|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
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