October 15, 2018

Farewell to The Golden Spur, A Route 66 Icon—Closed Upon Its Centennial

One of my favorite Route 66 restaurants in California closed over the weekend. And I didn't get the chance to go one last time and say goodbye.

The Golden Spur was one of the oldest restaurants in the entirety of LA County, having first opened in 1918 as a hamburger stand that you could ride your horse right up to.

Although the dirt road was eventually paved, and The Golden Spur transformed into a sit-down steakhouse with leather booths and dark lighting in the mid-1950s, it kept its cowboy feel—right down to its vintage neon sign,* which did what all good Route 66 neon signs do.

It attracted those who were driving by and could use a good meal.

One of those travelers was me back in 2012, when I was in Glendora for a tour of Rubel Castle. I'd heard about another landmark along Foothill Boulevard—the Donut Man, famous for its doughnuts exploding with fresh strawberries or peaches—but when I headed over there, I found myself far more interested in The Golden Spur.

I stopped in for a solo lunch in the dark, air conditioned dining room—escaping the July heat and sun of the San Gabriel Valley for an hour or two with my laptop in tow.

Glendora isn't a common destination for me per se, but in April of this year, I managed to convince myself it would be on the way home from Pomona after watching the horse show at the former Kellogg Ranch.

Something told me I had to go.

It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but I swung that heavy wooden door open with gusto, asked for a table for one, and ordered the prime rib special.

I drank about 47 glasses of Diet Coke.

And I lingered, though I was alone in there—save for the hostess up front, the bartender who doubled as my server, and the musician who was setting up for his show later that evening.

Circa 2010 (Photo by Chuck Coker via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

I soaked it in, not knowing that the ownership had changed—or that the new owner wasn't making enough money off the business.

I didn't know that in its 100th year in business, it would shutter forever with only a couple of days' notice—or that the circa 1930s building would be on the chopping block, cleared away for some new development.

It's a loss to the community and roadtrippers alike. But just as nobody rides their horses to dinner anymore and few bypass the 210 freeway to drive Route 66 instead, maybe a cowboy-themed steakhouse in a bedroom community between Los Angeles and the Inland Empire has become obsolete.

But I sure am sad to see it go.

*the neon was replaced with LED rope sometime in the past few years

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