Remembering Lucy and John’s

Lucy and John’s was a restaurant on Route 66 from 1941 to 1955 in what now is Rancho Cucamonga but then was the wilds between Cucamonga and Upland. The building was then transformed into the Magic Lamp, which is still there today. Since my mention of the restaurant in my column, the accompanying artifacts have come to my attention.

Jane Vath O’Connell contributed the photo and Chris Nichols the menu. Both are precious finds, and copious thanks are extended to both contributors. Nichols, responding to my description of Lucy and John’s as a spaghetti house, says: “Please let your readers know that Lucy and John’s offered much more than spaghetti — they also had ravioli.”

Yes, and check the side orders. Radishes and celery, 25 cents! Buttermilk, one slim dime! But feel free to splurge on a 35-cent order of ravioli if you’re feeling flush. Click on the images for a larger view.

I asked Anthony Vernola, whose family has had Magic Lamp since the early 1970s, about Lucy and John’s. He said the couple’s last name was Di Censo Nosenzo. “When John passed away, Lucy ran it and sold it to Mr. Clearman and Mr. Penn. I believe she moved down to the peninsula, to Newport Beach, until she passed on.” Some of the original restaurant remains under the shell of the Magic Lamp — such as the original flat roof, which is under the current peaked, tile roof (“It’s a rooftop on top of a rooftop,” Vernola says with a chuckle), and one visible artifact: the bar.

That means the bar is about 60 years old…or about the same vintage as a lot of the customers.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • Gary Flanagan

    My parents went to Lucy and John’s on their wedding night in 1947 on their way to a Yucca Valley cabin honeymoon. They spoke lovingly of the food as it was a big expenditure for them at the time.

  • Matt Swift

    Referring to the map on the menu – Isn’t “Route 70-99” the same thing as Holt Blvd? or is it Mission Blvd.?

    • davidallen909

      In that era, the 70-99 was indeed Holt (A Street in Ontario). Once the Ramona Freeway, today’s 10, opened, that was officially the new 70-99 and Holt became the Alternate 70-99, i.e., the Business Route. Mission was the 60 prior to the Pomona Freeway. Whew!

  • Natalie Stalwick

    I wonder if Lucy and John were related to the Di Censo family who had a restaurant on Foothill in Upland. Wish I could find my copy of Pomona Queen to check there.

    • davidallen909

      That’s a logical guess. Maybe someone knows.

  • John Clifford

    Wonder why meatless Tuesdays? I would understand meatless Fridays with the Catholic church’s proscription of meat on Fridays at the time, but Tuesday? Did they get their meat deliveries on Wednesday?

    • davidallen909

      That is curious.

    • Allan Lagumbay

      Appears to be a Hoover/war rationing thing: “Under Hoover’s direction, the Food Administration, in league with the Council of Defense, urged all homeowners to sign pledge cards that testified to their efforts to conserve food. The government boards issued the appeal on a Friday. By the following week, Americans had embraced wheatless Mondays, meatless Tuesdays, porkless Saturdays.” ( )

      • Richard_Pietrasz

        Mostly correct, but wrong war and man. Hoover was WW1, this was WW2. John Kenneth Gailbraith may have been in charge of the economy at that point.

        • Allan Lagumbay

          Here’s an article set in the Lucy and John’s era for those among us that do not live in a linear space-time continuum: ( )

          “No meat on Tuesday, no poultry or eggs on Thursday, and saving a slice of bread each day. That was a request of the American people from President Harry S. Truman in an address to the nation on Sunday night, Oct. 5, 1947. It was a historic broadcast, because it was the first presidential address to be televised in addition to being aired on radio. The call for conservation of food was made to provide the shipments needed to prevent starvation and suffering in Europe in the
          coming winter.”

          • John Clifford

            Thanks Allan, It’s so great to have a Librarian to turn to. Here’s hoping that will always be the case here in Pomona!

  • Billy jack attack

    David, in the 80’s there was an Italian restaurant on the corner of Benson and Foothill owned by a family with the name Dicenso. They owned the entire corner and developed it in the 90’s into the current gas station/car wash and strip mall in front of Lowes. Their restaurant then occupied a small space in the strip mall for a couple of years after which they moved to the spot on central that I believe used to be Chronic something or other a few years back. I briefly knew the son Anthony who lived in Newport so I’m guessing its the same familly.