Kapu-Kai on eBay


Reader Eric Scherer forwarded an eBay listing (ending Oct. 26!) for a postcard of the fondly recalled Kapu-Kai bowling alley, coffee shop and Tiki bar in Rancho Cucamonga. View the auction and the postcard here.

Scherer drew my attention to wording on the reverse side (shown on the eBay listing): the area code — 714 — and the motto “foremost among Tahitian-Type Entertainment Restaurants – in food – service – exotic surroundings – modest pricing.”

The Kapu-Kai stood at Foothill and Vineyard, where Albertsons is now, from 1962 to 1994. Here’s a previous blog post with lots of great comments.

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A busy week

Tonight is the last Pomona council meeting before the election. The agenda looks quiet but surely something interesting will be said.

Tuesday is the last Ontario council meeting before the election. Ditto and ditto.

Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., “The Maltese Falcon” will screen at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s free as long as you have a ticket from one of the two libraries. I’ve gotta get one. Like the black bird, it’ll be the stuff dreams are made of.

Thursday was clear until a few minutes ago. A nice man from the Mt. San Antonio Gardens retirement home in Pomona phoned to ask if I’d show up that evening and talk about the Pomona elections. “We’ll give you dinner and $100,” he said. I can always use dinner and $100, so I agreed, on the proviso that I’m through by 8:30 p.m., so I can get home in time to catch “The Office.” He agreed.

Boy, I hope I can keep Friday clear.

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Changes on Upland’s restaurant row

Taking Foothill Boulevard east the other day from Claremont, I noticed a few changes among Upland’s restaurant lineup:

* Philly’s Best has gone under, a display of unbrotherly love for cheesesteak fans. That’s apparently a tough corner; the only previous occupant of that side of the building, B-Man’s Teriyaki, didn’t last as long as it should have either.

* Cherry on Top is coming to the former Winchell’s. It’s either ice cream or frozen yogurt, I couldn’t tell. I kept getting green lights.

* The former Country Buffet (was that the name?) has gone through several names as a teppan grill and sushi bar. It’s now Mora.

* East of Euclid, Sizzler is closed, replaced by an almost-identical operation. New name: Sizzlin. The two Zs are in red letters, just like Sizzler. “Steak-Seafood-Grill,” the overline reads.

Some good, some bad, but on balance, Upland hasn’t lost its sizzle.

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Sunday column preview


The exterior of the virtually indescribable wonderland named City Museum.

St. Louis is one of those cities that few people would travel far to see. It’s flyover territory for those of us on the coasts. But I grew up near there and always idealized it as a big city, as it was the only one I knew.

Well, I hope no one groans at hearing that Sunday’s column is about my recent vacation to St. Louis. I had a great time. The subtext, I guess, is that most places have something going for them, even places you might not expect.

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Restaurant/Car Wash of the Week: EZ Take Out

This week’s restaurant/car wash: EZ Take Out Burger/EZ Car Wash, 515 N. Mountain Ave. (at Arrow Highway), Upland.

I suspect this will be a one-week-only permutation of my Restaurant of the Week feature. But why not do a knockoff of myself? EZ Take Out is a transparent copy of In N Out. Yet two of its three Inland Valley locations set themselves apart from any other restaurant you can likely think of by pairing themselves with a car wash.

You can walk up to the window, get a meal and eat at a patio table. You can go through the drive-thru for a meal. Or you can pull into a car wash bay just feet away, drop quarters into the slot and set to work with the wand and the foaming brush. Be careful not to spray the people on the patio!

For the novelty of it, I went in on Sunday, washed my car ($2.50), then parked in the sun and got the Double Take Combo ($6.45 with tax). The Double Take is a double burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and, if you like, onions. The combo gives you thin-cut fries and a medium soda.

I liked the burger, a gooey, greasy version that came wrapped in paper (gee, that seems familiar), and the fries too. Also, the car wash was fine. The water sprayed automatically, without me having to squeeze the trigger, making EZ a good choice for carpal tunnel sufferers. The pink soap was a colorful touch.

The restaurant menu is simple: single and double burgers, a gardenburger and a chicken sandwich. They also have shakes, including the unusual flavor boysenberry. You can get your burger low-carb style, wrapped in lettuce. Or try it as a Wild Thing, which comes fried in mustard. I guess there’s no “secret menu” at EZ.

The car wash menu is likewise simple: tire cleaner, spray, foaming brush, rinse, wax. Oddly, you switch among them by pressing numbers on a silver keypad that looks exactly like one on a pay phone.

There are eight EZ Take Outs, seven in SoCal and one in Utah. The one at Foothill and Central in Upland, founded in 1969, was the first. The chain’s website is www.eztakeout.com.

Circa 1999, btw, I wrote a feature story for the Bulletin on odd combo businesses. One was a Pomona restaurant that serves burgers, donuts and Chinese food (it’s since added fried chicken). One was an Upland carpet store that sold golf clubs (now out of business, I believe). And the third was the Upland EZ Take Out with a car wash.

The franchise owner was pleasant enough but, even when goaded by questions like “Has there ever been a mixup between the two operations — like you made a milkshake with detergent?”, he assiduously avoided humorous comment.

Feel free to supply your own.

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Friday column preview

Every now and then I let slip in print what a geek I am, and Friday is one of those times, as I write in praise of used bookstores. As I say there, they really are among my favorite places. Visiting them on out-of-town trips is a habit ingrained since childhood, and my parents didn’t discourage it; my mom can happily spend an hour in a bookstore.

I love the vast number of sections in the larger used bookstores. While doting on Fiction, Classics, Sci-Fi, Journalism, Humor, Music and Comics, I always get a kick out of the arcane sections full of dusty hardcovers: Military, Railroads, Sailing, British History, Metaphysics, Linguistics, whatever. (Patrons in those sections tend to be dusty, too.) At Brand Bookstore in Glendale, there’s a shelf devoted to Hobos. Amusingly, it rubs patched elbows with a section on Wealth.

The occasion, or rather excuse, for Friday’s column is that Acres of Books in Long Beach closes Saturday. That could have merited a column of its own, as I’ve been there eight or 10 times over the years. (When I was there a couple of months ago most of the good books were already gone, so I wouldn’t encourage anyone to make the trip at this point.)

Instead, I wrote, mostly, about our local bookshops. Did you know the Inland Valley has five used bookstores? Me neither. They all get a plug with their address. Join us Friday for the story, and if you’re reading the print version, be sure to dogear the pages and underline favorite passages.

Any favorite memories of used bookstores?

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‘Mockingbird,’ a skeptical view

There’s a film screening Friday in Pomona of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” followed by a discussion contrasting the book and the movie. This is all part of the Big Read community reading program. The event takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center, 300 W. 2nd St.

Can I admit I think the book and movie are overrated? *

I saw the movie first, a few years back, and, in part because of high expectations, was let down. Gregory Peck is such a model of rectitude, he’s not very interesting. I kept waiting for a big character flaw or plot twist that never came.

My opinion softened a bit last year. I read the book and admired its tone and gentle humor, and its child-level perspective. The movie, seen a second time, expectations grounded, became more enjoyable.

Many read the book in childhood, as a class requirement. Perhaps my opinion would be different had I not come to the book as an adult.

Still, I think the message — to see things from the other guy’s point of view before judging — may be a bit thin to warrant the veneration both book and movie have received. Ultimately I liked them both, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t love them.

Anyone share my puzzlement, or am I all wet?

* Based on the comments, apparently not.

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Take Ontario arena to the bank

There’s an open house at the Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This may be your only chance to explore the arena without buying a ticket for country music, Metallica or hockey.

I can’t explain where the arena is located — unless 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway means something to you — but you can find a map on the arena’s website.

Now, what are we to call this facility with the unwieldy name? I know Citizens Business Bank ponied up money for the naming rights, but we have to be practical.

At the arena, employees are said to be unofficially calling it “See-buh,” a phonetic pronunciation of CCBA.

Sports editor Lou Brewster’s column Tuesday suggests “The Bank.” He also says the shorthand version may show up in sports stories too.

I’ve since pointed out to Lou that I suggested The Bank as a nickname in a column on March 9, 2007, right after the ground-breaking.

“Who reads that?” Brewster replied.


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Wednesday column preview

The Santa Anas seem to have died down today, but they’re the subject of Wednesday’s column anyway. I round up some literary quotes about the winds and make a few observations.

One quote I didn’t have room for was pulled from Wikipedia’s entry. Apparently Debby Boone’s 1978 album “Midstream” has a song titled “California” with this lyric: “…California, where the sun is warm, where the winds called Santa Ana make you feel like you belong…”

Feel like we belong?? That’s a long way from the “prickly dread” of Joan Didion.

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Calorie counts a-comin’

Under a new law, chain restaurants in Calorie-fornia will have to post calorie counts and grams of fat starting in 2011, and provide brochures with that information starting July 1, 2009. But some restaurants are getting a head start.

I ate at a Chick-fil-A in Ontario recently and nutritional information for every menu item was printed on the tray liner. Not that it did me a lot of good, since the liner came under the food I’d already ordered, but it made for good lunchtime reading. If I’d gone for the chargrilled chicken instead of the regular breaded chicken, I’d have saved 130 calories and cut the fat from 16 grams to 3.

Did you know their cole slaw has 32 grams of fat? That’s only one gram less than the Cookies and Cream milk shake, the fattiest item on the menu! Waffle fries, with 13 fat grams, are actually better for you than the slaw. Methinks some tinkering with the recipe is in order.

The same week, I also visited — on the opposite end of the valley, and the fussiness meter — Le Pain Quotidien in Claremont, where they’re now putting calorie counts on the menu. Very helpful, except in the case of beverages. A note explains that calories for beverages range from “5 to 195.” I’d like one closer to 5, please!

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