Home Kitchen at 309 E. Foothill in Pomona closed recently. I’d never been there but passed by frequently over the years. Then in January I noticed all the letters were gone from the face of the building. Yep, it’s closed.
“No lease,” explains a message on a whiteboard that directs diners to Ho’s Silver Spoon at 150 S. Grand Ave. in Glendora, which is owned by the same people.
Click on the thumbnail photo at right for a larger view of the message and full directions. What a public-spirited fellow I am. Ho’s gets decent reviews on Yelp.
Some of you may recall that circa 2000, the Pomona building had a Winchell’s on the other end where you could watch them make the donuts. It was an experiment and didn’t last long. Home Kitchen was in the other half of the building probably since the beginning. Nothing ever replaced Winchell’s. Now the entire building is vacant.
Incidentally, in the small patio area when I visited a week ago, the H from the Home Kitchen sign was lying face-down on a table, as if someone couldn’t be bothered to haul away the last letter.
* Update: While some readers below refer to Brannigan’s, the actual name, I’m told, was Baxter’s. My source says: “It was a Baxter’s in the early ’80s, then a Reubens in the late ’80s and then that half of the building closed, maybe around ’92. The Coco’s closed in ’93, I think. I could be off by a year or two in either direction.”
The former Taco Kitchen is now Simpsons Floor Covering, 2911 Bonita Ave., La Verne.
Reader Bill Lukens, now residing in Marin County, writes:
“Reading about Henry’s reminded me of the great Taco Kitchen located in the middle of an orange grove in an old pump house at the end of Bonita Avenue in La Verne. In those days Bonita did not go through to Claremont, it stopped on the edge of the orange grove just out of the east side of town. You took a small one-lane road into the middle of the grove to find the restaurant.
“On hindsight the food was not just good, it was outstanding. The owners, Elsie and Marshall Moss, presided over every meal. One of them was always there.
“Local people waited the tables and each plate had to pass under the eyes of Elsie or Marshall before it hit your table. The enchiladas were to die for coming piping hot, right from the oven, with the cheese still bubbling. And the tacos and beef tostadas were the best I have tasted even to today.
“The restaurant was always full. Right up to the last time I went there in 1970, it was good to the last plate. I often have thought of starting a Taco Kitchen in Tiburon where I now live and replicating the great recipes accumulated by Elsie and Marshall from their trips to Mexico.
“The funny thing was that it was located in La Verne, whose population was American mainstream. But oh how they loved the Taco Kitchen — La Verne’s little surprise.”
What a nice reminiscence. Thanks, Bill. Here’s some additional information: Taco Kitchen’s address was Fourth Street at Fulton Road (phone number LYcoming 4-2453). The building dates to 1944 and today, heavily remodeled, it’s home to Simpsons Floor Covering and an insurance office. No enchiladas or orange groves in sight.
Here’s an interesting piece from the NHRA about the history of a La Verne restaurant institution near the site of the Winternationals. Did you know El Merendero used to be a burger stand known as Elly’s? I didn’t. Thanks to reader JMac for the link.
Reader Larry Mendoza, who works at Richard Hibbard Chevrolet in Claremont, keeps a Henry’s menu in his office. The date on the menu is 1966 and the prices should either bring back memories or arouse envy.
The most expensive meal is $1.70, a burger is 70 cents, fries are 30 cents (40 cents with gravy) and Cokes are 15 cents. For carhop customers, “minimum service 25 cents per person average per car.” The signature “chicken in the rough” (half a chicken, fries, two dinner rolls and honey) is $1.50, or $1.10 on Mondays.
I reduced the tri-fold menu to fit on this page. If you want to study it closely, click on the thumbnail versions below.
Today’s column is a capsule history of this fondly remembered drive-in, restaurant and coffee shop, which lasted from 1957 to 1971, became a nightclub and then a disco and fell to the wrecking ball in the mid-1980s. Architecture buffs are still mourning the loss of the structure, a notable example of John Lautner’s work. Here’s Lautner’s Wikipedia entry.
We’ve talked about Henry’s on this blog before — click here to read that — but now we have photos.
The two photos above are courtesy of the Pomona Public Library’s special collections room and date to 1957. The restaurant is so big it’s hard to get a good view of it, but these aren’t bad. The top photo emphasizes the drive-in area, whereas the dine-in entrance is highlighted in the other. You can see a bit of the Henry’s sign on the corner in the top one.
This photo above of the dining room is from Charles Phoenix’s book “Cruising the Pomona Valley 1930 Thru 1970.” To call it stylish doesn’t do it justice.
The photo at right below is also from Phoenix’s book and shows a bartender in the cocktail lounge hard at work.
The photo at left below is from Barbara-Ann Campbell-Lange’s book “Lautner,” a handy overview of the architect’s work, and shows the coffee shop portion. Note the cutouts in the wall, through which a sliver of the kitchen can be seen, and the huge window. No wonder critic Alan Hess, in his midcentury architecture classic “Googie Redux,” writes: “Indoors and outdoors flowed together smoothly.”
And here’s the corner today. *Yawn*
Reader Susan Rose Fenske wrote recently from Brownsville, Ore., after finding my blog while searching for historical Pomona stuff. She attended Pomona High before graduating from Ganesha High in 1959. After her 50th high school reunion, she began thinking about times gone by.
And those included Seapy’s, a restaurant on East Holt near the old Pomona High.
“I used to go here with my friends and order mashed potatoes and gravy and chocolate cream pie. I loved those two things and ordered a la carte,” Fenske writes.
“I understand the restaurant has been gone for many, many years now. Do you know of any pictures of the restaurant when it was as it was?”
Bruce Guter of the Pomona Public Library couldn’t find any photos of the restaurant but he did find the charming advertisement at left in the 1956 Pomona High yearbook.
Anyone remember Seapy’s?
Joseph Ross wrote recently with a reminiscence of Pomona’s old Taco Lita stand:
“It was a small taco place, obviously, located on Holt Avenue, not far from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (though on the opposite side of Holt as St. Joe’s). We would go there a lot when my mom didn’t feel like cooking and bring their awesome tacos home. I have great memories of them as the original comfort food.
“One of my old high school classmates, Steve Julian, now a commentator on KPCC – NPR Radio, actually sent me some little packets of their sauce from what looks like their remaining store in Arcadia, I think.
“My dad remembered that their tacos were 4 for $1, and on Fridays during Lent, when Catholics weren’t supposed to eat meat, they were 5 for $1. Imagine!”
Anyone else want to toss in their 2 cents on Taco Lita?
I was in the MT 60 Plaza in Chino on Tuesday, picking up a comic book at Comic Madness on my way back from lunch at Flo’s Airport Cafe, when I was startled to see a giant banner above the Tamale King sign saying the space is “Ideal for Restaurant.”
Uh-oh. A closer look shows the storefront is cleared out. A clerk at the comic shop said Tamale King left earlier this month.
There’s no farewell sign or message to customers, but the extensive legend painted on the window says the business was founded in 1969 — 40 years ago — and asserts: “We are the original and only Tamale King in the Chino Valley. Come in and taste the history of our family.”
A December 2008 feature on the restaurant can be read if you click below.
Is the “original and only” Tamale King really gone, and why?
Reader Elizabeth Ertel alerts us that Mama’s Grill, a Greek restaurant on Haven Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, near Arrow Highway in the JC Penney Outlet center, is closed.
I had a good meal there a few years back and that’s all I know. Anyone eat there or know anything about the place?
Reader Bob Butcher left a comment on our ever-popular Things That Aren’t Here Anymore thread recently — part of our Reminiscin’ category — which prompted a response from his old friend and former Taco Jiffy employee Sally (Switzer) Lasby.
Taco Jiffy? Turns out that’s the forerunner of today’s Taco King, the place on Foothill in Upland with the charming sign with a cactus and the motto “Home of the Bean Special.”
I reconnected the two of them and Bob us sent the following e-mail. I’m presenting a portion of it here, lightly edited, because it may bring back memories for some of you. For the rest of us, it’s an entertaining read. Take it away, Bob:
“Do I remember Taco Jiffy? I spent five years of my life there pumping out Mexican delicacies to the public.
“I fondly remember some of the ‘special customers,’ like the group that came weekly from Otis Elevator in RC (not here anymore). The Hells Angels roared in weekly. They had just recently formed and were headquartered in an old stone house in north Rancho Cucamonga.
“And then there were the ‘frantic’ 10 Cent Taco Monday Nights! A prominent coupon in the Daily Report TV section produced really long lines of hungry bodies. Then there were the frequent visits of Vince Vella, better known as “Little Oscar” (the world’s smallest chef) and the famed Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile. They parked it in front of the place and Vince gave the kids OM whistles and then came inside where my Mom would fix him a vegetable tostada.
“Across the street from Taco Jiffy was Weitzel’s Yum Yum Burgers and Frostees (not here anymore), home of the fantastic Atomic Burger — gigantic and delicious. And east of that, the original Noble Inn (not here anymore). All of this was just east of Bill’s Ranch Market (not here anymore), the Chevron gas station (not here anymore) — and across Foothill Blvd was/is Upland Memorial Park.
“Do I remember Taco Jiffy? You better believe I do!!!”
Wasn’t that fun? Thanks, Bob.