Chino Theater


Photo: Neil Nisperos

If you’ve ever been through Chino (and if not, why not?), you’re sure to have seen one of the city’s most striking buildings, the one-time movie theater on Central Avenue near Riverside Drive.

A tower has the word “Chino” in vertical letters, and according to a story by my colleague Neil Nisperos (he of the accompanying photo), the red neon, long gone, will soon be replaced at city expense.

Using redevelopment funds, the city will pay $15,000 for that work as well as $1,200 a year for electricity and upkeep for 20 years, plus $600 per year to the property owner.

The idea is that the sign will restore some beauty and interest to Chino’s main drag. Well, it can’t hurt.

The movie theater opened in 1947, around the same era as Upland’s Grove, which has a similar scale and look. By the early 1960s, the theater had become a bowling alley, and since 1992 it’s been the T-Shirt Mart.

That’s like a capsule history of the American economy!

I’d like to know more. Anyone want to share their memories of this building?

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Secret menu in Chino

New Orleans was, as you’d expect, awesome. Also, still devastated from Katrina and Rita. I’ll write about both aspects in a column or two in the coming days. I’ll probably blog here about the food.

In the meantime, comments left last week have been posted. Let me direct your attention in particular to a belated comment for the Cock-a-Doodle calendars post left by an unnamed server there. He offers some informative comments on the venerable Chino restaurant, including a report on its “secret menu.” Shades of In-N-Out!

No, you can’t get the biscuits and gravy Monster Style, but the inside tips about the strawberry shortcake and other items is well worth a read, as well as his fond remarks about Albert the cook and Dotty the waitress.

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Cock-a-Doodle calendars

When I visited Chino’s delightful Cock-a-Doodle for lunch last year before writing about the restaurant’s 50th anniversary, I marveled at the vintage calendars papering the walls in the hallway outside the restrooms. They’re obviously not original to the ‘Doodle since most predate its existence.

Here’s a note from reader Toni Bagley about the calendars:

“At the Cock-a-Doodle Restaurant on Central Ave. in Chino, there are a ton of calendars on the wall. We are all so curious about them! They are small (maybe 7″x9″) annual calendars starting in 1926 going through 1961. A few years are missing, but not many. They were provided by a business called Soper Bros. It appears that Soper Bros. sold most anything farm or house related.

“The calendars are covered with pencil notations. Most curious are certain ‘holidays’ or ‘events’ that no one understands. One is ‘Ember Day,’ and another is ‘Rogation Day.’ What do these things mean?

“I’ve lived here 30+ years, but haven’t run across anyone who can explain the history of the calendars. They’re a real ‘show-stopper’ as you are waiting to get into the Ladies Room! Well, they don’t ‘stop’ anything (!), but they are an attraction.

“Thanks for delving into this, David. Also, while you’re there, delve into the biscuits and gravy!”

Anyone know the story behind the calendars being there (I’m guessing they were donated), the history of Soper Bros. or what Rogation Day or Ember Day would refer to?

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Chino in Chino

On my way back from an interview Wednesday afternoon in Chino, I stopped in at Comic Madness, a comic shop in that burg, for my weekly fix. Music was playing as I browsed but I wasn’t paying attention.

Suddenly a lyric jumped out at me: “Got a wife in Chino, babe, and one in Cherokee/First one says she’s got my child, but it don’t look like me.”

Of course it was “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead, a song I’m well acquainted with. First time I’d ever heard the Chino line while in Chino city limits, though.

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