Column: Let’s tour Frank Zappa sites in downtown Ontario

Did you know struggling musician Frank Zappa lived in downtown Ontario in the early 1960s? He lived at three different addresses over a four-year period. I write about that in Sunday’s column, along with two other Zappa items: release of a coloring book devoted to him and an upcoming concert in Montclair by one of his sons, Dweezil.

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Column: Smoothie shop to close after 23 years of blending in

Podge’s Claremont Juice Co. in the Village is closing Saturday. Thinking it’d be nice to get an item into my column prior to that, I dropped in to inquire and found not only the owner but the previous owner as well. Also, a Pomona man will be on “Wheel of Fortune” Friday and the Pomona Christmas parade is Saturday. All this is in Friday’s up-to-the-minuteĀ column.

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Restaurant of the Week: Raising Cane’s, Upland

Raising Cane’s, 183 E. Foothill Blvd. (at 2nd), Upland; open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and until 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Founded in 1996 and based in New Orleans, Raising Cane’s is a rapidly expanding quick-service chain of chicken finger restaurants. Ontario has two and Fontana, San Bernardino and Upland have one each. Upland’s opened back in January and, after months of meaning to go and forgetting, I went there on my lunch break recently.

When I got there after 1 p.m., there was a line out the door (thankfully it wasn’t raining), and a majority of the seating was taken. However, the first register is angled toward the entry, close enough to the door that it takes only five or six people to make a line out the door. Very canny.

The menu is of course flat against the wall and begins a little beyond the first register. You can’t really see it in its entirety unless you’re ordering from the second register.

(I’m a little put off by their chirpy “One Love” motto, seen above. Bob Marley’s shade must be shaking his dreadlocked head at his song being used by a corporation. On the other hand, maybe the expression of unity and inclusion is a subtle jab at the Chick-fil-A founder’s retrograde social views, in which case, carry on.)

I got the three-finger combo with fries, toast and drink ($7.42). A four-finger combo that also had slaw was a little under a buck more, but I didn’t see it on the distant menu board until picking up my order directly under it. Oh well.

The chicken was fine, perhaps more heavily battered than is strictly necessary. The skinny crinkle-cut fries were crisp. It was a decent cheap meal.

The music was cranked up too loud for comfort for my tastes. Employees were hustling. It’s a high-energy place. As when Lou Grant told Mary Richards that she had spunk, and he hates spunk, I’m not really a fan of high-energy places. There’s an expansive patio outside that was quieter, but also colder. That would be my preferred seating on a warm day.

As must be obvious, after all the hype about Cane’s, the experience was a slight letdown. Expectations adjusted, perhaps a second visit will be more to my liking. Food-wise and ambience-wise, I’d prefer to eat at Chick-fil-A. Although Cane’s is better on Sunday (rim shot).

One neat local touch on the wall inside the entry: a framed 1978 issue of Skateboard World magazine. The cover promotes not only a feature on the Cal Jam II concert in Ontario, but one on the “Upland finale” of a skating event, presumably at the old Pipeline skate park.

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Column: Some ‘tastee’ campus trivia on ULV tour

I took a modest walking tour of University of La Verne to hear about buildings that have been knocked down or repurposed over the decades, among them a former Tastee Freez and an Alpha Beta. That kicks off Wednesday’s column, followed by items about the TV mob scene at a Claremont Nativity display, upcoming Christmas concerts in Pomona and Ontario, and an Ontario man who’s on ABC’s “Great American Baking Show.”

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