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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE
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Bits and Pieces of the Old Days

At Orange Plaza, See (and Buy) Relics Rescued From Demolition

March 25, 2001|PHIL DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Some folks don't like old stuff. Some folks do. Tony Deleo makes his living in the dusty, and often rusty, middle ground. People come from around the country to browse the sprawling collection of rescued doors, stained-glass windows, fireplace mantles and authentic antique hardware at Tony's Architectural Salvage, just off the traffic circle in downtown Orange.

The Orange Plaza Historic District draws throngs of shoppers with its retro vibe and eclectic collection of antique shops. It's easy to miss Tony's place, an intriguing surprise that rewards those who stray off the beaten path.

There's good food on the fringe, too. While the circle offers many excellent dining choices, the giant eclairs and fresh-baked apple caramel walnut pie are well worth the one block walk to the Filling Station.

Window Shopping

Be prepared to spend an hour or more prowling the dusty remnants of great buildings at Tony's Architectural Salvage (123 N. Olive St., [714] 538-1900; open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays).

Even that won't be enough time. A mind-numbing collection of salvaged goods is stuffed into two squat, brick warehouses tucked behind George II antiques, 114 N. Glassell St.

You can get to Tony's through the back door at George II's or through the front door on Olive Street. Deleo has amassed an impressive variety of stained glass with prices ranging from $185 for a tiny foot-long accent window from an old Victorian house to more than $7,000 for a glorious 8-foot window plucked from a church.

On one wall there's an Art-Deco elevator dial ($225). Down the aisle there's an original copper-top street lamp that's still in great shape after decades of service ($3,395). The San Francisco side-load tubs cost $4,000 each. A more modest model in fair shape costs $400.

He's got hundreds of doors of all shapes and sizes--from bronze church doors ($2,000) to a curved glass door straight out of a Bogart detective movie ($1,195). Sadly, this one bears the painted name of a lawyer, not a private detective.

There are cast-iron gates and fencing, marble fireplace mantles and endless collections of antique hardware and fixtures. It's almost too much to take in.

And it's all got potential. Check out the front of George II antiques to see how great a salvaged facade can clean up. The past doesn't come cheap. An entire 19th-century room from France--complete with curved ceilings and elaborate gilded accents--costs $50,000. And on the cheap end, old hardware can cost $5 to $50 for a minor piece.

"Everything's negotiable," Deleo said. "It's all nice and easy. I don't mark it up 50 times like they do on Melrose. I get the $5 bill and the $10,000 bill because not everyone is a high roller. People are happy to give me their money."

Even if you're on a tight budget, Tony's is a great place to browse and daydream about soaking in a deep, solid granite tub ($5,900) while watching sunlight filter through stained glass ($1,500). And the neighbors are sure to be impressed by the brass doors from a Texas church that replaced the Home Depot special that used to be your front door.

Fill Up

Bring an appetite to the Filling Station Cafe (201 N. Glassell St., [714] 289-9714; open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday) because this place lives up to its name. The portions are big enough to make even a country grandmother wince.

The restaurant maintains the area's retro feel with classic 1920s booths, historic photos on the walls and Sinatra on the stereo. Owners John Hughes and Hyun-Sook Chung recently installed an antique gas pump on the patio to revive the building's service station roots. The restaurant-coffee shop has been open only a little over a year, but already it's frequently packed for breakfast and lunch--no small feat considering the plethora of good dining at established restaurants on the circle. Locals line up for fresh-brewed coffee each morning before Hughes opens the doors at 7 a.m.

For breakfast, the Filling Station serves up everything from a relatively healthy tomato, spinach and feta cheese omelet ($6.95) to a decadent Belgian waffle topped with fresh strawberries or bananas ($5.95). Try the cornmeal pancakes ($4.95) for a uniquely textured twist on a familiar favorite.

Lunch and dinner are casual with a selection ranging from an entree-sized mixed salad of cucumbers, lettuce, red onion, tomato, kalamata olives with balsamic vinaigrette dressing ($4.95) to the hefty Filling Station Special, a half-pound burger topped with bacon, avocado and double cheese ($6.50).

Save room for dessert. Co-owner Hyun-Sook Chung bakes fresh pastries every morning. Her specialties include a chocolate eclair that's just about as big as a brick ($3.75) and a caramel apple walnut pie ($18 a pie, $3.75 a slice). "She makes a pecan pie that people from Georgia don't believe," Hughes said.

IF YOU GO

* Getting There

Exit the Garden Grove Freeway at Grand Avenue. Go north. Grand becomes Glassell Street. The circle is about a mile north on Glassell.

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