Remembering St. Charles Grill

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In its day, the St. Charles Grill was one of the finest restaurants in Pomona. Located at 158 W. Holt Ave., a half-block west of Garey Avenue, the restaurant served steaks, chops, lobster and other delicacies, waited on celebrities passing through town (as they did in the pre-freeway era) and hosted service clubs and wedding receptions in its banquet room. There were even some apartments rented out up above.

St. Charles Grill opened in 1930 and faded out in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The space reopened as Alpine Haus (!) in 1973 and as Lucier’s in 1979. (Thanks to the Pomona Public Library for the names and dates.) The building has been vacant for many years and is currently for lease sale.

I’ll be writing a column about the place in the near future. You’re encouraged to comment here with any memories of the St. Charles — the food, decor, atmosphere, staff or whatever else you’d care to share.

Photo courtesy Growing Up in Pomona Facebook page

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  • Bob House

    When I was a kid, sometime in the late 50s-early 60s, my Dad took me with him to an Optimist Club luncheon in an upstairs dining room at the St. Charles. The optimism didn’t take, but I remember feeling especially grown up in the fancy surroundings. I seem to remember a print shop in the downstairs space in the mid-late 80s.

  • http://imgesofpomonabyren.blogspot.com Ren

    This place is supposed to be haunted.

  • John Clifford

    I don’t know about haunted, but I do know that the owner had restored the upstairs apartments and then had robbers come in and steal all the copper in the place, even pulling out wire that was “hot.” Destroyed any chance that he had for renting the place out, especially as the theft meant that all new wiring had to be put in, including new circuits to bring the place up to code. A very expensive proposition.

    [That's terrible! -- DA]

  • Ramona

    In the days of my youth I remember the St. Charles as being a “classy” place to dine. Many of us young women longed for the day when our dates would be “classy” enough to invite us to dinner there.

    Alas, I never met any fella with the “class” or the money with whom to dine there before it closed. **Sigh**

    However, I have been treated to dinner at the Sycamore Inn. Does that count?

    [The Sycamore is classy. And it's still in business, another plus. -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    My father is quite “well known” in Pomona for his 40 plus years of providing “football cards” to all the sports fans in town. For awhile, he ran them out of Lucier’s in the mid eighties. The owner back then also owned Joe’s Rendezvous on W. Holt and the Backdoor on E. Mission. All three establishments were a little shady but it was kind of fun to be the old man’s son. I know for a fact that my mom and dad went there occasionally, and to Orlando’s also.

  • Danny Mac

    The name Lucier’s came from one of the many owners, Joe Lucier. The bar downstairs dates back to the 1920′s and Hollywood stars (Norma Jean) would stop in on the way to Palm Springs. I met my wife there. She was tending the bar in the late 80′s. She saw wine glass fly off the back bar and heard footsteps on the stairs…yes it was a rumor with the locals it was a little bit scary. Also, the only place I was 86′d right on the seat of my pants on Holt Ave..why? I was in Love.

  • Kevin Curtis

    The owner from back in the Saint Charles Grill best days Besse Fogel is a very good friend of mine. She is still alive and doing well. She has many great memories from those days and talks about them often. She is a great lady that can lift your spirits on your worst days. I asked her about the Saint Charles being haunted and she told me she never saw anything out of the ordinary. She got a kick out of the rumor.

    [You'll be interested to know, Kevin, that Sunday's column will be about the St. Charles and much of the information came from an interview with Besse. -- DA]

  • Margery McEligot

    My dad and his partner (both engineers at the old General Dynamics down the road) owned the St. Charles from approximately mid 1960s to mid 1970s.

    Wonderful memories growing up there, spectacular food, wonderful customers. My dad made all of us kids (who were old enough) work at the restaurant. He made us do every job, from cleaning toilets, mopping kitchen floors, stocking the walk-in refrigerators and store rooms, serving customers, waitressing, bookkeeping, cooking (of course under the direction and guidance of the chefs – who by the way cut us no slack). I would whisper my displeasure (quietly behind his back) but I realized much later on – he was teaching us good old-fashioned work ethics – He would always say “Remember, you’re never too good to do any of these jobs, don’t ever look down on or disrespect anyone who does them for a living.”

    Great years, great memories. Oh if only the walls could talk – the “bar fly regulars” and employees were all colorful characters – everyone had a story… It’s been decades but I still miss it.

  • Dan Neuenschwander

    My grandfather who was 80 something at the time, would visit us from Chicago back in the mid 60′s when we lived in Montclair. He liked the St. Charles as it reminded him of a place on Wabash in Chicago called George Diamond’s, who used to serve up a 2-3 inch thick cut Porterhouse steak. It is too bad that some of these places have fallen into disrepair, or have gone the way of the wrecking ball. Another place that comes to mind that happened to recently was the San Gorgonio Inn out in the Beaumont/Banning area.