Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California
Tribute by Jeffrey Sward
 
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Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward Summit Inn Cafe, Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California photograhph by Jeffrey Sward
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Destroyed by Blue Cut Brush fire in August 2016. Pending rebuild.

Immediately off the Oak Hill exit of Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass, Oak Hills, California, is the indomitable Summit Inn Cafe. Steeped in history, the Summit Inn Cafe has been providing an archetypal road food experience for many years. Good food and a friendly staff punctuate the vintage decor. Although ostrich burgers are featured, the highlight of the menu is the cobbler. Apparently making cobbler is chef option. As of November 2009, cobbler is rarely being made as the current chef declines to make it. The next best dessert is the strawberry short cake, ordered a la mode.

An incredible view of the site occurs when traveling up the mountain from the Victorville side. The large Summit Inn sign flashes in neon. A spectacular roadside moment.

The Summit Inn Cafe is located on a minuscule remnant of the original Route 66. Most of the original Route 66 have been overlaid by the interstate in the immediate vicinity. Going northeast, the original Route 66 can be found starting again on "D" street in Victorville, running through Helendale and ending in Barstow. Going southwest, the next section of the original Route 66 runs starts at the Cleghorn exit of Interstate 15 and runs to Devore and eventually to Foothill Boulevard.

The Summit Inn at the present location has been in operation since 1952. The original owner was Burt Riley who operated the Summit Inn between 1952 and 1966. Cecil Stevens owned and operated the Summit Inn between 1966 sand 2016. The Summit Inn was acquired by Katherine JuarezĀ  and Otto Recinos in June 2016. The new owner announced restoration plans.

Sadly, the Summit Inn Cafe was destroyed by the Blue Cut brush fire on Aug 16, 2016. The current owners plant to rebuild. As of 2019 reconstruction has not yet begun. The only artificant remaining is the the lower of the two neon signs.

The following status update was posted June 22, 2020 on the Summit Inn Facebook page by RDA Architect Engineering Service:

Three years ago and within months of purchasing the property, the Blue Cut Brush Fire torched much including the new owner's dream of maintaining and expanding the cultural icon at the Pass. While some insurance money was in place, it proved inadequate for clean up alone which included hazardous material abatement. We are told $250K for cleanup. The owner was obligated to clean up what was a public safety issue and he did. Over the last 3 years, other positive steps have occurred including purchasing of the adjacent 1.5 acre parcel to south of Summit Cafe property, making it a potential 3 acre build-able parcel. Prior to Covid 19 and the mystifying year of 2020, we were designing a large 9,000 square foot tribute restaurant for this property, with outdoor terrace, bar, dance floor and route 66 themed restaurant and cultural shops, all with tuck under parking to conform to the mountain grades. An electric charging station and waste water treatment plant is part of the equation, as septic tanks on limited acreage (particularly for high waste generators like restaurants) are not permitted under todays state waste water laws. Many investors have reviewed this property with current ownership and offered their 3 cents, but never bought in. As of this writing, we are told new investors are interested in re building a replica of the Summit Cafe with a Farmers Market to the south side. Actually, a great idea. We are told the former gas station parcel to the north is also interested in seeing the Cafe return. We were told last week, that the 'Summit Sign" was a loss due to vandalism or artificial erosion. Like everyone in the High Desert and beyond, we remain hopeful that financial stability finds its way to the property, which is perhaps the most unique parcel in the High Desert. The terrain, its adjacency to forest and Interstate 15, the lack of utility infrastructure in the vicinity, CEQA considerations, Mariposa Rd widening , etc. make this no cheap buy in. That said, any investors who get past first costs, will enjoy a constant flow of locals and travelers for their benefit and maybe more importantly to some, this regions benefit. Just thoughts.

Aditional research has indicated that both commerical and residental septic tanks are permitted in California. There may be specific requirements for new septic tanks.

Visit a travel reference to Summit Inn Cafe.

Visit the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville when in the Cajon Pass area.

 

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