• Gene Harvey

    Wow, David. Two blogs in a row about two of Judy’s and my favorite eating places.

    El Merendero absolutely cannot be beat for top quality Mexican food at ridiculously low prices. They do a huge volume of “to go” business. There are always lines of people at the outside windows whether it’s a routine lunch hour during the week or big events going on like Super Bowl or the Winternationals. But what we love is the interior where you can sit down and be served very quickly and efficiently and not like a fast food place. They come and take your order at the table and then prepare it fresh on the spot even customizing your order if you wish.

    We go regularly once a week, because we love it so much and because it’s so handy. We live nearby in Ganesha Hills south of the Fairplex.

    Now for some history: Thank you so much for the interesting and informative article from the Dragster publication, and the photos from the past are priceless. But the story needs some corrections: There is not and never was a “Merendero family.” El Merendero in Spanish means “lunchroom” or “cafe” or sometimes “cafeteria.” It was owned and operated all these many years, until quite recently, by the Lopez family, Willie and Peche, husband and wife. They did well there and subsequently opened the second location with the same name in downtown Pomona in the Fox Theatre building on the corner. Willie died a few years ago and his wife Peche carried on the business, spending most of her time at the Pomona location.

    Incidentally, the original location is in La Verne (notice the address in the photo on the automobile when it was Elly’s Burgers). I’ve always thought it an interesting case of city limits zig-zaging when you have the drag strip in Pomona on Pomona Fairplex property and El Merendero restaurant immediately next door in La Verne. However, you have the railroad track separating them, so that must be the dividing line.

    Even though Lopez is a very common Mexican name, I’ve always suspected that the Lopez of the restaurant and the Lopez of the Liquor store next door have a close connection. I have no idea who the current owners of the liquor store are, but you can sit in El Merendero and see the very old, original, badly deteriorated “Lopez Liquor” sign on the roof next door.

    Peche Lopez died a couple of years ago (or less time) and the La Verne location has undergone some updating and improvements lately, while still retaining its charm and unpretentious atmosphere.

    [Thanks for correcting the hilarious "Merendero family" bit from the Dragster link -- I was pretty sure that was wrong but didn't have the right name handy! The rest of the history is welcome as well. -- DA]

  • MARILEE WEISS

    OK – I remember when this place had a BIG RED C hanging in the window. There were still lines of people standing outside waiting to order their food. I was not one of them. However, my husband Paul and our blind dog Blinky frequently go there for lunch and enjoy the outdoor seating and what they say is great food. Again, I wouldn’t know. I am still stuck on the big red C, which has now been replaced with an A.

    We too live just south of there in Ganesha hills.

    [Are you waiting for an A-plus? -- DA]

  • Summer Bennett

    Does anyone know the history of Ganesha Hills? Thanks for any info S

    [You may have to be more specific, Summer, unless you want the story to go back thousands of years. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Ganesha history — Google Books; find “Early Pomona,” search for “ganesha” in book. See Pages 7 and 12, then pages beginning at 89.

    [See what you've done, Summer? Now you'll have to do a book report for Mr. House. -- DA]

  • cathy williams

    WOW! You have taken me back so many years — my grandparents lived on Walnut, across from Lopez Liquor (whose owner lived next door on White). My grandfather would walk us across to the restaurant to get soft ice cream cones. Thank you.