So there I was in the Claremont Village, endeavoring to get my romance groove on, which for me had sort of stalled at A. Kline Chocolatiers (210 W. Second St., 909.626.6646), wondering whether a handful of sour smoochie lips would do the trick. Likely not, the owner Dawn Campbell told me. Better to choose a heart-shaped variety pack of homemade hand-dipped confections, complete with a bonus white chocolate angel. Which begged the question, where to go for the port wine to sip while nibbling on the sweets?
Overhearing my query, a woman in a blue jacket told me that there was only one choice—The Wine Merchant (540 W. 1st St., first floor of the Packing House, 909.445.9463) over at the Packing House. “It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m there every Friday night.” Indeed, when I arrived at The Wine Merchant, it was jumping with mid-afternoon weekend imbibers, many of whom were regulars. Owner Sal Medina helpfully recommended the Otima 20 year Tawny Port or Dow’s Traditional Port; if that is the direction you want to go. Otherwise you have well over a hundred wines to tickle your palette at The Wine Merchant.
At a nearby table a local artist sat with her friends, and they had questions for me. Previously I had stopped in The Diamond Center (147 Yale Ave., 909.399.9133) and marveled at its exclusive Hearts on Fire collection and their gemstone laden Love Beads. The ladies seemed nonplussed with this, pointing out that Finecrest Jewelers (307 Yale Ave.) down the street was just as worthy of my attention. Fine, I told them. Certainly the Village could accommodate more than one independently owned precious stone dealer. In fact, if you can’t find an outlet for your romantic notions in the Village, you’re simply not trying.
Chamber of Commerce signs posted about town list well over one hundred shops and restaurants crying out for your business, all crammed together like a hopping Friday night at the Press. You want sexy PJ’s? Jasmine (217 W. 2nd St., 909.625.1259) has them. Passionate collectibles? Try Barbara Cheatley Antiques (215 Yale Ave., 909.621.4161) or Three French Hens (141 Yale Ave., 909.398.1004). Sultry Belly Dancing? Shake it on over to Casablanca (500 W First St., first floor of the Packing House, 909.626.5200). Good lovin’ gone bad? There are a few lawyers in town, too. Romantics won’t go hungry in the Village, with its limitless alternatives, perhaps the most aesthetically amorous being Tutti Mangia Italian Grill (102 Harvard Ave., 909.625.4669) and Viva Madrid (225-B Yale Ave., inside the mini-mall, 909.624.5500). Of course, there are some of us for whom romance would be better practiced on a more Spartan level, with no precipitous drop-off in ardor. So, for the low-budget romantic, there is this: start the day at Some Crust Bakery (119 Yale Ave., 909.621.9772), drinking a strong cup of coffee, nosh on a Denver omelette at the Village Grill (148 Yale Ave., 909.626.8813), then mosey down to Video Paradiso (330 W. Bonita Ave., 909.626.1171), rent Casablanca and Kill Bill Part 2 and cuddle up with your honey, leaving the rest of the day for something a little more private. Then spend the rainy day money on chocolate fondue and jazz at the Hip Kitty (502 W. 1st St, first floor of the Packing House, 909.447.6700). How much more romance do you need?