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Club Cafe - Santa Rosa, NM

The Club Cafe

When Phillip Craig and Floyd Shaw opened their Club Cafe on US Route 66 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico in 1935, the road ran right through the heart Santa Rosa

Club Cafe with Blue Tile Facade
heading on toward Santa Fe before continuing to Albuquerque. Route 66 had been completed through Santa Rose five years earlier and the town was growing rapidly.

The two friends saw opportunity in the thousands of travelers driving through every year.

Club Cafe Smiling Fat Man Sign
The Club Cafe, known for it home cooking, sourdough biscuits, and Mexican blue corn tortillas, was even better known for its Smiling Fat Man sign, the round painted image of a portly gentleman in  a polka dot tie, smiling with satisfaction after a Club Cafe home cooked meal.

The sign appeared not only on the Club Cafe, but also on a progression of highway billboards, familiarizing generations of Route 66 travelers with the Santa Rosa institution even if they did not stop to sample the fare. But many did stop.

For the next 55 years, the Club Cafe served biscuits, burgers and pinto beans to locals and cross country travelers alike.

When Intestate 40 opened through Santa Rosa in 1972, the city fared better than many old Route 66 towns; they had an off ramp.Still an oasis on a long stretch of desert road, Santa Rosa continued to draw interstate travelers seeking food, fuel and lodging, but without the guaranteed traffic flow of years past, many classic Route 66 establishments where closed and shuttered.

The Club Cafe however, survived when Ron Chavez took over the Club Cafe, adding a souvenir and curio shop carrying Route 66 and Club Cafe memorabilia.

An Abandoned Club Cafe in 2007
With the renewed interest in Historic Route 66 in the late 1980's and early 1990's it looked as if the Club Cafe might turn back the clock and ride the resurgence. 

It was not to be. The Club Cafe closed its doors in August 1992, another victim of society's ever decreasing attention span and cookie cutter fast food restaurants at every off ramp.


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