At Roberta’s, you’re in with the Inn crowd

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Francisco Ramirez and Roberta Virgin at the counter of Roberta’s Village Inn, 2326 D St., La Verne. Ramirez, the chef, bought the downtown coffee shop from Virgin at the beginning of 2010. A year later, business continues to do well and customers say the transition has been seamless. Read about the popular restaurant in my Wednesday column — and feel free to add your comments below.

If you click on the “Continue reading” link below, you can find an informal history of the building, with some color about the Village Inn, sent to me by two members of the La Verne Historical Society.
Continue reading

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Growing up with Mrs. Nelson’s

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Friday’s column pays tribute to a La Verne institution, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop, which has been at 1030 Bonita Ave. (at Damien Avenue) since 1991, and in existence since 1985 (the first location was in Covina).

Pictured are the now-retired Judy Nelson, left, and manager Andrea Vuleta.

You can visit the store’s website here and read my column here.

I was allowed to see the employee restroom, whose inner door has been decorated with doodles by visiting authors and illustrators. A portion of the door is pictured below. Click on the image for a larger view.

Do you have comments about or memories of the store? If so, post away.

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Panera Bread opens in La Verne today

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A new Panera Bread location opens in La Verne this morning in the old Michael J’s location. (Here’s a photo after the demolition.)

Address: 2315 Foothill Blvd. (at Fruit Street), across from the giant McDonald’s. Regular hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Menu: Soups, salads, sandwiches, coffee, artisanal bread and free WiFi.

Other area locations are Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills and West Covina.

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Here’s a scoop

As mentioned in print the other day, I’ll be among the scoopers at an ice cream sundae fundraiser in La Verne today to benefit Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society. Come buy a sundae for a good cause. We’ll be at Roberta’s Village Inn,
2326 D St., from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Here are the shifts:

5:30 pm — Dan & Annette Harden, Brian McNerney, Fire Chief John Breaux, me

6:30 pm — Mayor Don Kendrick, Mayor ProTem Donna Redman Nasmyth, Police Chief Scott Pickwith, Captain Darryl Seube

7:30 pm — Former Mayor Jon Blickenstaff, Council Member Robin Carder, Planning Commision Chair Cid Pinedo

Tonight is a Farmers Market night downtown so parking will be more of a chore. Organizers recommend parking behind the Fire Station or at Church of the Brethren.

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La Verne’s online newspaper

La Verne Online is the name, and it’s run by 25-year resident Peter Bennett, a former LA Times staffer and PR guy. I’ve read a few articles there and it’s pretty well done, with coverage of Monday’s council meeting and long features on such folks as private eye Becky Altringer, Gumby licensee Nick Croce and Taste of Asia chef Virada Khowang. (One flaw: No dates on any of the stories.) Best of luck to them.

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The Grinch that stole into La Verne

The Grinch read to children and adults last week at the University of La Verne Literacy Center as part of a three-day book fair. Or, as a university press release describes the day in verse:

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On a wintry day in the late afternoon

A host of young tykes gathered up in a room.

Their parents were there, joining in on the fun

All watching and waiting for the one yet to come.

They sat and they hoped barely moving an inch

Looking up and around for to glimpse Mister Grinch.

And when he arrived, they clapped and they smiled

As he read and he spoke to each eager young child.

At the end, all were happy, both the young and the old

Having sipped the hot cocoa, meant to battle the cold

The book fair raised funds to help tutor and mentor

Local kids who rely on the Literacy Center.

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La Verne connection to the Quaid case

The Bulletin’s celebrity news section on Page A2 has twice featured the arrest of Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, this past week. Well, there’s a local angle: Last summer the Quaids hired Becky Altringer, the La Verne private eye featured in a recent column of mine due to her role in the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated.” The Quaids even stayed in a La Verne mobile home (!) for a short period. The mind reels.

Altringer later dropped them as clients and is seeking a restraining order against Evi Quaid. You can read a fairly extensive piece from the Daily Beast here that quotes Altringer, if you’re inclined.

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Hanawalt House back in La Verne

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Hanawalt House, pre-renovation

La Verne’s Hanawalt House has been restored and was unveiled to the public on Wednesday. I couldn’t make it out to the wilds of La Verne for the 3 p.m. ceremony, but here’s some history courtesy of the University of La Verne, which owns the building.

The house, at 2058 2nd St., was built in 1908 for W.C. Hanawalt, the fifth president of what was then Lordsburg College. The house features Queen Anne and Eastlake architectural attributes and its foundation was made of concrete blocks — a rarity for private residences in those days, apparently — by Hanawalt’s half-brothers.

(They later assisted in building La Verne’s iconic Church of the Brethren.)

In 1973, Hanawalt’s second wife, Pearl, sold the house, which is on the campus grounds, to the university, which used it as offices. A 2004 fire caused major damage — oh no! — but an extensive renovation put it back into service, retaining its historic character while allowing modern uses.

The downstairs now features two meeting facilities — the Palmera and Lordsburg rooms — and a smaller receiving salon, Pearl’s Parlor. The upstairs is home to the university’s Alumni Relations and Special Events offices. The surrounding grounds have also been replanted and upgraded.

Participants in Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting were to include University of La Verne President Steve Morgan, Mayor Don Kendrick, Historical Society President Galen Beery and Hanawalt family representative J. Clair Hanawalt.

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