Local News

The Downtown Report: January Edition

Mike Rice with CSUF Communications students. Photo by Davis Barber.

A Sad Loss

Suddenly, right at deadline for this page, Chris, Damion, and Davis were in the picture, and those three (some of Fullerton’s finest photographers) stepped up and that led to the unearthing of this amazing photo (above) of Mike Rice surrounded by CSUF Communications students when he spoke at a seminar in 2019. What a fitting tribute as we see the look in his eyes, as well as in the eyes of all those who heard him speak that day.

I met Mike Rice over 20 years ago when we were both sporting ponytails and he was opening what was then called “Fullerton Used Cameras.” The new shop was a compliment to Chris Beard’s place, Fullerton Photo, as together they gave photographers a place to get their film and processing plus a place to buy or rent cameras, lenses, and purchase a lot of other gear they needed. Mike later added services like the transfer of home movies to DVD, enlargements, scanning restoration, and more. Mike guided me through a series of cameras and lenses as the digital world emerged. Fellow photo nerds understand.

Sadly, Mike passed away unexpectedly a couple of months ago, and that was shocking and unbelievable. Word of his passing just recently got out and we all discovered the family had tried to hold on and keep the shop going, but it was too much without his guidance, so they decided to liquidate and close. The final sale was made on December 21 by one of Mike’s junior high school friends. Former employees of his came in to help. We will all miss you, Mike.

Renewal in Hillcrest

Instant ducks—just add fowl weather. Once known as the Lily Pond, our Duck Pond has been around since 1924 but unless you were here in the 1950s, you likely had never seen a duck there until the 2020 renovation was completed. We have been bombarded with much needed rainy days lately, finally, and although we have hills, we don’t have the elevation and steep terrain that forced evacuations elsewhere in Orange County. Having spent a lot of time in Silverado Canyon, it’s sad to see the damage heavy rain caused over a year after the fire created the mud and debris slide situation, but they are hearty folks up there, and all will be okay.

Things also got dicey in our mountains to the north when over 10 inches of rain fell in Forest Falls and other areas. Colder weather last week meant snow, which is, of course, a much better outcome no matter how much we need the rain.

When it melts, it will even continue to help get us low elevation dwellers relief from the drought. Percolate. So much water came through our duck pond that a lot of the debris that settled in there earlier has now been swept further downstream, some no doubt all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Do your best to keep your own stuff from flowing down.

New in Town

As expected, 525 Coffee Company has completed construction and a soft opening is now underway at 525 West Commonwealth. The former duplex now has a nice, open floor plan after removing walls and renovating the entire building.  Expect a full menu of coffee of course, a good assortment of teas and pastries, with more food options to come when the full kitchen goes online.

Optima Salon Suites is coming soon next to All Hallow’s Ink on North Harbor, and they are offering independent beauty professionals a dedicated space to service their clients.  World of Beer, as mentioned here in The Observer, seems to be moving on, so current tenants for the location on Harbor, Blanquel and Semilla, won’t soon be forced to hit the road. We shall see if anything further happens and let you know.


The marquee lights are back on and much of the Phase 1 structural work is complete, including the earthquake retrofitting, elevator shafts, concrete foundations, and carbon steel sprinkler systems. Phase 2 completion will allow the doors to be opened to the public for regular events starting next fall. Since the Fox was saved from the wrecking ball in 2005, we have all been hoping that day would come, and finally it appears to be within reach.

Photo Quiz

Vintage/new? Where is this located? Send answer to Mike at AllMedia@sbcglobal.net.

2 replies »

  1. Thanks Skip, I always appreciate a readers comments, so far, they have been good, ha

  2. 5 wonderful stories from reporter Mike Ritto! “All things must pass” as the future continues to creep up on us everyday. Thank you for your always great human interest look at evolving life in Fullerton,