Mentone’s Gazebo Gazette
Most folks don’t have a clue as to what’s behind the front door to Frank’s Place. It’s not just a bar with a pool table, because it’s the place where the “wet burrito” was born. And, if you haven’t tried their “LOCO” burrito, you just haven’t lived. The “LOCO” is the specialty of the house, and it was concocted by Fran himself way back in 1972. Frank has gone home to glory, but turned the reigns over to his daughter, Sylvia Oshoa. She’s ran the place since 1994 (since no one else in the family wanted to). Sylvia chose to keep her Dad’s name on the business in his honor.
When Frank developed the “LOCO” burrito, quite a few other restauranteurs wanted the recipe. But Frank never wrote the recipe down as it was just too difficult to write down the measurements that consisted of a “pinch here” and a “dab of sauce” there.
So when you sit down to enjoy the “LOCO” you can bet that no one else has it on their menu. They serve some of the best traditional Mexican food in town. But if you’re salivating for a burger, try their cheeseburger, you won’t be sorry. No matter what you order, when you sit down to eat, ask Sylvia to share one of her “haunted ghost stories” with you. The place has a colorful history. The original building was built by a grocer named McKee.
When McKee retired he sold the building to Ed and Mary Pattison who completely revamped the building, added a liquor store on the east side and opened Ed and Mary’s Café. Mary Pattison was an outstanding cook and business boomed. When the Los Angeles Ram’s held their winter training sessions at the University of Redlands football field, Ed and Mary’s became their favorite eating place. Mary would invite the entire team up to her house for fried chicken dinners. Ed Pattison expanded the original building by razing the old post office building that was located in the rear of the present building. When they retired they sold the business to Frank Lopez in 1972.
It was a magnificent structure, and directly west of it, across Opal Avenue was the Santa Fe train station (pictured on the front of this publication). Notice the similarities in the buildings. It was built around 1900 as a hotel and many a weary traveler got off at the Santa Fe depot and walked across the street to the hotel. It was simply called “The Mentone”. However, despite some good and profitable times, The Mentone struggled to stay open.
“Consumption”, better known as Tubercle Bacillus (Tuberculosis) was claiming many lives in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s (194 out of every 100,000). Redlands had its deadly share. Redlands sent their tuberculosis patients down to a beleaguered and unhappy colony isolated in San Timoteo Canyon by the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. Trinity Episcopal Church in Redlands was a main financial support for the colony and called it “The Trinity Settlement”. The Redlands City Council voted to remove the settlement from the canyon and to forbid any such in their city limits.
Mentone was different. Trinity bought the hotel in Mentone and an additional 40 acres. They felt they could accommodate 500 patients immediately and eventually 1500 additional.
It came under management of a genial clergyman named Adolph R. Schultz who came to the area to find better health for his wife. He arrived in 1902 and handled the business for some of its better years, then closed, due to an uproar from Mentone’s healthier citizens. They protested that if the move to Mentone was a more sanitary solution, why not move it back to Redlands in the Smiley Library Park where it could do good for a greater number of people.
The county supervisors quickly adopted an ordinance forbidding any such institution within 1,320 feet of any open flume carrying domestic water, or within 2,650 feet of any school. The courts ruled the ordinance illegal and the settlement remained at Mentone, but the quarreling had alienated some of Trinity’s donors. Facing an unbalanced budget, and to avoid debt, Trinity turned the nursing over to the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas, which alienated ever more donors. Soon the settlement closed and the magnificent building was torn down in 1917.
The original location became many different businesses down through the years. McAndrew’s Fencing was located there in the late 1900’s for many years. Larry Jacinto owns it now and stores firewood on the property.
So, maybe Sylvia is correct in her thinking that Frank’s place and the surrounding area is haunted. Many a poor, suffering soul gave up the ghost in the sanatorium.
The newer post office had been built when Ed Pattison tore down the old one. The Mentone Post Office is still located where it was originally rebuilt, but has gone through extensive renovation since those early days.