Friday’s column is about a new restaurant in an old location that has seen tenants come and go. Mustang Sally’s hopes to capitalize on its Route 66 location near the Pacific Electric bridge and its patio overlooking the street.
The Melt, 7870 Monet Ave. (in Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga
The Melt is a San Francisco-based burger chain with a small number of locations in California and Colorado. I’d eaten once at the Sunset and Vine restaurant and was only barely conversant with it before one opened earlier this year at Victoria Gardens.
The menu has burgers, grilled cheese, two salads, tomato soup and mac ‘n’ cheese, plus milkshakes and all-natural sodas. The corporate ethos is to use better ingredients and no preservatives. They also serve craft beer and wine.
On my first visit I ordered the grilled cheese and tomato soup combo ($10) and got a black cherry soda. It was a warming, basic meal. Frankly, it was forgettable, but pleasantly so.
I wanted to return sometime for a milkshake after trying the overdone version at The Mug Shakes. On my second visit, then, I got the swiss and shrooms burger ($7) with fries ($2.45) and a mint chocolate chip shake ($5). Other choices were vanilla bean, double chocolate, cookies and cream, snickerdoodle (!) and salted caramel.
Very good burger, which came with grilled onions and greens, on a poppyseed bun, and the fries, sprinkled with oregano, were addictive. The shake had a crumbled cookie, like a Thin Mint, on top and I liked it too.
A couple of small tables stand outside the restaurant, beyond which is more of a communal patio with chairs in cheerful primary colors. The restaurant is along the made-over street for youngish people with outdoor seating, stylized crosswalks and sidewalks, and overhead strings of lights. I like it.
Murals from the old Red Chief Motel’s restaurant have been pulled from storage and put on view at Upland’s Cooper Museum. My column Wednesday is about the murals and the motel, with some details provided from the 1940s by an eyewitness.
The Red Chief was in business on Route 66 in Cucamonga, pre-Rancho, from 1936 to 1977, although from 1962 on, it was the Sycamore Motel, reflecting its neighbor, the Sycamore Inn, according to phone directory listings. The office/restaurant building still exists, if heavily remodeled, as Gao Sushi.
The photo above comes from the Model Colony History Room of the Ontario City Library. The view above is looking east on Foothill. The photo below, courtesy of the Gentleman Racer blog, shows the building last year, before the Notice of Filing sign for development went up.
Now compare these two photos — above, from Marilyn Anderson’s Hometown Spirit newsletter; below, from Michelle Lindley — taken from the same vantage point but some time apart and with crucial differences.
The Red Chief sign has moved off the roof and to the roadway, with the cafe sign incorporated beneath; also, the motto “Excellent Food” has been added to the building. That’s all I noticed, except to observe that the photo below was taken on a hazy or smoggy day, as the mountains have disappeared.
The postcard below comes from the Model Colony History Room — “for those who care.”
The remaining images come courtesy of Jane Vath O’Connell. Lindley has a photo of the ashtray too, and as her grandparents owned the motel in its latter years, I’ll accept it as genuine even though it seems generic.
Do you have any memories of the motel? Post a comment for posterity’s sake, please.
Julian Hernandez, 7, wanted to meet Upland Mayor Ray Musser, so he wrote a letter with the help of his godmother and was invited to see him at City Hall.
“Julian told him he wants to be a mayor when he grows up,” grandfather James Rodriguez told me via email. When Musser asked why, Julian said, “So I can tell people what to do!”
Perhaps the bank at Central Avenue and Moreno Street in Montclair isn’t truly a good example for my Mod! category of midcentury modern architecture, as the building, originally an American Savings, was built in 1973. Then again, as names go, Mod! is somewhat elastic, and the bank, across from Montclair Plaza and near the 10, always catches my eye.
I’d never heard of American Savings, and I can’t find any information about it online, but I’m told that like Home Savings Bank, American had a distinctive design that is still immediately recognizable. Like a giant concrete mushroom, the building appears to rise from the earth fully formed, including a cap that hangs over on all four sides.
A few months after the Upland Earthquake of March 1, 1990, damaged travertine panels on the exterior were removed, according to the city’s planning department.
American was converted to Washington Mutual in 1998 and to Chase Bank in 2009.
I drove by one night last week and, stopped at a light, was struck by the floor to ceiling windows, which blend in with the building during daylight hours.
Have you seen the building? Did you or do you bank there?
A candidate forum had a shortage of candidates Wednesday for the Chino Valley Unified School District board, with only three of seven showing up. Well, I showed up, and I write about it in Sunday’s column.
Friday’s column constitutes a report from Tuesday’s brief but mildly entertaining Ontario council meeting, along with some other news items from around the city, plus a Valley Vignette from Pomona.
Sam’s Unique Diner, 4721 Chino Hills Parkway (at Monte Vista), Chino Hills
Don’t let the name fool you: Sam’s Unique Diner is not a hash house with a waitress named Flo but rather a Chinese restaurant, and a stylish one. It opened in the Commons shopping center a few weeks ago.
The entry looks like a hotel and the dining room has a chandelier.
I was there for a group lunch recently and ordered off the lunch menu, not dissimilar from that of many Chinese restaurants. I got the most exotic sounding item, twice cooked pork ($8, below), and liked it. But the restaurant, I could tell, was better than the orange chicken, kung pao chicken and other standbys on the lunch menu.
So I returned for a weekend lunch with a friend. We had westlake beef soup ($11, not pictured); yam with blueberries ($10, below); beef with cumin ($14, second photo below); and fish filet with vegetables ($11, third photo below).
The yam item was the only one we thought was just okay. The white yams had a taste like jicama. Pleasant, but dull.
I love cumin dishes and beef with cumin did not disappoint. The soup was good as well and we liked the light, moist tilapia in the fish filet.
The expansive restaurant has private dining rooms and a covered patio for groups. It’s said to have Sichuan, Cantonese and Shanghai-style cuisine. Chino Hills has a number of authentic Chinese restaurants and Sam’s is among the best, and in what may be the most spectacular restaurant setting in the city.
The website for Burgerim, a new hamburger emporium in Montclair, lists the driving distance from various local cities, including Narod. Narod? That’s a vanished community around Mission and Central, essentially the land between Montclair and Chino. Google lists Narod — I scrolled down the map to show it before doing the screen shot — as well as some other long-gone communities like Rochester and Grapeland. Click on the photo for a larger view.
Anyway, I find it hilarious that Narod is listed on the Burgerim site, at least for now, alongside Ontario, Pomona and more. It’s six minutes away from the restaurant, by the way.
Speaking of Burgerim, if you’re reading this Sept. 21, the place is giving away free food today in its grand opening, from 11 a.m. until they run out, at 9359 Central Ave.