Corona Eats

In the shy-of-a-decade I grew up in Corona I had my fair share of favorite food places and while some may seen run of the mill… some of these are no longer. But to me they’re history.

Miguel’s has been a staple in Corona since 1973 when it originated as a dine-in only restaurant, but it was two years later when they launched Miguel’s Jr. and it became a Crown Town favorite. The original restaurant later closed as Jr.’s became the happenin’ place. It was mere months after we moved to Corona that my dad discovered the place and their taquitos were an instant hit in our house. We’d go for dinners and bring it back home, but some of my best memories are the late Saturday morning runs. My Saturday morning cartoon line-up in the fall of ’84 consisted of The Snorks, The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks, and there’d be a lull right after, and that’s when my dad would fetch me and we’d hop in the car to Miguel’s drive-thru and bring it back… just in time for me to catch Pryor’s Place. Anytime I pull up an old clip of that show— I’m forever reminded of Miguel’s.

The original Miguel Jr.’s is still in the same location down on Sixth Street in Corona (1039 W 6th St. Corona, CA 92882), and it has since expanded into a huge chain of fourteen locations in Riverside and Orange Counties. They also have three additional dine-in only restaurants, and all seventeen spots are owned by the original family. Their corporate office is just below the 91 freeway in the east end of Corona.

Since we moved away in 1990, I have only visited Miguel’s once, as I am rarely ever in Corona, and it was at the original spot. I got a burrito and a couple taquitos and it was just like old times.

Now this place seemed like it lasted only a second in the lifetime of Corona dining. The graphic above is one I recreated, best from memory, for this post as it is 95% of what I remembered it to be. Prospectors Restaurant.

This was an isolated building that was out in the parking lot of a set of stores in downtown Corona. For all intents and purposes I seem to recall a Mervyn’s nearby (I could be wholly mistaken), and this restaurant always seemed like an “island” out in the middle of all that asphalt. Many a trip to the various stores in the daytime out there— you’d have to pass right by the front of Prospectors to go park. It always looked like an evening place as barely a soul would be seen entering or leaving while the sun was up. We went there the first time for one of my birthdays and we went a time or two again and I loved it. It was a nice little place that served your usual steakhouse fare and Americana-type meals. It was dimly lit and I recall the vivid darkened red carpeting. The sign for the place had a prospector panning for gold with water flowing from his pan with the name right below. It reminded me of the sign outside Cheers that jutted out from a similar black railing and was back-lit at night.

Then one day it was closed. No trace of anything else. When you Google Prospectors Restaurant for Corona, California you will not find not a scant piece, story or recollection of the place (besides this write-up by the time it’s picked up). The only thing I did locate was it’s former business license information as held by the California Secretary of State’s office. It showed it launched in 1986 and it was located at 784 N Main St, Corona, CA 92880. And even that took a few different search attempts.

I’m not sure what took it’s place in the immediate years after it closed, but it has since been a Jack in the Box. I can’t be the only (former) Coronian who remembers this place.

The Grinder was a very popular eatery that served up your proverbial 80s California dishes of the day— anything from burgers and fries on up to nice steaks with all the trimmings. We went for a birthday party in 1987 or 88 and I recall how packed the place was. It was another place we dined at a time or three, and I rather enjoyed it. Kid friendly while serving ages of all types. It was located at 402 S Main St, down in Corona Mall, which has since been replaced with my next entry below. Grinder apparently was a small chain and they still exist— albeit only in LA county now (Los Angeles & San Pedro).

Hunnys has been an institution in Corona for decades. It originated, as indicated above, right next to the Corona Library. Within the last decade it relocated over to the Grinder’s old digs and they now have two locations in town. The old place was classic and the inside never seemed to change— as if Keno’s and Denny’s got together and had a child— forever stuck on pause with 1983 decor.

As it was a place to cure teenage hangovers back in those days, I fondly recall the trips there for festive occasions. One Halloween night my cousins and I had dinner there, while still in costume, after we had completed trick-or-treating. It seemed no matter where we went that night, Monster Mash played continuously, and yes, when I hear the song… I harken back to Hunnys. Another memorable trip was with my aunt and uncle as we made it a breakfast stop early one morning before we headed out to the El Toro Air Show in 1987. Hunnys served, and still does, regular all-day breakfast fare with a variety of lunches and dinners. Definitely an old school spot.

I’ve only got two words about this place: treasure chest.

Cask ‘n Cleaver used to be in Corona, and it was a well-frequented steakhouse joint well before the crazes of Black Angus and Claim Jumper became mainstream. It was where a lot of couples would go to celebrate wedding anniversaries and birthdays. Though a mature place in all aspects, they had a tiny sliver saved just for kids. I don’t remember much about the meals, but the big surprise was always after dinner when my dad would be settling the check up at the register.

They had this really cool and rustic wooden treasure chest that was always popped open. It was lit from the inside and they gave away free trinkets to the kids. You got to pick just one and that was it. What made it more attractive was the fake shiny coins, beads and plastic jewels that merely served as window dressing with the toys laying atop it all. In the era of The Goonies— it was a huge hit.

I recently discovered that the Corona location was long ago closed, but the Cask is still around— in Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga and San Dimas.

It was located at 100 N Lincoln Ave., just off the 91 freeway. The building was torn down in the last several years, but thanks to archived Google Streetviewing— you can see it’s former glory with signage.

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