The old Islands restaurant in Montclair is finally demolished, a mere 13 years after it closed. Panera is coming. It took six years to pull off. Also, more news from around Montclair, like why the splash pad is closed for repairs. (Blame the supply chain.) Friday’s column is a rare all-Montclair effort.
What’s going to take the place of the drive-in theater in Montclair? Two warehouses and six industrial/office buildings. The City Council action slipped by us a few days before Christmas, but I belatedly have the details in my Friday column.
Sunday was the last night for Montclair’s Mission Tiki Drive-In. The theater’s long run, extended by COVID as development plans were delayed, came to an end without fanfare. I write about the drive-in and its history in my Wednesday column.
I get a sneak peek of Rhino Records’ new location in Montclair, to which the store is moving after 48 years in Claremont. It’s got a very different, more modern feel, but a lot of familiar faces, and it’s larger. I write about the move in my Sunday column.
A ghost bike was placed in Montclair on Saturday morning for the former Upland councilman, Tom Thomas, who was struck and killed on Monte Vista Avenue while cycling. I was there to watch and pay my respects. It’s the subject of my timely Sunday column.
Mary Hill-Wagner of Montclair has published a memoir titled “Girlz ‘n the Hood,” which is about her childhood in South L.A. among 10 siblings and the mother who fiercely supported them. It’s kind of wild, sometimes sad, sometimes raucously funny. I read her book and then we had a good conversation about it and her mother for my Wednesday column.
As you may have gleaned from stray references in a few columns, I’ve gotten into climbing stairs daily, which isn’t easy to do when you live in a single-story home. This means I’m always on the lookout for stairs. At Montclair Place mall recently, I was leaving Barnes & Noble by its parking lot entrance when I spotted this impressive new set of stairs a few paces east leading to the upper-level AMC theaters — and gasped.
I went up and down five times. How many steps? I counted. Something like 42. Each trip up counted as two flights on my fitness app. This has to be the best semi-public staircase in Montclair, if not in many of our cities.
Only one other person, who looked like an AMC employee, took them while I was there. Everyone else lazily used the escalator.
A reader said I should write about the demise of the Inland Empire’s two Nordstrom stores, which closed in May (but were essentially already closed) without fanfare. That was a good idea, and I took her up on it for Wednesday’s column. It didn’t hurt, naturally, that the column might appeal to readers across a geographic span.
Montclair’s humble drive-in, the Mission Tiki, appears to be the only theater operating in all of Southern California. I take in a screening of “Knives Out” and talk to patrons for Sunday’s column.
Reader Harry Wright emails about a favorite topic here on the blog, the long-gone Midway Bar in Montclair, just past Claremont on Foothill Boulevard:
“The Midway was a flourishing establishment when I arrived at the Claremont Colleges in the fall of 1967. An extremely liberal attitude regarding proper identification ensured a regular clientele of baby-faced collegians. Both the Midway and the nearby eatery Stinkys were convenient to the colleges and for bikers speeding up and down Foothill between Pomona and San Bernardino. A belly full of greasy burgers from Stinkys then the Thursday night special — 50-cent pitchers at the Midway — was a stellar evening for the economy minded.
“There was an uneasy truce between the school boys and bikers that at times boiled over, resulting in fists flying, but never weapons, at least that I witnessed. Law enforcement visits were infrequent, but spurred a mad dash of college kids out the back or standing on the seat in a toilet stall, while an older patron also in the stall could exit if summoned by the cop to present proper ID.”
The world is always in need of stellar evenings for the economy minded. Thanks for the note, Mr. Wright.