The Downtown Report: Mid-December Edition

Playing The Detective: Searching for what became of old local taverns

Reviewing a previously-discovered list (below) triggered an interesting series of new discoveries.  If you read over this list, you may recognize some of the names from the past. Perhaps you even have a story or two or know what year this list may have been put together, but so far, no luck on tracking that down. The best guess from those I spoke to on my tour is some time in the 60s.

Of all the Fullerton locations visited, only two remain ‘Taverns.’ Some may be recalled fondly; some may not be missed. Of course, there is sentiment that we have too many bars, or taverns, so it was surprising to see what a transformation has occurred over the past few decades, and how few of those early watering holes actually survived the years.

The “Tro”

This is the only one I have first-hand knowledge of. A few miles west of where I concentrate my efforts for our Downtown Report, the Tropics Lounge at 1842 W Commonwealth was the place to go for employees of the massive Hughes Aircraft plant in the 1980s. The pool table was anything but level and had a rip in the felt, the booths were once fully covered in Naugahyde, but much of that was gone, and pretty much everything showed signs of wear. When the place changed hands and the new owner told the regulars he was going to fix the place up, they told him they were the ones who did the damage and they liked it just fine the way it was. It remained the same but is still standing there, shuttered, despite the eerie warning you see here.

The Party House at 405 E Commonwealth is now a hair salon. If you are in need of cleaning services, head over to 530 W Commonwealth where the Snug Harbor was. That name sounds a bit familiar as does The New Silver Dollar at 1521 W Commonwealth, which became Kruger Litho for many years. The print shop is also long gone but it appears that someone may be taking over the space soon.  Why so many places on West Commonwealth back then? And why did they all go away? Not finding a lot of clues but, Cheri Lustre has been replaced by a large building with many tenants, so some of it had to do with renovations and expansions, likely due to properties changing hands.

This housing complex was formerly a tavern called Cheri Lustre.

The Wood Shed is now a donut shop, The Trail hit the trail and now appears to be Mi Vida Loca, but nobody was around to fill me in on the details. The Reef is now a Laundromat and there is no sign of Happy Chaps. That address is actually where Fullerton Ford is, so maybe the address given was incorrect. Many of you have been to The Brick Basement at 113 North Harbor, formerly The Red Garter.

Top Donuts (formerly Wood Shed tavern).

Progresso Barra is now The Continental Room. Wonder how all those La Habra locations fared? And why is El Sombrero not on the list?  Maybe it’s time to look back at other businesses from the past and see what they are now—places like The Pillory Department Store, Gifford’s Stationery, The Turntable, Melody Inn, Steele’s Café. If you have a connection to any of these, drop me an email.

Brick Basement (formerly Red Garter tavern).

New In Town

Not one, but two (count ‘em, two) new eating establishments are coming to SoCo. The former site of a roofing company and a Jeep conversion center will become Lagos Mexican Cuisine and Rio Do Brasil, a Brazilian Steak House. From the looks of the renderings seen here on banners posted at the sites, the new structures will also add architectural diversity to SoCo. We will keep you updated as always. Optima Salon Suites is coming soon, just a few doors down from Cupid’s Hot Dogs on the 100 North Harbor block. Temporary construction plywood was covering the address, but you will find it when the time comes.

Photo Quiz

Yes, that’s 1963 FJC and the still-missing Hornet statue, but the hair is not a beehive. What was that style called? Send answer to Mike at

2 replies »

  1. So many things have changed. Time just keeps marching on!. Thanks for a great report!