Claremont Insider: Put a Fork in Them (!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Put a Fork in Them (!)

Like a lot of folks in town, we've been wondering what happened to The Forks Chop House. The overpriced eatery located in Unit 7 of the Claremont Packing House has been closed since the December 17, 2008, fire that gutted the kitchen and a stairwell. Ever since, the restaurant's management has been promising that they would reopen, but the place just sat there.

We tried checking The Forks' website, but that is no longer working. That was our first clue as to an official demise. We didn't have to search very hard to discover what had happened. The Packing House website's business directory told us that Unit 7 has a new tenant coming in the Winter of 2010:

Eureka!Burger currently has just one location (in Redlands), and their website informs us that they're supposed to open another in Fresno some time this month. There's a menu posted online that, among other things, has exhausted the company's exclamation point allotment for the next decade. They serve craft brews and upscale Angus beef burgers, as well as sandwiches and salads. The burgers are all around eight or nine bucks and include fries.

We couldn't help thinking that this is just what our town of 35,000 people needs - yet another place to get a beer and a burger. Burger bars in Claremont have suddenly become the equivalent of hair salons. Lookout, Back Abbey and Burger Bar.

A one-minute walk from the Packing House to the Village Expansion will be all that separates the Eureka from Back Abbey. We're anxious to see how those two higher end establishments compare. Eureka!Burger's fare looks good, and, if you include a soft drink with your burger and fries, that's all probably about $10 cheaper than the same order at Back Abbey, though the twice-fried pommes frites at Back Abbey are probably going to be a couple orders of magnitude up from Eureka!Burger's. On the other hand, the burgers may be better at the new place.

By the way, we thought we had a real scoop with this stuff, but we just now checked City Manager Jeff Parker's latest weekly report and learned that Parker beat us by one day:

EUREKA BURGER The City has recruited a new restaurant (Eureka Burger) to fill the former Three Forks location on the west end of the Packing House. The new restaurant is described as an authentic one-of-a-kind burger bar experience, serving a wide selection of Angus beef burgers, gourmet tossed salads, signature hand cut fries, and a distinctive assortment of craft beers and wine. For more information, see their website at

Looks like Parker cheated the new Packing House tenants out of an exclamation point or two.

It's a shame The Forks didn't make it, but they might not have survived the Great Recession anyway. We don't know how well The Forks was doing before the fire. When it first opened, the joint seemed crowded for dinner. Their business was no doubt aided by a glowing review from S. Irene Virbila in the Los Angeles Times review of the place.

We came across a lawsuit filed in LA County Superior Court by one of The Fork's suppliers, Premier Meat Co, a subsidiary of the Wayne Distribution Center. The defendants were Bollicorp LLC dba Three Forks Chop House aka The Forks and Mark Bollinger, along with a DOE or two. The plaintiffs sought $25,953.29 - the unpaid amount the plaintiff claimed was owed on a Forks account with Premier Meat Co.

The suit was filed on 11/25/08, about three weeks before the fire, so it's possible that business was slowing even before the fire occurred. A default judgment in the matter was entered on 5/9/09, and the plaintiff filed a satisfaction of judgment on 11/23/09.

To indulge the prying eyes among us, we dispatched the Insider Copy Service to downtown LA and got the actual filing. Here's the complaint: