From time to time, Ruth Reichl, Times restaurant editor, and John Dreyfuss, staff writer, explore neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles to describe restaurants, stores and other highlights. This sampling of stores and restaurants in Claremont is the first of two articles. The second will appear on an upcoming Thursday. Its subjects will include some of the artists in Claremont and the Claremont Colleges.
It seems fitting that the business section of Claremont is known locally as The Village.
At a time when the spirit of village living is vanishing from Southern California as fast as its orange groves, people just 32 miles east of Los Angeles in The Village maintain the kind of closeness, friendliness and caring attitude that recently allowed longtime resident Mack Parks, 75, to say of his friend Fred Bentley, 76, "He could name everyone who came through the doors."
The occasion that proved Bentley's ability to put names with faces was a good example of the "villageness" of Claremont: the open house celebrated by Bentley's Food Market last year in honor of remodeling the store. Where else but in a close-knit village would a local market give itself such a party: a complete buffet supper, decorations and a host who knows all the customers?
And where else is the spirit of competition so tempered by the spirit of fairness that a man like Bentley will admonish a reporter not to mention him in print without saying something about the other Claremont family market, Wolfe's, which has been run by the same family since 1917?
Like many villages, Claremont has a wealth of shops and restaurants that generally are more hospitable than their big-city cousins. There seems to be more time to pay attention to people and things in Claremont.
There is more to Claremont than The Village. The sampling below of places to eat and shop includes only village places, except for the Griswold's complex and Wolfe's Market, which are north of The Village.
Visitors interested in Claremont beyond its unofficial village borders can explore Foothill Boulevard to the north and Indian Hill Boulevard to the south. Or, for between 50 cents and $1.50, they can avail themselves of several walking tours written by local historian Judy Wright.
One tour is of The Village, another of the Memorial Park area, a third of "Russian Village" and a fourth of the Claremont colleges. There is also a somewhat out-of-date but still worthwhile tree tour of the colleges. Copies of the tours are available at the Chamber of Commerce, Claremont Books & Prints, Huntley Book Store, Claremont Heritage Inc. or, on Sundays, by calling (714) 624-0111.
In the following sampling of retail outlets in and near The Village, numbers indicating places to eat and buy food and letters indicating stores correspond to numbers and letters on the accompanying map.
1 and A. Griswold's Inn and Restaurants and the Old School House Shops, (714) 626-2411, intersection of Indian Hill and Foothill boulevards. A 280-room hotel is surrounded by restaurants and shops, many of them in what used to be Claremont High School. Among the businesses are:
--Arts and Crafts Fair, about 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Artists and crafts people cover the lawn with what Griswold's hotel manager Joe Estes says are more than 100 booths filled with paintings, sculpture, pottery, woodcarvings and other arts and crafts.
--Griswold's Smorgasbord, (714) 621-9360, Sunday-Thursday 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. This place is both a food and gifts smorgasbord. The restaurant part, which has the same hours as the big gift shop except for closing from 4 to 5 p.m., includes a wide selection of hot and cold smorgasbord items for all three all-you-can-eat meals. There is a bakery, featuring a big window through which customers can watch cakes being decorated. The gift shop sells candles, mugs, jewelry, porcelain, dolls, teas, paper goods, cards, vases and myriad other items, many with a Scandanavian motif.
--Indian Hill Restaurant, (714) 621-3200, Monday-Saturday 6:30-11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Manager Al DeSio says popular items include the beef bar at lunch and Caesar salad and poached salmon at dinner, plus the Sunday brunch and "gourmet buffet" Sunday evenings.
--Don Salsa, (714) 625-3944, Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Monday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-midnight, and Saturday 9 a.m.-midnight. The 14-page menu in this 280-seat restaurant includes favorites like Fernando's Special (sauteed chopped beef, onions, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and oregano scrambled with eggs and served with lettuce, tomato and avocado) and El Monte Cristo (ham, turkey, Swiss cheese dipped in egg batter and fried), steak and shrimp, Mexican-style barbecue chicken and ribs. Owner/chef Nick Montoya, who loves to promote his restaurant, will tell you about famous customers from Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia to Ronald Reagan.
--La Gourmande, (714) 625-7542, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. French pastries and candies are this store's fare.
--Tidbits, (714) 624-5360, daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Owner Sharon Glass specializes in deli food and a few gift items. You can eat your sandwich or salad inside or on the patio.
--Laff Stop, (714) 621-6808, Thursday-Saturday, doors open 7:30 p.m. for 8:15 p.m. show. Friday and Saturday, doors open for late show at 10 p.m., curtain at 10:30 p.m. Craig Stewart of the Laff Stop says you can watch stand-up comics at this nightclub in the boiler room of the old schoolhouse while you drink your beer, wine, juice, coffee or soft drink and nibble on appetizers from the adjacent Don Salsa restaurant.
--Cactus Glassworks, (714) 626-5585, Wednesday and Friday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. M. Rhys Williams blows art glass in a patio next to his shop, so you can watch what you buy start as a molten lump and turn into a piece of contemporary art glass, a vase or a bowl. Ellen Williams, Rhys' wife, sells her ceramic work and paintings in the same store.
--Station 1, (714) 626-0291, Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday noon-5 p.m. Sarita MacDonald will sell you stamps and post cards and mail your letters at this contract post office, where you can also buy mailing accessories like wrapping paper, gift cards and pencils.
--Merlin's Crystal Cave, (714) 626-0398, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Metaphysical books, candles, incense, perfumed oils, jewelry and fantasy statuary fill this esoteric little store.
--Sport Shop II, (714) 626-1415, daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Gloria Covell sells casual resort wear, mostly for women, though you'll find a few items for men.
--The Trading Card Co., (714) 621-0660, Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mark Terrell, who owns the store, just deals in baseball cards. He will sell you old and new cards for between 2 cents and $400.
--Hollyhock Shop, (714) 624-8388, Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Handmade gift items in Victorian and American-country style make up most of this shop's stock.
--Bear Street and the Pink Mushroom, (714) 625-2995, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The teddy-bear population here defies the imagination. Co-owner Bea Junker guesses that she has hundreds of different kinds of teddies, along with dolls, stuffed animals, doll-house furniture and electric trains.
--The Emporium, (714) 624-3955, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Susanne Laundry watches over her specialty gift store, where you can buy American-made items like quilts, brass ware, baskets and folk art.
--Cook's Nook, (714) 624-3306, daily 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. If you're looking for something for the kitchen, you may well find it in this kitchen gift shop.
--Olde Tyme Treasures, (714) 625-4833, Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. This store is full of jewelry as well as collector plates that you're more likely to look at than eat off.
--Wicks and Wishes, (714) 624-1445, daily 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (except Friday, when the hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m.) Tim Ruth sells candles and gifts here.
--Art Gallery and Photo Museum, (714) 624-5747 Saturday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. You'll find everything from $4 reproductions of old-time photographs to a $2,500 lithograph signed by artist Salvador Dali. If you want your picture framed and matted, that service is available.
--Bryan's, (714) 621-6611, daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Owner Bryan Takeda will serve you ice cream, sandwiches and soft drinks.
2. Wolfe's Market, 160 W. Foothill Blvd., (714) 626-8508, Monday-Friday 8 a.m-7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. "We try to just baby everybody who comes in," says Tom Wolfe, who represents the fourth generation of his family to run this friendly market where free coffee is served to customers. Wolfe's dad, Ed, or grandfather, Claude, personally makes a daily trip to a produce market for fruits and vegetables. The Wolfes know almost everyone who comes through the oak doors of their small (for a supermarket) establishment, and if they don't know you when you come in, they're likely to know you before you leave.
3. Walter's Restaurant, 310 Yale Ave., (714) 624-2779, Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Lots of local folks meet here to chat, do business and eat--sometimes all at once. You can find a table in the coffee shop, outside in a bungalow or in the patio. There are three menus: one for inside, one for outside and one for Afghan food, which is served Wednesdays and Fridays, 5-9 p.m. Co-owners Nangy and Fahima Ghafarshad are from Afghanistan and keep some of their native food on all the menus. Occasionally, they'll invent a "polyglot" dish like lamb burritos, which are big and delicious. Sunday champagne brunches are very popular, as are omelets (especially lamb and spinach) and the salad bar. Fahima is the chef (pastries are her specialty); Nangy manages the restaurant.
4. Pizza 'n Such, 273 West 2nd St., (714) 624-7214, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 or 10 p.m., Saturday 4:30-10 p.m. Six years ago, waitress Susan Verbal and her real estate agent husband, Mike, wanted "a good, steady income," so they bought this unpretentious 24-seat restaurant where the informality is typified by the flexible weekday hours that Susan says "just depend on how business is." The Verbals make their own pizza crusts and sauce, use only fresh vegetables and give you a chance to order custom-made pizza with everything from extra crust to extra sauce. In addition to pizza, the menu offers Italian dinners, grinders, beer (Watneys on tap) and wine. There is just one dessert: cheesecake made in the restaurant's kitchen.
5. Bentley's Food Market, 235 Yale Ave., (714) 626-1637, Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. It's not surprising that Claremont natives talk about this market as if it were a town treasure. The place is as clean as can be, carries an extraordinary variety of brands and is friendly as a town square. Shelved among the everyday labels are lots of surprises like private-label pickles, jams and preserves, Grandma Jo's Original Meat Sauce, lemon marmalade from Vermont and Silver Palate mustard and salad dressing. Bill Bentley, who gave up a banking career to run the full-service market, represents the third generation of his family to oversee the place. He still helps stock shelves, greets customers by name and glows with pride over his market. Bentley is especially proud of his produce, meats and deli.
6. Yiannis, 238 Yale Ave., (714) 621-2413, Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. John (or Yianni) Gianakos has owned his Greek restaurant 23 years, and when you ask an old-time Claremont resident about good places to eat, this one almost always is mentioned. Popular menu items include saganaki, an appetizer of fried kasseri flamed with brandy and served with fried pita flavored with garlic and oregano. At lunch, souvlakia and gyros are big sellers. And for dinner, all lamb dishes sell well. "People who come here are basically people who love good lamb," Gianakos says. A lot of those people also come for his aveolemono, a tart egg-and-lemon soup with pasta that comes with every dinner, along with Greek salad, complimentary baklava made by Gianakos' wife, Stella, and a glass of Mavrodaphne, which is black rose wine. "We call it Greek sherry," Gianakos says. "It tops the meal off."
7 and E. Harvard Square, 206 W. Bonita Ave., is a group of shops and places to eat in what used to be the Village Theater.
--Nick's Caffe Trevi, (714) 621-3226, Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m-10 p.m., Sunday-Monday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Offers cappuccino, espresso and other coffees. Iced cappuccino and Italian ices join the menu in warm weather. To supplement the coffees, there are pastries and cookies, including popular chocolate croissants.
--Square One, (714) 621-3773, Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Dick Barber grew up in Claremont and went on to become an airplane salesman, college fund-raiser and tour manager for Frank Zappa before opening this pleasantly informal restaurant four years ago. He's proud of his French onion soup, large selections of omelets, sandwiches and hamburgers. Locals sometimes order the Laszlo, named for a local merchant: scrambled eggs, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and Dijon mustard. Full dinners on Fridays and Saturdays only.
--Craft Design, (714) 624-6201, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. A huge variety of rubber stamps "pays the rent" in this store crowded with gift ideas, many of the stationery items designed by co-owner Suzanne Zetterberg, who, when she's in the stmre (usually Thursdays and Saturdays) will hand-paint names and aphorisms on things you buy such as plastic boxes and children's room decorations.
--Rousseau's Garden, (714) 624-1063, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. This store sports an 18-by-40-foot "Rousseau takeoff" mural painted across the wall by co-owner Susan Kaupp and a friend. Kaupp sells artificial flora as large as a 7-foot ficus tree and as tiny as baby's breath. "We have 400 varieties of artificial flowers, or more . . . maybe lots more," she says. She also sells dried flowers, paper party goods, candles, picture frames, vases and earrings. For $15 an hour, Kaupp, who has a degree in art, will tastefully arrange your artificial flowers for eternity.
--Romeos, (714) 625-1632, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Men's, women's and children's clothing dating from the '40s to the '80s is on consignment at this store, which carries wearables "from name fashions to vintage funk," co-owner Lesley Heath says. Prices definitely are vintage, with men's camel's-hair sport jackets going for $20, silk blouses for $15. "A lot of people come here just for the atmosphere," Elizabeth Darrow Jones, Heath's partner, says. "We invite them to hang out here. We like it. People bring their coffee and visit on the couch."
8. Sammy's Sandwiches and Pizza, 245 N. Harvard Ave., (714) 626-5167, daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m. High school and college students are attracted to this place that features sandwiches, pizza, frozen yogurt and Tofutti.
9. Some Place Else, 225 Yale Ave., (714) 625-3255, Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Big, homemade ice cream cones are a feature in this ice cream parlor, which will fill one of those cones with 15 "mini-scoops," each a different flavor, or sell you 25 bigger scoops in a bowl for $25. You also can buy sodas, sundaes, sandwiches, salads and soups.
10 and I. Claremont Tea Co., 221 Yale Ave., (714) 626-8293, Tuesday-Thursday 9:15 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9:15 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday-Monday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Barbara Hartz, a student of organizational psychology at Claremont Graduate School, must figure that the best psychology is offering choices. In the little store that she manages, she stocks about 85 varieties of coffee, 150 specific teas, 115 kinds of herbs, 75 different spices, 65 various candies (most of them in bulk and not even counting 43 kinds of Jelly Bellies), and she will special-order whatever teas, coffees, herbs and spices she doesn't stock. Besides selling all of the above to go, she'll make you espresso or cappuccino to drink on the spot or sell you equipment to make it yourself--ranging from a $425 espresso- cappuccino machine to a 25-cent cloth tea bag.
11. Village Grill, 148 Yale Ave., (714) 626-8813, Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m.-5 p.m. This is an old standby coffee shop with a genuine soda fountain, which owner Joseph Nammour says has been around more than 40 years. Breakfast favorites include biscuits with white gravy and waffles. Big sellers at lunch are a different homemade soup every day ("We don't open any soup cans here," Nammour says) and the Village Champ hamburger. Breakfast and lunch specials vary daily.
12 and L. Victoria Shop Scottish Imports, 214 West 2nd St., (714) 621-9100, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Rosemary Davis stocks kilts, bagpipes and 642 family coats of arms on coffee mugs. She also has coats of arms on plaques, pewter mugs, glassware, needlepoint and blazer badges. If she doesn't have your coat of arms, she'll order it. Among other items, the store's shelves hold Scottish (and some Irish) clothing, Scottish fabric, records and packaged food.
13. A. Kline Chocolatier, 210 West 2nd St., (714) 626-6646, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. 5 p.m. Whether you're looking for truffles at $12 a pound or a dime's worth of jelly beans, you'll find them here, just three blocks from the kitchen where Allene Kline and her husband, Marty Czerniak, make about 150 different kinds of chocolate candy. "Chocolate is kind of like wine," Czerniak says. "There are many facets to it, many different tastes, many experiences." He proves his point with goodies such as raspberry-and-cream truffles and black walnuts and raisins surrounded by dark chocolate. You can get a chocolate Mercedes or Porsche in dark brown, light brown or white or your company logo molded in the fine wine of candies. Or you can choose from about 75 different kinds of mass-produced candy from around the world.
14. Federico's Italian Deli and Restaurant, 131 Yale Ave., (714) 621-4091, Monday-Friday 6-10 a.m., Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tony Federico came to California from Brooklyn, N.Y., to sell and repair cars 16 years ago. It took him four years to decide that selling food is a better idea. "You can't eat fenders; you can eat food," he says. The result is this "little bit of Brooklyn in Claremont," where Tony is the chef and his wife, Josephine, the baker. Tony, who is always thinking and is never at a loss to tell you what he thinks, adds a lot of character to this place where a favorite breakfast item is an omelet so filled with sausage, meatballs and mozzarella cheese that two people usually share one. For lunch, the stuffed chicken breast goes fast, and at dinner, linguine with mussels is popular. Josephine's strudel is the winning dessert. The deli features Italian cheeses, sausage Tony makes on the premises and Italian olives, artichokes and mushrooms that Tony marinates himself.
15. Chateau Restaurant, 126 Yale Ave., (714) 624-9624, Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Hashem Sayegh was executive chef at the Brown Derby in Hollywood before opening his Continental and American restaurant in January. Favorite items include chicken Francois and coquille St. Jacques for lunch and medallions of beef Dijonese and rack of lamb for dinner.
16. La Piccoletta, 138 N. Indian Hill Blvd., (714) 624-1373, Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-8:30 p.m., Friday 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Saturday 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Finding this hidden Italian restaurant is like finding a gondola on a sunny summer's day in Venice: difficult, but worthwhile. You enter either through a parking lot off Indian Hill Boulevard just north of 1st Street or through an alley off 1st Street just east of Indian Hill Boulevard. What you find behind La Piccoletta's heavy wooden door Tuesdays through Thursdays is Pasta Night, when owner/chef Enzo Biscardi prepares salad, a dish of pasta and a glass of wine for $5.75. Fridays and Saturdays there are two seatings for $13.50 dinners of antipasto, pasta, veal, chicken, fresh vegetable and a light dessert. You'll need reservations on weekends and for the monthly Trip to Italy Dinner cooked for $40 a person by Biscardi and his wife, Linda. They tailor each meal to a different region of Italy, often one to which they have traveled to research local dishes. These Sunday dinners are held at 5 p.m. La Piccoletta's atmosphere is informal; if the place is full, which it usually is, 28 customers sit close together at heavy wooden tables beneath local artist Jeff Faust's trompe l'oeil murals of clerestory windows through which you see what Biscardi describes as "the Italian sky at twilight."
17. Some Crust Bakery, 119 Yale Ave., (714) 621-9772, Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-11 a.m. When Dorothy Demke was personal secretary to internationally renowned management consultant and author Peter Drucker, she used to lie in bed on Sunday mornings and wish for "a wonderful croissant." Then, four years ago, "because I needed to do something that I would be creating, one night I said to my husband: 'Why don't we buy the bakery?' The next morning we found ourselves shaking hands with the owner and signing our lives away." The result is a bakery so popular that you often have to call ahead to reserve a loaf of bread. Big-selling items include mocha cookies, cheese Danish, ham-and-cheese croissants and cakes and pies. But nothing stays in the cases of this store very long. All baked goods are made with butter, fresh eggs, fresh milk and heavy cream. You can buy coffee, orange juice or milk and sit in one of half a dozen chairs surrounding two tables to eat your goodies. There's also Robin Rose ice cream from Venice, personally delivered by Demke's friend Robin.
18. Epicurious, 110 N. Harvard Ave., (714) 624-8081, Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-5 p.m. The chef and co-owner at this gourmet specialty food store is Joseph Rapport, former sous chef at Ma Maison in Los Angeles and former chef at the First St. Bar & Grill in Claremont. His wife, Ginger Proffitt-Rapport, owns the other half of Epicurious and runs the store that features salads, pates, sandwiches, entrees like smoked salmon, stuffed quail and individual servings of beef Wellington. There is a good selection of pastries and breads that Rapport makes, plus California wines, cheeses, oils, mustards, candies and other goodies.
19. First St. Bar & Grill, 102 N. Harvard Ave., (714) 625-3991, Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-10 p.m. This former gift shop, rape-crisis center and auto-parts store is generally acknowledged to be one of Claremont's best places to eat. "We wanted to bring together a convivial atmosphere together with really good food and drink, which wasn't available in Claremont," says co-owner Linda Moore of her 3-year-old restaurant. Popular dishes include crispy duck and warm seafood salad at dinner and cold chicken salad at lunch. The menu, which changes daily depending on what's in season and available, can include food like pigeon, sweetbreads, venison, shiitake mushrooms and radicchio .
A. See 1 above.
B. The Wandering Eye, 232 W. Harrison Ave., (714) 621-4208, Tuesday-Saturday noon-6 p.m., other hours by appointment. Terry Daugherty lives upstairs in this 1894 house where downstairs she sells "a bunch of stuff we like." The "stuff" includes Mexican masks and folk art, clothing, contemporary art by local people, jewelry and tin toys from France, China and Germany. Some of the local artists are Pamela Kroll (mixed media sculpture and fiber art), Andree Mahoney (ceramic sculpture), Salvador Perez (ceramic table ware) and Cris Gonzalez (large pottery).
C. The Chama, 319 Yale Ave., (714) 626-8982, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m. "Our staff gets to know our customers, what they need, what they like. If they want to change the way they look and feel about themselves, we spend a lot of time helping them capture the best in themselves," Joanna Wood says. She is owner of this store featuring special collections of women's clothing and contemporary and antique jewelry. Clothes are all natural fibers, contemporary, elegant and informal. Some items are hand painted; many are hand woven from materials made throughout the world. Wood finds clothing designers "each with his or her own flair, and none of whom produce for a large market. You won't find our clothes in a department store or in many specialty stores either, for that matter," she said.
D. Jasmine, 271 West 2nd St., (714) 625-1259, Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m. This place smells wonderful because it stocks 16 kinds of ready-to-go bath salts, an infinite number of scented bath salts that can be made up on the spot and 10 kinds of potpourri from the garden of Ann Caplan, mother of the store's owners, Barbara and Tori Caplan. There is a supply of handmade, hand-painted and hand-embroidered lingerie, much of it custom-made for the store. And you can buy a dried flower wreath, have it scented and then come back for more free scent as often as you want . . . or you can buy a $4 bottle of scent and do it yourself. There always is cloisonne jewelry. In spring and summer, there are summer dresses, and at Easter you'll be able to select from 250 custom-made hats. All this in 400 square feet.
E. See 7 above.
F. Rhino Records, 225 Yale Ave., (714) 626-7774, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m. Manager Don Watson says his store specializes in imported records from England, Germany and Japan along with punk and new music derived from rock 'n' roll "but dancier." The store caters mostly to a younger crowd, with records that cost from 37 cents to $99 for a set of nine Beatles discs.
G. Raku-Tsia, 224 Yale Ave., (714) 626-8876, Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. It's easy to get engrossed here in a maze of folk art, clothing and furnishings. There's everything from African and Mexican masks to teddy bears, from a radio designed to play in the shower to pottery and jewelry by local artists like John and Gretchen Fassbinder. You can buy a high-tech teapot or rice-paper stationery, Soleri bells or rugs from Europe, South America and Africa. If you want a $1,500 black walnut rocking chair, it's available. So is a Japanese fireman's jacket and other clothing from Mexico, China and Romania. You'll find jewelry from Thailand, trendy T-shirts and dresses, hand-blown stemware and exquisitely colorful, handmade mingei paper often used to cover books. Without question, Raku-Tsia is Claremont's most sophisticated "variety store."
H. Folk Music Center, 220 Yale Ave., (714) 624-2928, Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. This museum and store is one of the places in town that Claremonters most often mention to newcomers looking for interesting things to do and see. The Chase family--Charles and Dorothy, and now their daughter Ellen--has run the center for 27 years. They'll sell you a musical instrument ranging from a 50-cent Peruvian reed flute to a $2,000 Martin guitar. The store features dulcimers, guitars and banjos. A wide variety of instruments crowds the museum section: a 200-year-old French harp, sitars from India, a 7-foot koto from Japan, a bamboo marimba from West Africa, a talking drum from Ghana that changes pitch when the tension on its drum skin is changed, a rare African drum made from a single log, reed tube drums from the Fiji Islands that are played by banging them on the ground, voodoo drums from Haiti, goat bells from Greece, camel bells from India and water-buffalo bells from Bali. Beyond selling you an instrument, or repairing one you already own, the Chase musicians will demonstrate various instruments in their museum and talk about music as long as time allows. In the back of the store is a small toy department featuring substantial and unusual toys like wooden trucks from New England, which are big enough for kids to ride, and English puppets made of wood or papier-mache.
I. See 10 above.
J. Barbara Cheatley Antiques, 219 Yale Ave., (714) 621-4161, Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. "Ambulate and pry about" proclaims the business card of this delightfully cluttered establishment misnamed an antique store. There are, to be sure, antique furniture, porcelain, linen and quilts, but there are also a lot of extraordinary non-antiques ranging from wicker baskets to melon-shaped pitchers, wreaths and hats (decorated by Barbara Cheatley) to primitive paintings (by her daughter Kimberly Wingert), jewelry, books, cards, glassware, toys and a lot of other unusual and tasteful items of a quality that elevate this store to a position an order of magnitude above what usually is denoted by the term "gift shop."
K. Chapter One Books, 380 West 2nd St., (714) 621-9972, Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sandra Salazar Carter opened her bookstore a year ago to sell "used, out-of-print, rare and general books." Among some 23,000
volumes on her shelves, you'll find a wide variety of subjects and prices starting with a 12-cent paperback Western and ending with a $120, 82-year-old copy of "The Way of All Flesh" by Samuel Butler. Thanks to Carter's father's penchant for collecting autographs, walls are lined with letters from the likes of Christopher Morely, Pearl Buck, Upton Sinclair, Agatha Christie, Robert Frost, Rex Stout and Robert Penn Warren.
L. See 12 above.
M. Tibetan Artcraft Imports, 134 Yale Ave., (714) 626-8817, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Lobsang Dorje came from northern Tibet 14 years ago to study political science at Claremont Graduate School. "I liked it, so I stayed," he said. In 1973 he opened his store, which sells Tibetan imports ranging from $3.50 stuffed silk animals to $3,500 gold and silver teapots. In between, you'll find handmade rugs, jewelry, bronze statuettes, temple bells, a hand-embroidered monk's robe, a 200-year-old bronze Buddha and ritual dance masks.
N. Claremont Books and Prints, 126 Yale Ave. (upstairs), (714) 624-0757, Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. You might think that you're in Cambridge (either Massachusetts or England) when you're in this second-story used-book and print store featuring mostly out-of-print volumes. Books crowd floor-to-ceiling shelves in four upstairs rooms and a hallway. They range from a 15-cent children's tale to a $2,750 set of "Interactions of Color" by Josef Albers. There is a large collection of California history, a California fine press collection and sections on everything from travel to biography, sports to philosophy. Prints are mostly 17th- through 20th-Century lithographs and woodblocks, many by old masters, including an occasional Rembrandt. Chic Goldsmid, a former sociology professor at Pomona and Pitzer colleges, handles the books. Frank Ellsworth, president of Pitzer, is in charge of prints. And Frances McConnel, former professor of English at Scripps and Harvey Mudd colleges, writes her novel in the mornings and clerks in this store in the afternoons. The intellectualism of the owners and workers combines with the stock of books and prints to create a delightfully unpretentious, bookish atmosphere that is very rare.
O. Bud's Bicycle Shop, 217 West 1st St., (714) 621-5827, Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Customers come from as far away as San Diego and Santa Barbara for Santana tandems made by Bud's, for professional racing bikes that cost between $400 and $3,000 or to buy an exotic part like a titanium pedal or gold-plated toe clip. And kids come in from down the street to buy an inner tube, a spare part or an everyday bicycle, says Bud's manager Miles A. Rank, who watches over this extraordinarily complete bicycle store owned by Claremont City Councilman Bill McCready. "We help everyone from the tourist who wants to rent a bike for $6 a day (or $15 a week) to the triathlete who needs a performance bike to the collector who collects bikes as an art form for a hobby," Rank says.
P. Shrimps, 211 West 1st St., (714) 625-4536, Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Pam Nagler, co-owner of this 200-square-foot store, says it got its name from its size. She describes Shrimps as "a New Wave store for Claremont, but for the rest of the world it's casual contemporary." The store sells dresses, pants, jackets, shirts and T-shirts, some handmade locally, others from Japan, Israel, Africa, France and Italy. There also is a selection of belts, scarfs and jewelry.
Q. Boon Companion, 250 West 1st St., Suite 146, (714) 625-1993, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. "In July of '83, I was a loan officer at a savings & loan company, but I didn't want to do that kind of work all my life," Nancy Johnson says. So Johnson opened this toy store, with some unusual items like hand-crafted puzzles, European games and toys, miniature British soldiers and knights in armor, German dolls and a moderately sized but carefully selected collection of children's books. Among the more unusual goods, one will find some of the typical toy-store fare.