Padua Hills Theatre sign, 1950s

padua theater sign

This photo from the archives of Claremont Heritage is said to date to the 1950s. (Click on the image for a larger view.) The sign stood on the corner of Foothill Boulevard (a.k.a. Route 66) and Padua Avenue, today’s Monte Vista Avenue, and directed people to the theater in the foothills. The neon portion is hard to read but the arrow portion reads “3 Miles.”

The painted sign changed as productions by the Mexican Players changed. This one was for the “17th annual spring festival play,” titled “En el Mes de Mayo,” or “In the Month of May.” The people who object to local billboards in Spanish should definitely get in a time machine and complain.

The theater opened in 1930 and closed in 1974. I don’t know any history of the sign, such as when it went up and when it came down, or on which corner it stood. Did you ever see it?

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Restaurant of the Week: El Cantarito



El Cantarito, 1190 E. Mission Blvd. (at Reservoir), Pomona

The folks behind Pomona’s Sabor Mexicano, about which I posted in 2011, have a second restaurant, El Cantarito. I’d been meaning to try it ever since the owners emailed to tell me about it, two years ago, but I kept forgetting the name and location. Recently, though, as I made dinner plans with a friend, this place came to mind while I was online, and I searched my email for the name and address. El Cantarito, here I come!

Sabor’s specialty is D.F. and Oaxacan food. El Cantarito focuses on seafood and goat. You might say, goat? But I’ve had it a time or two, a few years back, and had no compunction about ordering it again.

El Cantarito, across Mission from Golden Ox Burgers, is in an unassuming yellow building with two archways and a Spanish tile roof. And a nifty mural on the Reservoir side. Inside it looks like a former fast-food spot, with its fake brick walls, but you sit down to order. We got Mexican Cokes, birria seca and fajitas.

The fajitas, with beef, chicken and shrimp, plus peppers and onions ($14, below), were pronounced excellent by my friend, who said: “I think it’s one of the best things I’ve had in all our outings.” My birria seca ($8.50, bottom), or barbecued goat, was served dry, with lemons, cilantro and onions and a broth on the side. The rice and beans were blah, but the goat was great. The texture was like pulled pork, but the taste was deeper and smokier. As my friend put it, impressed, “It’s a lamb-ier version of lamb.”

Service was attentive and friendly. The menu had the usual Mexican staples and several shrimp dishes, although my initial plan of ordering a shrimp cocktail was foiled because they were out of shrimp that night. That was fine. I was happy to get my goat.



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Trader Joe’s signs from Upland live on


Signs from the interior south wall of the Upland Trader Joe’s, which closed last month, haven’t left town: The Cooper Regional History Museum, 217 A St., has them. Director Marilyn Anderson requested and got them from the manager. They were on the wall to your left if you were checking out. Upland-themed signs that named each checkstand were claimed by a second history nonprofit, Upland Heritage.

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Strawberry patch ripe for development*


A former strawberry patch in Claremont, eyed for development for years, is now slated for 95 townhomes, my colleague Liset Marquez reports.

The site at Base Line Road and Towne Avenue is easy to be conflicted about. A KCET commentary by Pomona College environmental analysis professor Char Miller last month expressed mixed feelings: Good to have infill housing by a freeway, sad to have an agricultural remnant depart.

“The farm has fallen victim to a post-recession land rush that’s in the process of converting a number of empty lots in Claremont. Six developments, totaling nearly 700 new housing units, are underway,” Miller writes.

I stopped by one morning last week to take a photo and was surprised to find the stand still in operation. While the produce on view — including strawberries — may be “fresh picked,” the picking occurred elsewhere. Nothing is grown on that land anymore.

* Update: The council, on a 3-2 vote Feb. 25, rezoned the property to allow residential uses only, rather than residential and commercial. The townhome developer promised that the strawberry patch would be memorialized in a piece of public art.

“It was the last agricultural parcel in the city,” Councilman Sam Pedroza told me later. “We were an agricultural city and now we kind of officially got away from that…There were a lot of long faces.”

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Column: With sandwich, Montclair meeting becomes dinner theater

For a change of pace, and also to hear the discussion about the Gold Line, I attended Tuesday’s Montclair City Council meeting. I decided kind of late to go, and was starving. So I got a sandwich on my way, to go, and took it to eat during the meeting. Despite having attended hundreds, maybe a thousand, public meetings in my career, this was a first. Who says I can’t innovate?

(Although the audience was sparse and I tried to eat discreetly — such as taking bites of my crunchy sandwich when people were applauding — I felt a little guilty about the whole thing. Didn’t want to seem rude. Of course, there’s no sign on the door banning “outside food and drink,” I bought my meal in Montclair and everyone expects newspapermen to be ill-mannered slobs, so maybe I got a pass.

Sunday’s column about the meeting can be read here. And I’ve updated my 2008 blog post about Super Sandwich here, adding photos.

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Restaurant of the Week: Taco Hut


Taco Hut, 9451 Foothill Blvd. (at Hellman), Rancho Cucamonga; other locations at 11815 Foothill, Rancho Cucamonga, and 1150 E. Philadelphia St., Ontario

Taco Hut is a Rancho Cucamonga mainstay, located in the AutoZone center between Hellman and Archibald. The signs say “Est. 1982.” Two other locations have opened in recent years, one in the Masi Plaza on the east side of town, the other in south Ontario.

I’ve been to the original a few times over the years. Because its absence from this blog was overdue to be remedied, a friend and I met there for dinner recently. The interior is more colorful and modern than I recall, presumably the result of a fire that closed the restaurant a few years ago until remodeling could take place. The walls have kitschy sombreros, serapes and miniature guitars as decor, as well as a fringe of hut-like straw. The glass-topped tables have serape-like fabric underneath.

The menu is extensive with the usual tacos, burritos, etc., plus seafood dishes, hamburgers and salads. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had an asada burrito ($7, below), my friend had a shrimp quesadilla ($10). “It was so good,” he said with satisfaction. My burrito was likewise quite good, the steak, fluffy rice and refried beans melding into a delicious whole.

Great food, and the service was exceptionally friendly. All hail the Hut.



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Column: Comic book exhibit bursts into Upland museum


An exhibit at the Cooper Regional History Museum in Upland is devoted to comics and Pop art. It’s the subject of my Wednesday column.

Above, a 1966 Jughead comic on display has a commentary on Pop art, neatly tying the two threads of the exhibit together.

One thing I left out of the column was a crack about the exhibit’s name, which appears to be “Let’s Have Some Fun at the Cooper Museum Pop Art Exhibition.” Gosh, let’s. If the exhibit finds another home after its May 31 end at the Cooper, a new name should be a priority.

Two short videos that I shot feature co-curators John Atwater and Anthony Ghosn.

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