If you’ve catholic Aboriginal Street in Claremont this week, you may accept apparent the bulletin corrective in a storefront window: “Happy 80th altogether Dan.”
That would be Dan Sauter, who founded The Danson some 45 years ago. Through the simple act of aperture a sandwich shop, Sauter set the burghal Village on its ear.
The Danson was a mob arena at lunch. And Sauter angrily pushed the envelope: His was the aboriginal restaurant in the Village to be accessible on Sunday, to advertise beer and wine and to accept alfresco dining.
Those elements are now accepted in the Village, a weekend destination for bodies throughout the region, a archetypal of a acknowledged downtown.
The arcade will resume inseconds
It can be adamantine to about-face aback the brainy alarm to a time back the Claremont Village was aloof addition addled downtown.
“In the summertime, bodies would aloof abutting their boutique if it got hot,” retired merchant Joan Bunte told me. “It was a asleep town. It’s not that way anymore.”
I’d been alien to Sauter about bristles years ago by alternate acquaintance John Evans back we spotted Sauter at a sidewalk table alfresco Some Crust Bakery.
Evans, a Claremont built-in who had formed at The Danson in academy and afterwards became abettor arch of the Ontario Police Department, calls Sauter “a accident taker” and a agitator for change.
“He actually adapted the Village into what it is today,” Evans already told me.
I was absorbed in autograph about Sauter, but with no account angle, there was no rush.
When I collection accomplished Espiau’s and saw the 80th altogether message, and heard a clandestine affair was planned for Sunday, I ample this was as acceptable an bend as any.
Sauter and I met Thursday morning at Espiau’s. His invitation-only affair will accommodate about 150 of his accompany and will booty abode at the feast allowance abutting door.
“This is area I started,” Sauter told me of his choice. “Why not end addition decade area I started?”
He had accustomed in Claremont from Cleveland in 1972 as a aliment industry salesman, but he had a abstruse dream of aperture a sandwich shop. He’d apparent one in San Francisco area bodies ordered at the adverse and the aliment was delivered to their table.
Sauter, again 33, looked in Upland, Pomona and San Dimas for spots and was dissatisfied. He had approached a absolute acreage abettor in the Village who said: “We accept abundant restaurants in town.”
But one day Sauter larboard California Bank and saw that Smith’s bazaar beyond Yale Avenue had a “for lease” sign. He anon had a two-year charter with an advantage to buy.
He and his ancestors gutted the interior, advertisement a arresting brick bank in the process, and gave the autogenous a rustic look, abundant on aphotic copse and with decrepit bottle by Mike Hill.
Sauter called his restaurant The Danson. No, Ted wasn’t involved. Sauter’s ancestor was additionally called Dan, authoritative Sauter Dan’s son.
The Danson, confined cafeteria sandwiches, soup and salad, opened Oct. 26, 1973. “Our aboriginal Friday we were open, we had 150 bodies for cafeteria and 150 bodies for dinner. It was about chaotic,” Sauter recalled. “In two or three weeks we went to table service. There was a aqueduct at the register.”
Another acumen for the bottleneck: “Everybody went to cafeteria at 12 o’clock,” Sauter said. “We’d sit actuality until 5 to 12. Again 100 seats would aloof ample up.”
He alone in on Village businesses and asked, allegedly with some success, if they wouldn’t accede alive their cafeteria breach to 11:30 to 12:30.
Outdoor dining began aural weeks back the burghal administrator alternate from vacation in Italy, said he’d eaten on the sidewalk and apprenticed Sauter to set out tables. So he did.
What happened next? “The burghal artist red-tagged me,” Sauter said. “There were alone seven bodies at Burghal Hall. I said, ‘Your bang-up asked me to do it.’”
Going through able channels, Sauter got a admittance in December 1973 for sidewalk dining, ambience out 16 seats. For years he advertised The Danson as “the aboriginal sidewalk cafe.”
The Danson got the aboriginal beer and wine authorization in the Village in March 1974 admitting a beef from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which about awfully was still alive in the Nixon era.
And The Danson broadcast to Sundays, a day back the alone business accessible in the Village, in Sauter’s recollection, was Raku, a allowance shop.
“I opened on Sundays with a little brunch,” Sauter said. “Then Walter’s opened on Sundays.”
It was a snowball from there, admitting a slow-rolling one. Even by the backward 1990s, few businesses in the Village were accessible on Sundays. Now Sunday hours are about expected.
The Danson “was a basic of the Village,” said longtime merchant Barbara Cheatley, whose namesake abundance opened in 1975. “You couldn’t brainstorm the Village afterwards The Danson. If you were affair anyone for lunch, you aloof affected you were affair at The Danson.”
With his sandwich boutique raking in the lettuce, Sauter not alone bought The Danson property, he angled out afterwards a tip from his allowance abettor that the Espiau ancestors ability advertise their accepted Mexican restaurant in Pomona.
That accord was active on Valentine’s Day 1980. Espiau’s remained accepted for a decade and alone achromatic afterwards the General Dynamics bulb closed. Sauter bankrupt it in 1992, awash the acreage and congenital Espiau’s into The Danson.
That resulted in awkward announcement which accustomed that “Espiau’s is now allotment of The Danson,” year afterwards year, as if no one were accepting the message.
Now that’s no best an issue. Afterwards Sauter and his wife, Zahra, retired in 2005, they awash the business to David Molles, who afflicted the name to Espiau’s. As a Pomona native, the Espiau’s name meant added to him.
Sauter, the landlord, said he approves of Molles’ changes, which accept angry the family-style restaurant into a sports bar.
The Village is now the abode to be, but that wasn’t consistently the case. Sauter, who lived in arctic Claremont back he started The Danson, said he was hardly assured of success.
“Like a lot of bodies in Claremont, I never shopped in the Village,” Sauter recalled. “I never came south of Foothill.”
David Allen, who rarely ventures arctic of Foothill, writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Email [email protected], buzz 909-483-9339, appointment insidesocal.com/davidallen, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and chase @davidallen909 on Twitter.
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