The Souplantation in Rancho Cucamonga was a favorite spot when I moved here, and I still go now and then. I ate lunch there last week after news of the chain’s bankruptcy, which is supposed to spare the Southern California locations, and write about it to kick off Sunday’s column. After that: four items from Victoria Gardens, three from a Chino council meeting and a Valley Vignette.
Friday’s column starts with news of development underway at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Spruce Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, where a series of Chinese buffets operated for nearly two decades. Also: three more RC items, five Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
In a follow-up to my column last week on the Red Chief Motel in Rancho Cucamonga, Wednesday’s column is about Michelle Lindley, a woman who grew up at the motel when her grandparents ran it. She talks about its latter days in the 1970s and about the recently unearthed mural from the motel’s cafe, which she remembers well.
Above, Lindley says the doorway to the kitchen separated these two unmatching portions of the mural. Below are two fobs from room keys at the motel, which had been renamed the Sycamore.
Two photos of the Red Chief Motel (1936-1977) dining room have turned up courtesy of Darin Kuna, the history buff and photo collector behind several local Facebook pages. The one above is dated 1939. The one below is from a 1951 Claremont Colleges yearbook ad, obviously after the mural was installed in 1950. Finally, a chance to see a portion of the mural in its natural state! Thanks, Mr. Kuna.
Sunday’s column pays a short tribute to the late Arnold Palmer by drawing attention to his role as designer of the Empire Lakes Golf Course in Rancho Cucamonga, the one that closed in May. After that: Culture Corner and other items.
Friday’s column is about a new restaurant in an old location that has seen tenants come and go. Mustang Sally’s hopes to capitalize on its Route 66 location near the Pacific Electric bridge and its patio overlooking the street.
Murals from the old Red Chief Motel’s restaurant have been pulled from storage and put on view at Upland’s Cooper Museum. My column Wednesday is about the murals and the motel, with some details provided from the 1940s by an eyewitness.
The Red Chief was in business on Route 66 in Cucamonga, pre-Rancho, from 1936 to 1977, although from 1962 on, it was the Sycamore Motel, reflecting its neighbor, the Sycamore Inn, according to phone directory listings. The office/restaurant building still exists, if heavily remodeled, as Gao Sushi.
The photo above comes from the Model Colony History Room of the Ontario City Library. The view above is looking east on Foothill. The photo below, courtesy of the Gentleman Racer blog, shows the building last year, before the Notice of Filing sign for development went up.
Now compare these two photos — above, from Marilyn Anderson’s Hometown Spirit newsletter; below, from Michelle Lindley — taken from the same vantage point but some time apart and with crucial differences.
The Red Chief sign has moved off the roof and to the roadway, with the cafe sign incorporated beneath; also, the motto “Excellent Food” has been added to the building. That’s all I noticed, except to observe that the photo below was taken on a hazy or smoggy day, as the mountains have disappeared.
The postcard below comes from the Model Colony History Room — “for those who care.”
The remaining images come courtesy of Jane Vath O’Connell. Lindley has a photo of the ashtray too, and as her grandparents owned the motel in its latter years, I’ll accept it as genuine even though it seems generic.
Do you have any memories of the motel? Post a comment for posterity’s sake, please.
Rancho Cucamonga’s Terra Vista 6 may be the Inland Valley’s forgotten movie theater. It’s not owned by any of the majors and is tucked away off Town Center Drive behind the Terra Vista Town Center shopping center.
Sometimes it comes to mind, especially if I’m on Haven Avenue and see the small monument sign with that week’s titles, and think, I ought to go there sometime.
Weeks ago, I did, catching “Captain America: Civil War” back in May. (I couldn’t decide whether to write a column item or blog post and ended up doing neither, until now.) That evening, a Tuesday, I pulled up to the spacious, near-empty lot and walked around to the ticket window, which faces a courtyard near the food court.
Had I ever been to the Terra Vista 6? Not that I could recall. I rectified that by buying a ticket, at $8.50 a bargain these days. The ticket taker cheerfully checked my ticket and said, “This will be a good one.” Non-robotic service? It’s appreciated.
The mulitplex opened in 1991 — “The Doors” was among the first films that played — and was an Edwards originally; if you didn’t know that, the restrooms on the mezzanine level, an Edwards hallmark, would tip you off.
The theater has a 1980s, padded-wall look, like stepping back in time to a hokier era of cinema. The seats have been replaced, though, with semi-recliners. Basically, they tip back whether you want them to or not. It was not entirely comfortable, but it was okay, and the movie was good enough that I didn’t care.
Terra Vista 6 is owned by Tristone, which has five other theaters: Brea, Jurupa Valley, Palm Desert, Simi Valley and Temecula. Enjoy the Rancho Cucamonga one while it’s still around, flying under the valley’s radar.
When taking photos recently of the property around Rancho Cucamonga’s Sycamore Inn for which development is proposed, I paid a visit to the Bear Gulch monument and historical marker, on the western edge of the restaurant property.
The monument was erected in 1932 to mark a resting point of the 18th century. The two overland expeditions by Juan Bautista de Anza from Mexico to Northern California stopped there. Bear Gulch is the local name for the area where, evidently, bears had been spotted on numerous occasions in olden days.
You can check out the plaque below. It’s listed online in the Historical Marker Database.
My colleague Joe Blackstock explored the marker in a column in 2014. He wondered why the marker cites the minor Father Pedro Font when he was accompanying the better-known de Anza, and why the marker says 1779 when the expedition was actually in 1776 — and de Anza had previously been there in 1774.
More whimsically, reader Will Plunkett says he refers to the statue as the Monkey Bear because the bear’s face has a simian aspect.
Check it out sometime when you’re driving past on Foothill Boulevard or eating at the Sycamore, and maybe give a little growl.