Claremont business wrap-up

The past year has seen significant changes in Claremont’s business scene. A number of places have closed their doors including Casa del Salsa, a Mexican restaurant that graced the Claremont Schoolhouse property for more than a decade.

Owners Roberto and Judy Flores said goodbye to customers in November of 2014, after the property owner refused to renew their lease. The Floreses say they hope to open another restaurant in Claremont. Meanwhile, those fond of Michael Ryan’s live music performances at the Casa can catch the local guitarist on Wednesday evenings, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Walter’s restaurant.

Claremont also lost the Peruvian restaurant Inka Trails, which for 15 years drew foodies to its Foothill Boulevard location. The owners are still busy serving up South American cuisine at their La Verne eatery, Caral Peruvian Grill, including catering. The Claremont site (1077 W Foothill Blvd.) is now home to Jeni Wren’s Café.

Another Foothill Boulevard restaurant Sushi Cruise, which was situated in a boat-shaped building, has also closed its doors. But that’s not the end of the restaurant reductions.

The Pita Pit, located on Indian Hill in the Village West, closed and has been replaced by a new Indian restaurant called Tikka, specializing in commuter-friendly fare such as wraps and curry bowls. The owners of Tikka, Ray Malik and Rafi Kahn, formerly ran a Fatburger in Temecula. They are now betting on Claremont and doubling down, with plans to open a custom-made pizza restaurant called Pie Street, right next to Pita Pit in a couple of weeks.

In a city that has long discouraged fast food restaurants, the Burger King on Indian Hill Boulevard has long been a mecca for those looking to stave off the munchies. The King is dead, having recently shut its doors. Softening the blow is the fact a Popeye’s chicken restaurant has taken its place.


Changes in retail

The yarn store Colors 91711, which was located in the freestanding brick building on the corner of Harrison and Bonita Avenues, closed on January 12. The shop’s neighboring business Rio de Ojas, a gift shop specializing in Mexican folk art, has moved into the unoccupied space, adding 600 square feet to the 900 square feet in which owners Ray and Terri Riojas were previously operating. Crimson Cottage, a boutique located in the Old School House complex, is currently in the process of closing.

The Victorious Gallery tattoo parlor said goodbye to the City of Trees only a few months after setting up shop in the Claremont Business Park in July. The Zoom Room, a business specializing in dog training in the Old School House, also closed after a short run.


Claremont popular destination

As the saying goes, when a door closes, a window opens. A number of new establishments have hung out a shingle in Claremont, including two side-by-side shops in the Village West area, the music-themed clothing boutique Playlist Clothing and the Stix Rideshop. They are located at 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

Longtime friends Melissa Robles and Wendy Shay opened Playlist Clothing on June 28 with the aim of demonstrating how music inspires fashion and vice versa.

“You can make a playlist to match whatever your mood may be and that is similar to how you dress and style yourself for the day,” Ms. Robles said. “You may be feeling like downtown girl one day, a rocker chick another day and a bohemian girl another day.”

Music is in evidence everywhere in the store, from the record albums that line the walls to clothing inspired by musicians. Current merchandise includes shirts celebrating musicians like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Simon and Garfunkel for men and women and T-shirts for children saluting performers like Nirvana and Johnny Cash.

Stix Rideshop owners George Khoury and Bill Farber already had a location in Monrovia when they decided to test the waters of Claremont. Claremont has a skatepark, and a long tradition of producing top-level skaters, yet it hasn’t had its own skate shop, so this was a natural move.

The store already has a regular in the form of Anthony Ortiz, an El Roble seventh grader who stopped in to pick up a cool beanie.

“I like to come in here and look around,” he said, and adds a bit of advice to kids looking to try skateboarding for the first time. “It’s not that hard.”

Stix is crammed with the brands of shoes and clothes skaters tend to favor, including Vans, Thrasher and Creature. Brands of skateboards and decks—many in the $40 range—carried by Stix include Toy Machine, Baker, Habitat and Girl.

Paint and Paddles is another Claremont newcomer, a do-it-yourself haven where customers can have their furniture restored by experts or learn to restore it themselves at workshops. The store is located at 218 W. Foothill Blvd. next to the Ivy House.

Sanamluong Thai Cuisine just moved into town, migrating from Indian Hill Boulevard in Pomona to 710 S. Indian Hill Boulevard in Claremont. Augie’s Coffee House and the á la minute ice creamery have set up shop in the same space at the Claremont Packing House.

Anyone familiar with the City of Trees knows it could easily be called the city of spas, because Claremont is a hotspot for salons and wellness-oriented businesses.

The city recently issued a moratorium on the establishment of new massage parlors in Claremont while city staff reviews rules dealing with such businesses. A draft ordinance is expected to go before the planning commission in March. The city has also leveled another moratorium on the opening of new hair salons on any street-level building in the Claremont Village. The latter action was taken due to what is viewed as an over-saturation of salons in the area.  

Nevertheless, health- and beauty-oriented boutiques were a large part of last year’s business boom. Claremont Wellness Spa, located at 689 W. Foothill Blvd., Suite D., is now providing specialized skin care. Another newcomer that opened last summer is Ilo Collective, a modern apothecary.

Ilo (101 N. Indian Hill Blvd.) specializes in skin and hair care products, cosmetics and scents crafted with an eye on substituting organic ingredients for harmful chemicals and on high performance. The shop stocks an array of internationally-known apothecary brands like the RMS Beauty cosmetic line, and locally crafted wares like Asian-inspired soaps by Unearth Malee, which are produced in Claremont.

This is just a partial representation on the Claremont businesses that have come and done in recent months. Look for more stories on Claremont’s bustling business scene in future editions of the COURIER.

—Sarah Torribio


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