A paean to the Pomona Concert Band


The Thursday night concerts in Ganesha Park by the Pomona Concert Band have been highlighted by me before. But they don’t seem to be as well-known as they should. Mary P. Wallace of La Verne emailed me to make that point.

“They may be the best-kept secret in the valley. It would be a wonderful evening for families in our valley,” Wallace writes. She’s a native of Pomona and has attended the concerts off and on since the 1960s, but has gone consistently the past few years.

To her ears, the Pomona Concert Band is the best community orchestra around. “The reason is that they play wonderful Sousa marches, and other familiar pops music, plus introducing me to new and beautiful music. They are truly a class act, led by Linda Taylor,” Wallace continues.

She and her friend, Jan Van Alstine, have developed a routine, stopping first at the food trucks at the fairgrounds to try something unfamiliar, and then on to neighboring Ganesha Park for the 8 p.m. concerts at the band shell, on White Avenue just north of the 10 Freeway.


“The park is ‘safe’ and accessible. Just bring a lawn chair,” advises Wallace. She also notes a new feature this year: carvings from the logs of dead trees. There’s a bear rearing up as you approach the band shell, and an eagle perched at the top of a trunk on the rise overlooking the band shell.

As Wallace says, the eagle is “watching over us, enjoying a real piece of Americana.”

I always attend one concert each season and was there last Thursday. (Wallace and Van Alstine saw me and introduced themselves.)

Instrumental music isn’t my thing, candidly, and I’m more of a Glass House person, but the band’s ambition and range is always laudable, from modern symphonic works and showtunes to a classical song by Holst and, yes, a Sousa composition. I like the tradition too, music under the stars at our mini-Hollywood Bowl, something Pomonans have been doing since the late 1940s.

The season’s last Thursday concert is Aug. 25, but there’s a 6 p.m. Aug. 28 concert as well. See the schedule and program notes here. And here is the food truck lineup for this Thursday.


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The Bear Gulch bear


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.


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Column: Oh, fudge! Farrell’s in RC closes shop


Friday’s column may give you an ice cream headache: Farrell’s has left the Inland Valley for the second time. First it was Montclair in the 1980s. Now it’s Rancho Cucamonga this month. Plus: two more items, and a valley vignette. Above, a thwarted diner reads the message Tuesday afternoon about the closing.

If you want to read about the old Farrell’s, I posted about it here.

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Restaurant of the Week: Zait Bistro


Zait Bistro, 7251 Haven Ave. (at Base Line), Rancho Cucamonga

Located in Terra Vista Village, next to Stuffed Pizza and Ralphs and near a boba shop, Zait Bistro is a mom and pop Lebanese restaurant. A friend picked it for dinner based on online ratings and it sounded fine to me.

Zait’s menu has 10 combo plates of shawarma, kababs and falafel, which come with two sides and pita bread. They can be ordered in two or three sizes depending on the number of skewers or pieces you prefer ($8 to $15). They also have grilled chicken, sandwiches and salads.

The woman at the counter let us try some of the sides, which were in small bins at the counter behind plastic. That was nice. It was like being at an ice cream shop, except we were trying Mediterranean salad, not mint chip.


I ordered a small lamb kabab, with one skewer, plus tabbouleh and grape leaves ($10); my friend had two shrimp skewers plus potatoes and falafel ($15). We sat down to await our food. A sign on the wall cautions that “fresh food is not fast food” and gives the preparation time for each entree, up to 18 minutes.

Our food arrived after what seemed like a typical wait, but the heads-up was appreciated, as was the concept of making our food to order. It’s served in foam containers, which isn’t much for presentation, but for those taking home leftovers, it’s handy.

My lamb was very good, and one skewer was quite enough food, especially with the sides. My friend got about eight shrimp of impressive size. “This is a lot of shrimp,” she exclaimed. I was a little envious. She also praised her falafel for having more taste than the typical overly fried version.


Zait has a Pepsi freestyle machine and Turkish coffee for 99 cents, plus baklava and harissa for dessert.

I would go back. Zait is all right.


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Richfield sign’s return



The Richfield sign atop the restored Cucamonga Service Station was put back in place Friday morning. Reader Diego Ramirez contributed the two photos above. The gas station, now a Route 66 museum, was built in 1915 and stands on Foothill Boulevard just west of Archibald Avenue.

You might recall that the rooftop sign was taken down in February until its height could be lowered by a couple of feet. Its placement interfered with the electronic billboard next door, and its owner, Lennar Advertising Co, had after all donated the service station to the nonprofit Route 66 Inland Empire California Association, so its request deserved consideration.

Below is a view of the newly installed sign on Monday, shot by me as a selfie out my window while stopped at a red light in the northbound turn lane! There’s a small shopping center going up to the west, as you can see.


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Remembering Lord Charley’s


Lord Charley’s (2035 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, at Central Avenue) operated from 1971 to 1991, followed by another decade as Charley’s Pub and Grill, which closed in 2002. Sunday’s column (Aug. 6, 2016) will be about the restaurant.

Here are some photos courtesy of co-owner Linda Keagle and phone directory ads courtesy of the Ontario Public Library’s Model Colony History Room.


Above and below, two views of the dining room. Linda Keagle says: “The rock fireplace was originally part of the old Matteo’s Italian restaurant. That building was torn down in the ’60s and the second generation of the Matteo family rebuilt the present structure around the old rock fireplace. We took over the location in 1971. The fireplace was open to both the dining room and the bar and was a major part of the ambiance.”


Linda says of the above photo: “This particular table was the ‘family table’ for the Keagles. There were six chairs at the table when we dined there, the two of us and our four young kids. By the way, we were all present when we closed the restaurant in January 2002. Lots of wonderful memories of dinners with our family and our friends.”


The above ad was in the 1972 phone book.


The above ad was from 1980.


The ad above appeared in 1982. The English lord is now going hatless. And he’s eating as well as drinking.


Linda brought a menu to show me, mounted on oak.

Did you ever eat at Lord Charley’s or Charley’s Pub? What do you remember?

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Restaurant of the Week: House of Pong


House of Pong, 1077 W. Foothill (at Towne), Claremont

This small brown building squeezed between a Shell station and the Stater Bros. center was home to Inka Trails for many years and Jeni Wren’s for under a year. It’s now House of Pong, an Asian fusion restaurant, although you could be forgiven for reading the Gothic script of the sign as something slightly racy.

Someone else had recommended it to me as a great small plates place, but I was skeptical, figuring the restaurant would close before I could get there anyway based on the location. But months later, it was still open when a friend suggested it for dinner based on the 4.5-star Yelp rating. So we took a chance.


The rustic interior has been redone, and a bar has been added. It was a slow weeknight and we were the only customers for a long stretch. The server was attentive, but then, she didn’t have anything else to do.

The menu has salads, soups, sandwiches and entrees, many seafood-based, including ramen, udon, yakisoba and rice bowls. It was tricky figuring out what combinations of plates from the wide-ranging menu might make a satisfying meal.



We split an appetizer, Flamin’ Cheesy Cheetos ($7), which were mozzarella sticks covered in crumbled cheetos, and strangely addicting. My friend had the soft-shell crab sandwich ($13), served on Hawaiian bread. He said there was a lot of crab but that he mostly tasted the breading.



I had the salmon skin salad ($8) and Under the Sea soup ($7). The soup, with scallop, clams, mussel, shrimp, zucchini and onion, was lukewarm and seemed made up of individual ingredients. The salad was better.

Some of the Yelp photos look better than what we had, so we might just have ordered poorly. That said, the rapturous reviews didn’t match our experience, and I can’t recommend the place. Cute chalkboard, though.


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