Top Hat, repainted

Top Hat Liquor, a long-lived Pomona shop with a jaunty roofline and cosmopolitan name, got a new paint job in April, as seen in the photo above.

To explain in brief why this is news, I had taken a photo of the business last October when passing by (on my way to follow candidate Tim Sandoval as he canvassed a neighborhood — I wonder what ever happened to him?), then forgot about it until finding the photo in July and turning it into a quick tribute post on this blog. That’s the photo below.

People got worked up on Facebook over the peeling paint, vowing to organize a clean-up and painting day after a plan to contact the owner. Well-intentioned, but it went about as far as most such online efforts, which are easier to type than to carry out.

But then City Hall contacted me with the photo above. “You’ve given readers the ‘before’ photo. Here’s the ‘after’ photo,” writes Mark Lazzaretto, development services director.

The code compliance team noticed the condition of the business in early April and by the 18th, the trim had been repainted and some of the banners and signs had been taken down for a cleaner appearance, he told me.

That’s good news, as well as being a lesson for me about taking care when presenting photos a few months after the fact. Even situations that have not changed in years sometimes change when you least expect it.

A tip of the top hat to City Hall. The next round is on us.

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Coates sheds its name

Coates Cyclery closed in February, an end to a shop that began in downtown Pomona in 1934 and moved to 760 Foothill Blvd., just west of Towne Avenue, in 1965. There was talk that a bike shop would take over the storefront, but that was not to be. A pet hotel has moved in and altered the sign, formerly neon, while retaining its basic structure.

Reader Dwight Seibert was there to take photos for posterity, as seen above and below.

Was the old one a landmark sign? It’s in Charles Phoenix’s “Cruising the Pomona Valley” guidebook, which called it “one of the last classic neon signs on Foothill Boulevard.”

But the Museum of Neon Art’s executive director, Kim Koga, told me on my recent visit that she didn’t find the sign visually interesting enough for the museum. Context is everything.

Below is a closer view posted by Grace Verhoeven on the Eye on Pomona Facebook page.

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Restaurant of the Week: Big D’s Burgers

Big D’s Burgers, 135 E. 2nd St. (at Garey), Pomona; open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For a brief spell the three main restaurants in a two-block stretch of 2nd Street were hamburger parlors, which was kind of a drag. Big D’s, which has a location in Whittier, was the latest, joining Burger House and the Rookery. But Burger House has closed, leaving a more manageable two burger specialists.

I hadn’t been to Big D’s due to the overkill factor, and because I like the Rookery, but with the path clearer, two friends and I gave it a shot recently at lunchtime.

It’s the first business on the east side of Garey and in recent years has cycled through a crab restaurant, a sushi restaurant and two pizza restaurants. As before, it’s got exposed brick walls, a high ceiling and a deep layout, with patio seating at the sidewalk.

In recent years it’s been a party spot rather than a serious restaurant, catering to the club and concert crowd, and nothing wrong with that. I’m always up for a good burger.

I got the shroom burger ($11) with Swiss and fries ($2), someone else got the patty melt ($11), which comes on parmesan sourdough, and the third got a chicken caesar salad ($9). None of us were blown away, but our food was fine, and the server was nice. My expectations were low, and they were exceeded.

Besides 10 burgers, the menu has four salads, fish and chips, a couple of sandwiches and a hot dog. Oh, and unless my eyes deceived me, you can get a $12 milkshake. Has anyone had one? At that price, I hope it’s sharing size.

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Top Hat Liquor, Pomona

This liquor store in Pomona (565 Dudley Ave.) could really use a paint job, but the angled roofline, high-society name and neon sign still have flair. As Charles Phoenix describes it in “Cruising the Pomona Valley: 1930 Thru 1970”: “This stylish modern liquor store is dressed in formal attire with its original neon sign.” The store was built in 1959.

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No longer Eating Garey Avenue, now he’s Dining in Pomona

I devoted a column in February to reader and blogger John Clifford’s quest to eat at every Garey Avenue food establishment, just as he neared the finish line. Having now wrapped up his Eating Garey Avenue blog, Clifford now launches Dining in Pomona, a new blog of reviews.

For Eating Garey, he ate at every restaurant, or near-restaurant, on that street in sequence, south to north, with one review each week. For Dining in Pomona, he promises to eat wherever he likes on whatever schedule he likes. Ah, freedom. His first post is about Cachanilla. I’ve added a hyperlink to Dining Garey to the blogroll at right.

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Remembering Pomona’s muscle car scene

Photo of ’69 Chevelle Gasser courtesy of Super Chevy

“Growing up in the Pomona Valley during the early to mid-’70s meant being around the baddest muscle cars and hot rods in So Cal,” Nick Licata writes in an article for Super Chevy, a magazine for Chevrolet fanatics.

Licata continues: “On just about every block it was common to see an open garage door on a warm summer night with a few young gearheads listening to Led Zeppelin while wrenching away on a hot rod of some sort.”

Early teens like Licata would ride their Schwinn Sting-Rays on Saturday nights to a vacant lot behind a Garey Avenue Taco Bell, where more than 50 muscle cars would be shown off by their owners. They would be treated as local celebrities by the kids.

Reader Ed Tessier, who sent me the story, says he found its take spot-on. He adds that in south Pomona in that era, “low rider culture was a bigger deal on many blocks and the radios were pumping out Mexican pop.” Not everyone was into Zeppelin.

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