Column: Montclair Plaza’s birds now roosting at City Hall

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Remember the bird sculptures from Montclair Plaza’s JC Penney atrium? You might if you lived here prior to the mid-1980s, when they were removed. Now they’re back, only this time they’re at City Hall, inside and out. Read all about it in my Friday column.

Above, an undated photo from the book “Images of Montclair.” Below, a view of the west lobby of City Hall, showing five of the 12 birds that are back on display.

A city employee talks about the restoration in a short video. There’s also a hyperlink in the column for (heh heh) a scene from “The Birds.”

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Don Jose marks 40 years

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The one in Montclair opened in 1979, but Southern California’s Don Jose Mexican Restaurant chain (its website is here) is marking its 40th anniversary, its Orange location having opened in 1972.

I’ve only eaten there once or twice, but I enjoyed the experience. It was the first time I ever ordered fajitas.

Montclair reader Anna Hernandez alerted me after the fact to the anniversary, which featured a one-day rollback in price one recent weekend.

“I enjoyed dinner for $2, plus margaritas! As did many, probably hundreds, more,” Hernandez, a regular, told me by email. She lauded the professional staff, tasty food, fun atmosphere and an operation that ran smoothly despite the crush of customers.

She said apologetically: “If you missed it, sorry I didn’t alert you sooner.”

That’s OK, Anna. I probably wouldn’t have wanted a delicious meal from a friendly staff for $2 anyway.

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A courthouse memento

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There’s a long wooden bench for customer seating at Toyotech, an auto repair business in Montclair. Where did it come from? From the old courthouse that used to stand at Sixth Street and Mountain Avenue in Ontario, now the site of a shopping center.

Toyotech owner Rick Kaplan used to be a deputy in the sheriff’s substation at the courthouse, which closed in the late 1980s. The hard wooden benches were used as seating in courtrooms. The bench, salvaged prior to its demolition, showed up at Toyotech before Kaplan bought the business in 2004, but he recognized it.

“Everyone thinks it’s a pew from a church,” Kaplan said with a chuckle. “That couldn’t be further from the truth!”

The full-length cushion is a recent addition, a gift from a customer — and much appreciated.

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Wiggle room

After a photo appeared with my column of the platter of fried worms I had in Mexico City…

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…I took my car to my mechanic in Montclair for an oil change. He and his wife welcomed me back from Mexico with a surprise: a bowl of worms. Of the Gummi variety, on a bed of crushed Oreos. I have the weirdest — but nicest — readers.

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From bytes to bites

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In Montclair, the CompUSA building at 9059 Central Ave. at Moreno Street, vacant since 2007, is preparing for a new, non-retail tenant: a very large Asian-themed restaurant. Paradise Buffet will occupy 14,000 square feet and seat 300, according to City Hall.

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Mounted up in Montclair

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At 7 p.m. Wednesday, heading south on Central Avenue and stopped at the light at Mission Boulevard, I was startled to see two cowpokes also waiting for the light to change. Once across the intersection, I pulled into the gas station and grabbed these two shots.

The pair kept going past a natural stop, Farmer Boys burgers, which even has a drive-thru. One horseman was on a cell phone. Does the no-phone-while-driving law apply if you’re on horseback?

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Traffic advisory continues in Montclair

Central Avenue above the 10 Freeway is now nice and smooth, as is Monte Vista Avenue, after recent repaving that narrowed lanes and choked traffic.

However, the lanes are not yet striped, only marked with those Post-It note-like temporary markers. Painting the lanes, whenever that occurs, could mean more inconvenience for motorists.

Thus, your cautious correspondent declines to lift his advisory to avoid Montclair. If you happen to live in Montclair, my advice is to stay below the 10. Repeat, stay below the 10. Thank you.

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