Restaurant survivors keep serving it up

I’ve thought of a few more restaurants (with the help of a few friends) since writing last Friday’s column. There’s Nena’s in downtown San Bernardino, Las Palmas on E Street in San Bernardino, Donahoo’s Golden Chicken in Pomona, Lucy’s on Sierra Way in San Bernardino, Zacateca’s Cafe in Riverside, Taco Tia on Del Rosa Avenue in San Bernardino and Wong’s Kitchen on E Street in San Bernardino.

I’m sure there are many others. Feel free to comment below.

My column (as it appeared in the paper) follows:

My column of two weeks ago about the state of flux among Inland Empire restaurants prompted a former Redlands resident to write asking the fate of the fondly-remembered Bing’s Famous Cathay Inn in San Bernardino.

I informed the reader that the restaurant had long been sold and the building demolished to make way for the expansion of Crest Chevrolet.

This got me thinking of the local eateries that have survived year after year.

What is the secret to their longevity?

Quite a few of them are along Route 66, perhaps not coincidentally.

In San Bernardino, for instance, the Mitla Cafe has been around since 1937.

Wow. That’s almost as long as my parents have been around.

Along Highland Avenue are several restaurants that have been in business since my family moved here in the early 1970s.

The Mug, the Golden Dragon, the Little Dragon, Gazzolo’s, the Mexico Cafe and the Mongolian Bar-B-Q at Del Rosa Avenue all have been for all those years.

Heck, even some fast food places, like the H. Salt Fish and Chips next door to the Mongolian Bar-B-Q, have been around since then.

They have succeeded where many, many others have failed.

Other cities have their survivors, too.

Claremont’s Espiau’s Restaurante y Cantina originally was begun in 1919 in Pomona.

In Upland, the Buffalo Inn was established in 1929.

In Ontario, Vince’s Spaghetti has been dishing up pasta since 1945.

Over in Rancho Cucamonga, there’s the Magic Lamp Inn, which has been around since 1955.

But just down Route 66 is the granddaddy of them all, the Sycamore Inn, with its “famous hospitality since 1848.”

These are just a few of the winners of the restaurant survival game.

What keeps them open? Loyal customers like you.