Today was a big day in Downtown Claremont. The Packing House celebrated its Grand Opening today and boy was it a great event. Music, Food and Fun all combined to make this Grand Opening truly one to write home about.
The Packing House is one of Claremont’s landmarks having been built in 1916 as a cooperative venture by the Claremont Heights Orange and Lemon Association and in its heyday, or should I say in its first heyday it served as one of the places that sorted, graded, cleaned and shipped citrus fruit to market. The group that started this cooperative was used as the model for what became Sunkist.
The Packing House has found new life as a very unique combination art mall, museum, dining destination and living space. The businesses that have taken residence are as unique and diverse as the residents of the community that they serve.
Abodes & Beyond is a wonderful place to find unique and elegant home accents. Partners Oliver Channing and John Yao each have a wonderful eye for finding beautiful things. 909-621-2721 Fax: 909-624-0017
The Young Chefs Academy (which will be open for business in August) offers kids from 6 to 14 a chance to learn to cook in a safe and kid-friendly environment. Leslie Sassaman is the chef in charge. You can reach her for information on classes or the Chef’s Club at (909) 625-7505 or via email at email@example.com. Check out their website at www.YoungChefsAcademy.com/claremont
Studio Claremont is a great place to find all things glass bead and art supply. They also offer classes and have some wonderfully fanciful things for sale. Gabrielle Heide is the mastermind behind this wonderful shop and school. Get in touch with them at (909) 626-6137 and check out their website at www.studioclaremont.com
Replay Vintage is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. From the art on the walls to the books on the shelves to the clothes on the racks, everywhere you look you will find something different, fresh and exciting. Replay Vintage is on the first floor of the Packing House. (They are so new that I don’t have a phone number or web address from them yet, but I will publish it as soon as it is available.)
The Claremont Forum is a very different kind of business run a different kind of way for a different kind of purpose. The Claremont Forum is a nonprofit community center whose mission is to promote individual and social well-being through education, the arts and wellness programs. They run the Prison Library Project a program that has placed over 400,000 books free of charge in the hand of prisoners all across the country for the last twenty years. The Thoreau Bookstore is an honor system bookstore that helps to support their programs. Check out their website at www.claremontforum.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Claremont Museum of Art and the Museum Shop are the jewels in the Packing House restoration’s glittering crown. 7,400 square feet encompass exhibition space, the store, a sculpture garden, offices, and a storage room. The $3.00 admission for adults 18 and over (kids are free) is one of the best bargains around. For information on upcoming exhibits is available at their website: www.claremontmuseum.org
Climbing the stairs (there are elevators available as well, but I keep trying to tell myself exercise is a good thing) you will find one of the most unique features of this entire project. The art lofts are working art studios that double as homes for some of the artists.
Sara Rose Designs Floral Studio (909) 482-2000 or www.sararosedesigns.com is part elegant and charming flower shop, and part very busy floral studio.
The Studio Gallery is a working artist’s loft where the pieces displayed are also created. The two artists Yi Kai & Kenneth Johnson share the Studio and Gallery, Unit 209. Ken has a show up currently entitled “Spirit Traps.” His work is interesting and evocative. Yi Kai the other artist, allows his experiences as an artist growing up in China to inform his works. You can take a look at some of Yi Kai’s pieces at www.yikaistudio.com but the better way to appreciate both artists is to visit their studio.
Another artist who actually lives and works at her loft is Alison Petty. Alison is a mixed media ceramic artist who has a very original and free form style. Her pieces are fresh, flowing, fanciful and very different from anything I have ever seen before. Take a look at her website to see what I mean. www.alisonjpetty.com
Also upstairs is Phebie’s NeedleArt. Phebie Day Lozano is a well know teacher of needle arts including needlepoint & embroidery, beading, knit and crochet through the Claremont Adult School at the Joslyn Senior Center, (660 N. Mountain Avenue). She will be offering an even larger selection of classes at her new Packing House location. You can reach Phebie’s at (909) 624-5250, via her email at email@example.com or through her website www.phebies.com (Her website is currently under construction, but should be up and running soon.)
The last place that I visited is the Three Forks Chop House restaurant. Though it is not open yet, after seeing the sleek stainless wine fridges and the classic yet comfortable furnishings I expect great things from this eatery and from Executive Chef Eric Osley’s kitchen. Give them a call at (888) 9-3FORKS or check out their website at www.threeforkschops.com
This is only the first phase of the new Claremont Village Expansion. With more restaurants, shops and a five-screen movie theatre on their way, the Claremont Village Expansion is breathing new life into what is already a lively place. Come on down to the Packing House, you’ll be glad you did!
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