife and I celebrated our anniversary and every other important events at Orlando’s until it closed. Wonderful meals and such nice people.

    We were celebrating the near arrival of our first child in August of 1963 when my wife went into labor. She finished the meal but frightened our waitress. The waitress ran up to our table and said, “Don’t worry, I’ve found two doctors here having dinner. You’re covered!”

    Things worked out well and my son was born. My wife did have 41 hours of hard labor though! We did return for many other celebrations.

    We dearly loved the salad they served in a large bowl spininng on a bed of ice as they poured the home-made creamy french-garlic dressing over it. Does anyone still have that receipe? I’ve tried to make it, but…

  • Betty Stelmah

    Orlando’s was frequented regularly by the people working at General Dynamics, Pomona, located fairly near to Orlando’s.

    Gave them a good place to eat and with enough privacy to still be able to talk work safely.

    And, they just plain liked the place.

  • David Boyer

    I remember Orlandos fondly. I picture the red leather booths when I hear of it. I worked for the Navy in the 1970’s and spent a lot of time at General Dynamics Pomona on Standard Missile. I stayed at the Pomona Motelodge within walking distance down Holt. There was a bowling alley on that street, as I recall, and a Denny’s on the other side of Holt to which late-night merry-makers would straggle for breakfast. I recall people mentioned above and many more from GD/P in those days, and I enjoyed and respected them all. I thought I might retire to Calif till they accumulated an eighth of the US population. Too busy for me now. DLB Cape Cod

  • John Crowe

    I remember going to Orlando’s for a reception for the Baseball player Bill Singer, who was a Pomona boy. That would have been in the sixties. My sister says his father worked at GD so that may be the reason it was held there. Orlando’s was a good place for that kind of thing. It was one of my parents’ favorite spots. They loved to dance so I guess they had dancing there also. Later on they switched to the Mural House in Ontario by the old airport entrance on Holt Ave and Vineyard Ave.

  • JD Delano

    I wish I had the recipe for the dumplings and the other side dish that came along with the meals. If I remember correctly it looked like a stuffing with kind of a sweet taste.

  • muhammad Abbasi

    I was a student at Cal Poly and started as a busboy there in 1974 and did wait tables for a while. There were Lary, busboy/waiter, Jeff and Randy working there. I would love to hear from them. Nancy, Irene, Norma, Laura and a lot of other nice people. A lot of good memories.

    • curt curt

      I remember orlandos, I belive a german guy named Fred bought it in 1969 or 1970 then sold it fairly soon after that. I also remember griswolds, bit o Sweden smorgersboard, mels burgers and the chicken place at the corner of gary and foothill ( cant remember the name though ) also trips to chino for mr. Taco and off to Ontario for vinces speggetti.

      • davidallen909

        The chicken place was Henry’s, right? Search for it on this blog and you’ll find plenty of photos and memories.

  • JD

    I grew up in Pomona, my Father worked at General Dynamics and in 1974 he started working as a Bartender at Orlando’s. His Name Freddie (Marty) Martinez I’m one of his sons David Martinez. Sadly my father passed away this past January.

  • Linda Kelley Gilbertson

    I was married to Orlando’s nephew Ronald Paris. I knew Orlando well. God Bless him. He was good to me.