On the intersection of the 15 and 395 freeways, the place the Cajon Move stretches out of the San Bernardino Mountains, stands a 62-year-old A-frame constructing with tattered picket shingles and vaguely nation and western accents. Lengthy rows of 18-wheeler vehicles are parked out again. Inside, leather-based cubicles line the partitions whereas worn turquoise seats body a gleaming wood-grained counter, with the aroma of frying oil and sizzling espresso wafting beneath the excessive wood-paneled ceilings. Wagon wheel lighting fixtures hover overhead whereas kitschy indicators like “We don’t have Wi-Fi. Speak to one another, fake it’s 1995” dot the partitions.
This weathered roadside diner is the Outpost Cafe, and it’s one among a dying breed.
First in-built 1929, the Outpost originated as a gasoline station and six-seat diner. In 1961, the restaurant moved throughout the street into its present constructing to make method for the I-15 freeway. Truck drivers have lengthy been loyal patrons of the Outpost Cafe. Motorists regularly cease in with tales in regards to the previous wedding ceremony chapel that used to face on the property. Particular person servers and cooks have followers among the many locals within the close by city of Hesperia.
Final 12 months, Ryan Dandurand took possession of the Outpost Cafe from his father, Mike, who acquired the restaurant in 2010. The youthful Dandurand had been working at a carpet-cleaning firm and initially noticed the restaurant as a solution to keep away from working in a go well with and tie. However as he discovered in regards to the restaurant’s historical past, he realized he was persevering with the legacy of one thing far greater than himself.
Sherry Spearow, a server on the restaurant since 1992, says that the Outpost Cafe is the one place many truckers will cease to eat in the whole state of California. “They’ll go 50 miles out of their solution to come right here as a result of it’s good hometown cooking,” she says. “Mother-and-pop locations are few and much between, and many of the truck stops now are taking the eating places out and placing in quick meals.”
Scott Colon, a truck driver primarily based out of Arizona, had simply completed delivering a load from Tucson to Camp Pendleton in San Diego. Drained and hungry, Colon determined to make the trek to what he calls “the most effective meals in California.”
“I got here 110 miles, despite the fact that I’ve to go within the different route, simply so I can eat right here,” says Colon. “If you happen to do any touring, in case you go the previous routes like Route 66, there aren’t any diners anymore. It’s all Taco Bell, Jack within the Field, McDonald’s.” Colon estimates that locations just like the Outpost Cafe make up lower than 10 % of the meals choices on his routes crisscrossing the nation.
The Outpost Cafe’s meals is nice old style American fare. Objects like chicken-fried steak with eggs and bacon or a 12-ounce rib-eye with loaded baked potatoes are common. The Meatloaf Masterpiece sandwich with candy potato fries is a constant best-seller. The meals right here is uncomplicated and nostalgic — spaghetti and meatballs, California hen salad, salmon dinner. For truckers used to the tasteless choices of IHOP or Wendy’s, a juicy Cowboy Bacon Cheeseburger after an extended drive is a reminder of house, of heat and care.
Many truckers sleep parked within the Outpost’s lot in a single day, based on Andrea Welton, a server on the restaurant and Dandurand’s fiancee. They’ll use the close by Pilot station to bathe and be in line for the Outpost Cafe proper when it opens at 6 a.m. Breakfast service is often abuzz with plates of divorced eggs, steak and hash, and sausage biscuits flying out of the kitchen.
“Throughout COVID, I feel individuals realized how vital truck drivers are,” mentioned Ryan Dandurand. “It’s not truthful that they don’t have actual choices for meals once they’re delivering it to everybody else.”
Nevertheless it’s not simply truckers who come by way of. Vacationers on their solution to Las Vegas will cease by to have a good time their wedding ceremony anniversaries, and households from Hesperia will carry their youngsters and grandkids in for the hen tenders and mac and cheese. U.S. Route 395 goes on to Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Lake Tahoe, and Reno, Nevada; Interstate 15 goes on to Las Vegas and Salt Lake Metropolis. Given its location, the Outpost Cafe has develop into the go-to lunch break for a lot of making the journey from Southern California outwards.
Elvira Canelo, a prepare dinner on the Outpost Cafe for 30 years, credit the success of the place to its sturdy possession. “They’re the most effective individuals,” she says of her bosses. The Outpost Cafe was Mike Dandurand’s delight and pleasure. He developed relationships with the area people, and even when he turned too sick to work and retired to Mexico, he would examine the video digital camera feeds each day and bug his son about little fixes. Have been the flooring clear? Have been there 4 shirts hanging on show on the entrance counter?
On November 23, 2022, Mike known as Spearow on the Outpost. “Ryan had simply left for Thanksgiving with Andrea. Mike known as and mentioned to me, ‘I’m simply checking in with you, is every thing okay?’” They chatted about her household, whom Mike had recognized for years, after which he mentioned to her, “Nicely, Ryan’s out of city … if there’s something I can do for you, I’m simply laying round, simply give me a name.”
Mike handed away later that day.
“I don’t wish to fail my dad and let this place flip right into a Taco Bell,” says the youthful Dandurand. “The one factor I take into consideration that he all the time instructed me was: ‘Do the proper factor and all the time handle individuals.’”
Dandurand is doing his greatest to uphold the imaginative and prescient his father set forth for the restaurant — a mom-and-pop stronghold offering good meals and good service to its loyal followers 12 months after 12 months. The subsequent time you’re en route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, swing by the Outpost Cafe for a heat meal and a sizzling cup of espresso, made by individuals who have been lovingly serving their group for generations.
The Outpost Cafe is situated at 8685 U.S. Route 395, Oak Hills, CA, 92344. It’s open 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day.