Remembering the Fair’s food court

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The L.A. County Fair’s food court was recently demolished. See Friday’s column for more on that.

The top view of the Food Circle, as it was first known, is said to date to 1939, its debut year. (It’s from a fair calendar, which accounts for the type at the bottom.) Bonnie’s Southern Fried Chicken, Hap’s Cafe, Hamburger King and Brock’s Swiss Steak are among the original stands.

Examine the photo carefully. Did the fair really have a stand devoted to creamed chicken?

The food court was renamed Super Diner in 1985 after a remodel and Sunset Cabana in 2003 after another remodel. The second photo was shot in 2009. Friday’s column is in part about the food court, which was demolished in December.

Anyone have any memories or comments to share about the Food Circle?

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  • Clark Burnett

    What a shame to see another historic building demolished at the L.A. County Fair. I was raised in Ontario and have attended the Fair just about every year since 1957 and have seen lots of changes. Unfortunately, the Fair continues to lose its historical ambiance. It’s interesting to note in the photo how “formal” people dressed for the Fair. It was a “class act” for many years with lots of fond memories.

  • DebB

    What I find interesting about this pic is the clothing. Women in dresses and (I’m sure) stockings, men in suits and ties. So dressy, and at that hot time of the year! I remember going to the Fair in the ’50s, but I was too young to notice the dress code.

  • Jeannette

    The clothing is such a standout in this photo. There was a time when we had such style. Now it seems a t-shirt or tropical shirt is dressy. I miss that era. The food was better too, I’m sure.

  • Kristy

    So glad Sunset Cabana is gone! That place had the most disgusting food imaginable! It will be nice to have that whole area open and available now. 😀

  • Karen Politovich Brown

    I remember a rib joint there, open pit type bbq, that was our family’s favorite. It was always exciting to go to the food circle, so many types of food. It was fun just looking at them all, but we always had the ribs. Haven’t been to the fair since 2001. The food circle was still there then. What a shame. Hope they don’t go after those beautiful exhibit buildings or the garden building. *sigh*

    Also loved the official Hot Dog on a Stick. Corn dogs never taste as good as those. I had 3 the last time I went to the fair, by myself (throughout the day, not all at once!). I was taking care of my mother, who was ill, so she could not accompany me. I told myself I was eating the extra corn dogs for her, but I really wasn’t.


    Back in 1963 I worked as a dishwasher here for Bonnie’s Southern House — I was a senior in high school and worked for $1.25 an hour — no dishwashing machine then — ‘nope’ — all done in hot water by hand!! — broke a few dishes too! DUNCAN FOX

  • John Clifford

    I was just amazed by the comment in your article from the Fairplex officials that it “wasn’t historic or a landmark.”

    Having sat through many Pomona Historic Preservation Commission meetings where the historic value was debated, I doubt they’d ever get by with such a statement. A building that has been on the same location since 1939 is automatically protected from demolition by the Pomona Historic Ordinance. I’m guessing that for some reason Fairplex doesn’t need city permits to demolish? And wouldn’t 1939 be from the period when the WPA was building fair buildings? Was this part of that program?

    Unbelievable that the questions weren’t even allowed to be asked.

  • John Clifford

    Oh, and for Kristy. I wouldn’t blame the building for the quality of the food. I’m sure you could have had good food there if Fairplex would have put good vendors in the site.

  • barbara f

    We may have been obliged to dress a bit more formally when going to the fair, which we did do, but the food there wasn’t anything to write home about. I remember just looking at a plate of high-ticket chicken cacciatore that my chaperone had waited quite some time for … and I fully understood why it went sailing straight into the rusty round old oil barrels they used as trash cans.