I wrote in 2018 about the twin losses at Maniac Mike’s Cafe in Upland: First co-owner Mike Stewart died, then the restaurant burned four days later and had to close indefinitely. It’s now back with Stewart’s wife and daughter in charge, many of the same employees and menu, in an updated space with a larger patio. That’s the subject of my Wednesday column.
When I saw the Upland City Council was going to consider getting an armored rescue vehicle, I knew I had to be there. I write about the seeming dichotomy in Wednesday’s column.
The former Sizzler/Sizzlin restaurant on Upland’s Foothill Boulevard might come down in favor of a Starbucks. The Sizzlin knockoff of the previous Sizzler comes in for some ribbing (or Malibu chicken-ing). Also, downtown Ontario is getting a Starbucks too, and that city may also get a giant warehouse for a major apparel manufacturer. All the (business) news that’s fit to print is in my Friday column.
For my post-Thanksgiving column, I gather up reader comments going back to March (!), starting with an anecdote from a woman who happened to meet a famous writer and continuing with Salinas, roadside motels, La Verne and Cal Poly Pomona. All that’s in Friday’s column.
Downtown Upland’s Rad Coffee is open 18 hours a day, a rather astonishing schedule, especially for a shop in a mid-block location in a slightly dull (but perking up) downtown. I write about the 4-year-old shop’s unlikely but undeniable success in Wednesday’s column. And check out the photos by Jennifer Cappucio Maher and Watchara Phomicinda!
Back in April 2018, I was driving on 16th Street in Upland west of Mountain Avenue and saw an old building surrounded by chain-link fence and a wall. Curious, I pulled over for photos. It’s on a small plot of land by the entrance to the Carmel Circle East condos.
My thought was that the low-slung building was a chicken coop that had been granted protected status, odd as that concept seemed. I figured I would ask someone, although I didn’t know whom. So there it languished.
The photo was still on my phone’s camera roll when I noticed it recently. And the mystery occurred to me shortly after in a timely way: I was about to meet up with my friend John Atwater, a retired Upland senior planner who worked in the Planning Department from 1984 to 2009. Surely he would know.
I showed him the photos. He thought a bit. It’s not a chicken coop.
“It’s a leftover water utility building,” Atwater said. He couldn’t remember which small water agency had relinquished the property. It have have been in the 1980s or ’90s.
The land was sold privately and has probably changed hands several times, given that Atwater recalled several would-be developers dropping into City Hall to inquire about putting a fast-food restaurant or other business on it.
He had to tell them that the property, which they may never have even visited in person, was far too small for a business since the parking requirement would eat up the entirety of their land.
“It’s the footprint of a cell tower,” Atwater told me.
Until a cell tower or some other very vertical use comes along, it’s an abandoned water utility building. Perhaps one day, the chickens will come home to roost, but they won’t be doing it there.
A contingent from Mildura, Australia visited Upland, its sister city, earlier this month. What’s the connection? Both cities were founded by the same man: George Chaffey. It’s a unique relationship among sister cities. I write about the visit in Sunday’s column.
A proposed warehouse south of Upland’s Cable Airport would have as tenant an “e-commerce delivery” business so big it’s in the corporate “Fortune 10,” it was said at a workshop Monday evening. Gee, who could that be? I attend and write about the proposal in Wednesday’s column.
With dismissal of the city attorney on the City Council agenda, I visited the Upland council chambers Monday night. I chat with the doomed attorney (and take his photo), observe the proceedings and crack a few jokes in Wednesday’s column.
An artist with chainsaws has been carving a sculpture of a firefighter out of a dead tree trunk in San Antonio Heights outside the fire station, under the eyes of joggers, cyclists and motorists. I talk to Eric Garcia for Friday’s column.