Restaurant of the Week: Joanne’s Cafe

This week’s restaurant: Joanne’s Cafe, 1141 N. Mountain Ave. (at Princeton), Ontario.

Joanne’s is in an A-frame building on Mountain near Fourth Street and was most recently Home Kitchen. Longtime residents will recall it as the Pie Place. *

I ate there months ago, without reviewing it, when it was still Home Kitchen, and on Friday thought I’d give it a try under the new name. The place seems virtually the same.

Inside it’s a moderately-sized open room, somewhat updated from the classic coffee shop — there are chairs at the counter, for instance, not swivel seats, and carpeting rather than tile — and with a lot of pink, green and orange. Cheery and colorful. I didn’t notice the fish tank until on my way out.

The prices seem reasonable to me. You can get a meatloaf dinner (the menu’s come-on: “Mom’s old recipe will find a new friend in you!”) with vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy, garlic toast and soup or salad for a mere $6.99. The five “senior breakfast” specials (“value-priced for seniors 55 and up”) are priced under $4.

If you want dinner, you’d better have it for lunch: Hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days.

I had a tuna melt ($5.99), with cole slaw rather than fries or fruit. Big and piled thick, on sourdough with cheddar, the sandwich was pretty good. The slaw, kind of tasteless. The server kept the ice tea coming. Overall, an unexciting but pleasant enough experience.

Disappointing, though, that the onetime Pie Place * is now pie-less. But if you need to indulge, there’s a Baskin Robbins next door.

* By acclimation (see all the comments), this was actually an outpost of the House of Pies chain, not The Pie Place. Thanks for the correction.

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  • Tad Decker

    David,

    Thanks for the review; I have wondered if Joanne’s was any good. Oh, and for the sake of historical accuracy, the restaurant was originally called House of Pies, and was indeed decked out in pink and orange.

    [Really? Wonder if it was part of the House of Pies chain? Charles Bentley gave me the Pie Place name, I believe. Could he be (gasp) wrong? Was it House of Pies and then Pie Place? -- DA]

  • DAve

    Yes, the whole Home Kitchen chain (Pomona, Glendora, and the Montclair one I REALLY don’t suggest) really busts out the victuals for chee-ee-eeep. If you find something you like there and/or have many mouths it’s the place.

    Nothing that I’ve ever had there though was GREAT…

  • ray

    House of Pies (Newport Beach) was part of the chain. They would issue paper slippers so the patrons could enter since they were usually barefoot. Great pies !! RUDY’S Sports Bar & Grille took its place. House of Pies all had the “A” framed red roof very much like Tastee Freeze & Der Wienershnitzel.

  • Pat

    It was the House of Pies and there was a chain of them, but I don’t recall it ever being the Pie Place. The building shape resembles that of a house. It did, I have not driven by it lately to see if it has been changed. It started at a time when pies were the latest fad. Marie Callenders was also a pie place at that time. The pie rage followed the pancake house fad. There was a chain of Uncle John Pancake Houses — I remember specifically the one in Santa Barbara and one in Palm Springs. IHOP was another of the chains. I believe there was another, but do not recall the name.

    [Thanks for the historical perspective! -- DA]

  • Ms. Lois

    Hi David,

    Yes, I remember it was the House of Pies. The pink and orange decor was hideous.

  • don J

    There’s still a House Of Pies in Los Feliz if you want it, Dave. There was a real boom in piestore chains in the late ’70s — Poppin’ Fresh is the one I recall, which was renamed Baker’s Square after Pillsbury sold it:
    http://www.bakerssquarerestaurants.com/bsq_pies/history.html

    [Been to House of Pies. Highly recommended. You have to love a restaurant with a rotating sign out front. -- DA]

  • Maria M

    Yes, it was part of the of the House of Pies chain. They were all built looking the same. I always thought the builders did that to make it easy for people to get their pie fix. I was at Chaffey High back then, and my best friend and I made it a personal goal to try a slice of each and every type of pie (not all at once of course, but there were times, especially after losing a football game—).

    Funny, back then, when you went to a House of Pies, no one looked at you like the diet police should be called when the waitress brought your order. We were all in this together.

    [You're makin' me hungry for pie. -- DA]

  • Elizabeth

    I take it this is a regular feature on this website. I wish newspapers would do more of these. I do not care for this area because it has no character. On every corner there is an Applebee’s, etc. I enjoy cities like Pasadena where you can find restaurants with personalities. Anyway, it is nice to find out about “hole in the walls” that I never knew were there. I am sure there are probably lots of them in this area, but I am unaware of them. This feature becomes even more important in today’s economy. People are looking for a pleasant dining experience at a reasonable price.

    [Click on the Inland Valley Eatin' category heading on the right side of the home page and find 50 more of these pieces, Elizabeth. I hear you about all the chains out here, and they can be depressing, but there's plenty of personality-plus places here too. One just has to look a little harder. -- DA]

  • DAve

    The other pancake house chain was SAMBO’S…

    The pc police put that one to sleep…

    Thank God — there’s nothing more racist than pancakes.

  • Robert Glass

    This is a little off the topic of pies but does anyone remember The “Q” on the southeast corner of G st and Mountain ave.? It stands where Del Taco is. Best burgers on Mountain ave.

    Also, the Thunderbird Lanes coffee shop in the ’60s to mid ’70s. Best breakfast and patty melts anywhere. I know, I washed dishes there in 1963 when I was 14 years old.

    [Never heard of The Q. Readers? Oh, and Robert actually typed that he washed dishes at Thunderbird Lanes in 1063, but as that would place his labors around the time of the Battle of Hastings I decided to fix it. Even though it was pretty funny. -- DA]

  • JMac

    I seem to recall that the Q was a drive-thru burger stand. It was similar to the Burger Lanes, I believe.

  • paul heck

    The Q was called “The Burger Q”, it had two drive up windows, one on each side of the small kitchen. The menu board was in the shape of the letter Q. They had a limited selection on the menu, from what I remember the food was pretty good. The Q sat between the gas station and the V.W. dealership.

  • nancy m

    does anyone remember the name of the “fancy” restaurant they had in the Thunderbird lanes in Ontario CA ?