Spring brings another round of Inland Empire restaurant changes

Regular readers of this blog know that if there is one constant here in the Inland Empire, at least in the food service industry, it is change.

Recently, it feels as if that change has accelerated, highlighted by a few major restaurant closures.

Two of those closures happened at the end of May.

Both Redlands’ Farm Artisan Foods and Highland’s SportsWatch Bar and Grill closed May 31.

Both closures were announced via the restaurants’ Facebook pages, although we knew in advance of Farm Artisan Foods’ pending closure. SportsWatch’s post was made early on June 1.

Another big loss is the impending closure of the Elephant Bar at 1050 E. Harriman Place in San Bernardino. The location’s demise comes just a few months after another Inland Empire location — at the Galleria at Tyler — was shuttered. No closing date has been set, but it’s expected within a week or so, so go while you still can.

The chain’s remaining Inland Empire locations are in Montclair and Palm Desert.

On a more positive note, the San Bernardino Buffalo Wild Wings location recently opened at 690 E. Hospitality Lane. There was a little bit of a misunderstanding over the restaurant’s payment policy when they first opened up, but that appears to have been ironed out.

In other good news, Mike and Judie’s Grocery Warehouse, which closed on Inland Center Drive in San Bernardino earlier this year, is being resurrected in a new location. Work is progressing on the former Weber’s Bread bakery at 1111 W. Ninth St. Thanks to Lydia Pacheco-Sandoval for the tip. We missed shopping for bargains at Mike and Judie’s and are looking forward to their reopening!

Also relocating is Redlands’ Papaya Bay. The Thai restaurant is moving into the old Wild Rocket/Mikan spot at 345 W. Pearl Ave., about a block away from its old location. According to its Facebook page, Wild Rocket is relocating to downtown Redlands.

Moving into the old Papaya Bay location is the rapidly expanding pizza chain Pieology. The chain caused quite a stir by giving pizzas away during a pre-opening stress test at its Rancho Cucamonga location. It appears the same will be happening at the Redlands location at 623 Orange St. prior to its scheduled opening in mid-July. Check back here in early July for updates.

The chain’s Upland location, 1071 E. 19th St., Unit A, is set to open Monday (June 9).

Also in Upland, Souvlla Greek Grill has opened in the former Taco Factory spot in the older, section of Colonies Crossroads at 1945 N. Campus Ave., Suite C. Food is served buffet-style and customers pay by the pound.

In downtown Riverside, Mezcal Cantina y Cocina has opened in the former Phood on Main location, 3737 Main St., No. 100. It’s the latest venture from the folks behind the also-downtown ProAbition Whiskey Lounge and Kitchen.

In San Bernardino, Ivan’s Burgers has opened up in the distinctive former IHOP building at 265 W. Highland Ave.

In Colton, Satayz Asian Cuisine, featuring a mix of Chinese and Indonesian dishes, has opened in the spot which was most recently New China Wok, 1231 E. Washington St. Suite C.

There’s also been some changes at Corona’s Shops at Dos Lagos. We were sad to see that Christopher Michael Ice Cream had closed. We visited a couple of times for a deliciously decadent sweet treat. The Costa Mesa location remains open.

Also, Steam Haus Gastropub has been replaced by Vino Veritas Wine Bar and Restaurant. You can find Vino Veritas at 2785 Cabot Drive, Suite 110. Vino Veritas was previously located in Riverside, while Steam Haus has moved to Riverside, at 3595 University Ave.

Also newly opened at Dos Lagos is Live from Memphis Rock & Roll Piano Bar and Restaurant. The dueling piano bar is open for lunch and dinner and has live shows daily, with two shows on Saturday. You’ll find Live from Memphis at 2795 Cabot Drive, Suite 180.

Not sure exactly when this happened — sometime earlier this year — but the Farm House Restaurant in Banning closed. We would occasionally drive out there for a good, hearty breakfast.

In La Verne, the former Denny’s location at 919 Foothill Blvd. has become Mr. D’s Diner.

Starbucks has a new outlet in Redlands, at 1755 E. Lugonia Ave. The chain is also planning another new location, complete with a 24-hour drive-thru, in downtown Redlands, at the site of the former La Rosita Mexican Food drive-thru, 625 Redlands Blvd. The new location’s interior will be closed just two hours a day, from 2:30 to 4:30 a.m.

How are things in your neck of the Inland Empire? See any new restaurants? Your favorite place close down? Let us know via email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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