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Old Town Renaissance

909 Magazine

Old Town La Verne has come a long way in recent years and may be in the midst of a renaissance period, especially with its downtown restaurants. Each one is mom-and-pop owned and has revenue that has grown from $3.8 million to $7.5 million from 2011 to 2014. Old Town La Verne continues to be a destination in and of itself, and this summer it looks to remain a popular place to dine and to enjoy nightlife in a safe community.

Old Town La Verne a five-block area roughly one-half mile south of Foothill Boulevard, adjacent to the University of La Verne. Popular restaurants include Café Allegro and many more, such as 4th Street Mill, Chase’s Restaurant, Pappa’s Artisanal, Warehouse Pizza, House of Wings, Lordsburg Taphouse and Grill, Argo Mediterranean, Roberta’s Village Inn, Aoki Japanese Restaurant and The Bowl House. Two additional restaurants tentatively planned to open this year include a Chinese tea house and an American dinner house restaurant. Most of these restaurants also feature patio or sidewalk dining.

“Claremont and Pasadena historically have been destinations to go to for nice restaurants,” said Chairman Craig Walters of the Old Town La Verne Business Improvement District.  “Now that is changing as people are finding La Verne as an alternative.”

Even long-time residents are discovering Old Town La Verne’s restaurants. Walters said that typically people who live north of Foothill don’t cross south, and he said that 15-20 year residents are pleasantly surprised at what they are finding downtown.

Many people aside from residents and college students enjoy the area, including those from the business park near Brackett Airport. Walters said that many of these people look for nice places to have lunch.  Fairplex just blocks away also draws people to the area throughout the year with more than 300 annual events.

Old Town La Verne also has its own events. Its Certified Farmers Market features fine produces every Saturday morning. The area is known for its plentiful car shows with hundreds of classic cars, including the 20-year-old Cool Cruise, Cruisin’ La Verne and the NHRA Fanfest. There was also the popular wine walk in late April.

The downtown area has come a  long way. Thirty years ago, Walters said that in Old Town La Verne, the old joke, ”They roll up the sidewalks after 5 p.m.” was basically true. Right now, if you go downtown it’s becoming more difficult to find parking.

By August, Community Development Director Hal Frederickson expects ULV to open its 940-space parking structure, which will help ease downtown parking woes. Although the summer will see fewer students, the area will definitely stay as a popular location with plenty to look forward to.

“Something that we’ve heard from people going to the restaurants in La Verne is that this is a little less stressful of an environment to go and have a nice meal,” said Frederickson. “When school is out, things used to get sleepy here. A few years ago it was noted by a number of businesses and restaurants that that’s not the case. And I think a reason that’s not the case is that it is becoming its own destination for people who want to come and take advantage of those restaurants and other businesses too.”