Oct 122014
 

aztec-motel








MONROVIA - Closed for more than two years, the historic Aztec Hotel is in the middle of a renovation project touted as a return to prominence for the distinctive Mayan-style building in Monrovia, although visible progress has turned out to be as fleeting as the ghosts that supposedly haunt the hotel.

Once a 1920s celebrity hangout and still a Route 66 attraction, the hotel could reopen by early 2015 if work goes according to plan. An application for a new round of upgrades was submitted to Monrovia officials in late September, and work could soon begin with minor alterations to the rooms and construction of a redesigned parking lot.

However, very little has gone according to plan for the Aztec Hotel recently. A former manager who started the renovations by overhauling the hotel restaurant is now entangled in a lawsuit against the hotel’s Chinese owner, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination.

Also, a series of negotiations to lease the hotel’s empty retail spaces fell through, leaving a long-established barbershop as the sole tenant. In January, one new business moved in — a Route 66 memorabilia and gift shop — but it was gone in less than six months.

“There’s interest in the community, and I have to think people are kind of disappointed,” said Jim Wigton, president of the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group. “If the owner was serious about making this a viable concern, a lot more would have been done.”

Despite its troubles, the current hotel manager says plenty has gone on behind the scenes as preparation, and he is optimistic about what the Aztec could become — a boutique destination for Route 66 travelers, ghost hunters and anyone interested in the hotel’s inherent nostalgia and kitsch.

“The goal is to bring it back to the 20s and 30s design, but with modern amenities,” said Peter Kertenian, whose background includes managing Marriott hotels.

Kertenian acknowledged the pace of renovation has been slow, but noted that a building such as the Aztec, a National Historic Landmark that has a similar status at the city level, requires extra time for various approvals.

The newest renovation plans are on track to be considered by Monrovia’s Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Commission this month or November, according to Planning Manager Craig Jimenez.

Kertenian also ran into a few surprises when planning the work, he said. The electrical transformers that serve the building are far too old to handle the installation of air conditioning in the rooms, so Southern California Edison needs to replace them.

Also, the parking lot is unlighted and its spaces non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so redesigning it became necessary before the Aztec Hotel’s restaurant could open, he said.

“They wasted all this time on a restaurant, when nobody sat down and said you cannot open a restaurant when the parking lot is not done,” Kertenian said.

Formerly known as the Brass Elephant, a bar whose rowdy clientele often aggravated neighbors, the restaurant was supposed to transform into the more community-friendly Mayan Bar and Grill under former manager Art DeSautels, who had been hired in December 2012.

“It wasn’t until I went there, seeing that it was closed, when I got into the lobby and saw the history of the building, I was immediately intrigued by the opportunity,” DeSautels said.

While the restaurant work got underway in early 2013, DeSautels invited public engagement through a social media campaign, offering tours and taste testings of the Latin American-inspired menu that he expected to establish. Many of his postings are still available on the hotel’s Facebook page.

“They’ve had so many bad experiences,” DeSautels said, referring to a messy foreclosure that allowed the current owner, Qinhan Chen, to purchase the property through a company called Jia Ming Hotel USA. “There were so many things I needed to do bridge the gap between the owner, the city and the community.”

His work initially had Chen’s approval, DeSautels said, but it didn’t last. Making decisions primarily from his home in China and visiting occasionally, Chen at first appeared more interested in a Las Vegas-style hotel and wanted to make the Aztec’s rooms bigger by knocking down some walls, DeSautels said.

By the time he was fired in May 2013, DeSautels had filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging Chen had hired a Chinese assistant manager to usurp his duties and slandered him with allegations of stolen funds.

In his lawsuit filed in May, nearly a year after his dismissal, DeSautels makes further claims that Chen was skirting the U.S. Patriot Act and other laws by hiring Chinese nationals to transfer money to the U.S. through their bank accounts.

Chen counter-sued, alleging DeSautels performed work without approval and stole $1,500 through petty cash funds.

DeSautels says all of the money went into the hotel. “Everything I did was to save them money,” he said, also referring to Chen’s bookkeeper. “I had them sign off on all the equipment that was given to them.”

Chen’s Alhambra-based attorney, Peter K. Chu, called DeSautels’ accusations untrue and noted that the claims of illegal money transfers don’t have anything to do with the labor dispute that’s the basis of the lawsuit.

“(Chen) was outraged by the allegations,” Chu said.

The restaurant remodel had been nearly complete when DeSautels left the project, but instead of opening it as the Mayan Bar and Grill, the plan soon changed to leasing it.

The restaurant and the Aztec’s other retail spaces have attracted plenty of interested parties, but several potential business owners said they walked away because Chen kept changing his mind about terms, often seeking more money or repairs.

“We left with a very bitter feeling about it,” said Joe Ramsey, who wanted to start a music store at the Aztec and said he and a partner had a handshake deal in 2013. Instead, after about the fourth round of requests to restructure the deal, “we said, you know, we’re not going to be able to do this.”

Ramsey now co-owns Resistor Records, in Monrovia’s Old Town district on Myrtle Avenue.

Former Old Town business owner Patty Fairman, who had been interested in moving her Patty’s Antiques shop to the Aztec, said she backed out when the lease rate and repair requests kept changing.

Kertenian said leasing deals could come together once the hotel reopens, and said construction is ready to progress quickly once all the approvals are completed, barring the likelihood of setbacks because of the hotel’s age.

He also defended Chen’s plans for the Aztec, saying the owner wants to ensure the remodeling work is a fit with hotel’s historic status.

“His vision is right on, he’s not trying to make this place look like the Taj Mahal or anything,” Kertenian said. “Almost all the plans, the design, everything is set, it’s a matter of executing it.”

By: James Figueroa – Pasadena Star News

Oct 062014
 

goffs-schoolhouse








While driving across the east Mojave with my brother about 35 years ago, we came to a lonely crossroads where one very sad-looking building sat baking in the sun.

The crossroads is called Goffs, and the building — a one-room schoolhouse — sat in ruins with its roof ready to collapse. We stopped only briefly, dismissing it as one of those nameless relicts soon to be swallowed by an unfeeling desert.

About the same time, Dennis Casebier also stopped there, but while I saw a wreck, he saw history and a future.

Because of his insight and a lot of help from volunteers, there will be a special celebration in Goffs this weekend marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of the school and bright prospects for its future.

The refurbished schoolhouse building — whose last class was dismissed in June 1937 — is the core of a remarkable complex known as the Goffs Cultural Center. Many miles from the nearest town, it houses an unsurpassed collection of written material, photos and mining and railroad equipment of the heritage of the eastern Mojave.

This weekend’s celebration is the 35th Mojave Road Rendezvous, a get-together by members of the Friends of the Mojave Road on whom Casebier has counted on in the creation of the center. Hundreds will attend to meet, greet, enjoy, share stories and appreciate the saving of the schoolhouse which has twice been left to die.

A century ago, Goffs — sitting at the very top of a Santa Fe railroad grade 2,000 feet higher than Needles 40 miles to the east — once boasted about 60 residents, mostly railroad employees and their families.

The parents of the dozen or so children there wanted a school so a petition went to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors requesting one be opened. and the Goffs School District was soon formed. For $2,300, a local man named Tom Weir built the 800-square-foot classroom on donated acreage with instruction beginning in the fall of 1914.

By the Great Depression, however, Goffs was dying — in 1931 it actually was bypassed by Route 66 (now that’s a first) and then Santa Fe reduced its workforce there. After the school closed in 1937, what kids were left were bused to a new school up the highway in Essex.

The schoolhouse got a short rebirth in early World War II when Gen. George Patton trained thousands of troops in the desert for the invasion of North Africa. The school was briefly turned into a canteen where long lines of dusty soldiers could buy hamburgers, candy, cigarettes and cold drinks.

But when the troops left, the schoolhouse was left to rot.

On a March day in 1982, Casebier — then a Corona resident and employed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco — wasn’t planning on becoming a resident of Goffs, as he is today, or building a cultural center. He was just out in his Jeep exploring when he stopped at the schoolhouse.

“I had a roll of film left and thought I’d better take some pictures because the next time I saw it, I figured it would be a pile of rubble,” he said.

But there were others also interested in the old place. Jim and Bertha Wold, who had worked at ranches in the area, actually went ahead and bought it. With a lot of work, they made it into their home.

Casebier as part of his hobby of collecting the stories and history of the eastern Mojave struck up an acquaintance with the Wolds. When they decided to sell the schoolhouse in 1989 due to ill health, Casebier, now retired from the Navy job, decided to buy it and its 113 desert acres.

The rest is, well, history.

The schoolhouse complex now boasts 10,000 volumes on Mojave and Western history, 120,000 historic photos and 6,000 maps of the desert. He had also conducted 1,300 oral histories of pioneers, ranchers and school children of the eastern Mojave’s past.

The special activities at Goffs get underway Thursday with the dedication of the American Boy stamp mill, a rebuilt multi-ton piece of mining equipment used in years past to crush rock from the mines. On Saturday will be the huge raffle that generates funds to operate the center as well as a barbecue dinner. There will also be off-road tours of the desert landmarks throughout the weekend. To participate: email goffs@eastmojave.net. There are some camping facilities at Goffs.

If you visit, remember Goffs is many miles from the nearest motel (Needles or Laughlin), inexpensive gas (same) or food (same again), but it’s worth the trip either this weekend or in the future to get a taste of the West of days gone by. It’s 100 miles east of Barstow via the 40 Freeway, then north on Goffs Road for 12 miles.

POSTED:  |

Jun 172014
 

River-010









Back in 2012 – I headed out to Needles CA to start the restoration of the 66 Motel sign. It wasn’t until August of that year I first saw this little gem called Fender’s River Road Resort, and swore I would be back.

I was in contact with Fender’s manager Rosie a few weeks ago and we started talking about how to get the resort on the Route 66 road map, seeing the building was built around 1958 and has been open for business ever sense.  Fender’s River Road Resort has a mix of ways a traveler can stop off the route and enjoy the river. If you are driving in your car or riding your bike, they have several motel rooms. If you are in your RV and looking for a place to stay for a night or 30, they have an RV park. If you are a little more adventurous, they have a camping area where you can pitch a tent.

I decided to go out there for the weekend as there were several things which I wanted to check out. Getting in late Friday night, we went over to the Riverfront Cafe to have a late dinner. The place was busy and overlooked the Colorado River. My BBQ sandwich was good, the beer was cold. What else can you ask for?!?!

Saturday started with us taking a run over to check out the 66 Motel sign, the old Carty’s Camp Shell Station and taking a walk back by the original Carty’s Camp. We headed back to the resort and started walking around the resort while I was getting caught up on the history of the property. Knowing Route 66 AND the National Old Trails Highway is at the front door, and the Colorado River is at the back door, it’s hard to match a property like this one anywhere on the route. I spent a little time looking at the neon sign to determine what work was needed to bring it back to its original condition.

We ate at the historic Wagon Wheel Restaurant for a few meals and went across the street to Juicy’s Cafe for dinner Saturday night. Fender’s is located in the section away from the town the locals call ‘the suburbs of Needles as it is only a few minutes from the Wagon Wheel. You get the town a few minutes away but are left alone in your own little world.

ed-colorado-river-03

The main draw to Fender’s is the river. We sat at the rivers edge with our feet in the water, drinking a few refreshments watching the boats go up and down the river. It was nice to just relax and not care about anything.

We spent Sunday on wave runners running up and down the Colorado River checking out Pirate’s Cove and then heading over to Topok. We then headed north up to Laughlin Nevada. It was great to get back on the water and get some sun and have some fun! The sunburn was well worth it!

My advice is simple: If you are looking to get on the water, plan on spending two days here. Fender’s works with a rental company across the river who can get you wave runners, boats and pontoons. It is nice to know after all of the driving we do to see Route 66, and all the time in the car you can spend a little time on the river before you head out into the desert. They are in the midst of bringing the property to what it once did when it opened in the late 1950′s. Drop them a line and plan your visit! Rosie is a wonderful host and wants to make sure your stay is pleasant.

Check them out via their website by clicking HERE or visit their Facebook page by clicking HERE.

May 122014
 
wigwam-motel-CA










Kumar Patel grew up along Route 66, a highway long celebrated in literature, song and film. He was not impressed.

On his first long road trip, about six years ago, he found himself bored by the route’s decaying monuments, mom-and-pop diners and dusty museums.

“I hated it,” he said. “But I didn’t understand it.”

The journey to understanding started soon after that trip, when his mother started having health problems. She had been running the family’s Wigwam Motel, a clutch of 20 tepee-shaped rooms on Route 66 in San Bernardino. She could no longer run it alone.

So at 26, Patel took over, giving up a career in accounting to run an aging tourist trap that struggled to cover its costs.

Kumar Patel operates the Wigwam Motel, a clutch of 20 tepee-shaped rooms on Route 66 in San Bernardino. He has become a tireless promoter of the highway’s culture. He sees that as a way to keep the history of Route 66 alive and fill his motel rooms.

Now, as a 32-year-old entrepreneur, he stands out among the typical Route 66 merchants, who promote such roadside curiosities as a Paul Bunyon monument, a blue whale statue and the Petrified Forest National Park. Such sites now are operated and visited mostly by white, middle-aged travelers, whose numbers are dwindling.

Unless Patel and other Route 66 business owners can attract a younger and more diverse crowd, one that matches the evolving demographics of America, the shops and oddball attractions along the route will shut down for good.

“If it doesn’t happen, we are not going to keep all of this alive,” said Kevin Hansel, the caretaker of another struggling Route 66 business, Roy’s Motel and Cafe in Amboy. “It will be history.”

That history started in the 1920s, when the road was built to handle a surge in automobile ownership and a push by business owners to link the small towns and merchants of the Midwest to big cities. Route 66 became the nation’s main east-west artery.

In his novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck called it the “mother road” because it beckoned and delivered the refugees from the Dust Bowl exodus to jobs in California in the 1930s. Bobby Troup penned his biggest hit song, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” in 1946.

But by the 1950s, the narrow, slow-moving route was replaced in pieces by multilane, interstate freeways, designed for high-speed travel. Federal workers removed the freeway markers and decommissioned Route 66 in 1985, effectively killing business for the jukebox-blasting diners and neon-rimmed motels.

Today, with the future of the Wigwam at stake, Patel has immersed himself in that history, driving Route 66 himself, stopping to chat with his fellow shopkeepers and travelers. He set out on a search for insight into how to promote his business but ended up with a more personal appreciation of the route’s culture.

“That’s what grew on me: The people who shared with me their stories of the road,” he said.

When the Wigwam Motel went on sale in 2003 for nearly $1 million, Patel’s father, an Indian immigrant who ran another small hotel in San Bernardino, saw it as a good investment. It has yet to pay off.

Like many Route 66 businesses, the Wigwam struggles to squeeze out enough money to pay for improvements. It took five years to save up to renovate the pool area. Last year, Patel was finally able to afford a full-time maid for the motel. Before then, Patel and his mother cleaned and changed sheets while selling souvenirs and booking rooms.

“We still run it on a thin line,” he said.

With the Wigwam’s success tied to Route 66, Patel has become a tireless promoter of its culture. He sees that as a way to keep the history of Route 66 alive and fill his motel rooms.

He set out recently on a drive to show off some of its peculiar attractions along California’s stretch of the 2,400-mile highway that runs from Chicago to Santa Monica. He started from a rundown roadside hotel in Needles, in the Mojave Desert near the Arizona border.

Stars twinkled in the darkness. The only sound was the hum of big rigs bouncing off the blacktop. The best way to experience the road, he said, is by driving east to west. It’s the way the Dust Bowl refugees saw it and later Midwesterners, heading for vacations in Los Angeles.

“On Route 66 you find real people, real food,” Patel said.

He rattled off history and trivia as the car zipped past telephone poles on National Trails Highway — the name now given to the portion of Route 66 that runs through much of the Mojave Desert.

A downed palo verde tree about half a mile outside of Amboy is called the “Shoe Tree” because it toppled under the weight of hundreds of shoes tossed on the branches by visitors. It’s a tradition that locals say was started by an arguing couple and continues today.

“The purists love this stuff because they don’t want to see things that are renewed,” Patel said. “They want to see the original stuff.”

Take tiny Amboy (population 17), once a bustling pit stop. Today, the only commerce happens at Roy’s Motel and Cafe. The cafe sells only soft drinks and snacks. The motel is closed because of a lack of water. The drop-off in business no longer makes it practical to ship in water by train. The ground has long been saturated with salt, making well water undrinkable.

Kevin Hansel, the caretaker, dreams of the day someone drills a well deep enough to reach drinkable water.

“Once we get the water, we can open the restaurant and the bungalows,” he said.

As Patel visited, about a dozen Volkswagen vans pulled in under the cafe’s giant boomerang-shaped sign. The VW road warriors were meeting at Roy’s before driving east to Lake Havasu.

Among them was retired welder Joe Stack, 71, of Costa Mesa. He has been taking this road trip for 10 years. When Stack’s daughter was a girl, she rode shotgun in his van.

But she is now 22 and not interested in the retro architecture of Route 66.

“Young kids don’t want to come out here,” he said, squinting in the morning sun. “Young kids are on a computer wearing their thumbs out.”

Route 66 travelers today have a median age of 55 and 97% are white, according to a 2011 study by David Listokin, a Rutgers University economics professor. Only 11% of the travelers on the road are ages 20 to 39, according to the study.

A few months ago, Listokin read the highlights of his study to a group of Route 66 business owners who met at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim to discuss the road’s future. Patel was there — among the few people in the room under age 40.

Patel stood at the front of the brightly colored Magic Kingdom Ballroom, urging his fellow Route 66 merchants to reach out to young travelers, the way he has done.

He hosted hip-hop, end-of-summer festivals at the Wigwam Motel, with DJs and strobe lights. During a recent Christmas, he threw a doughnut party and decorated the tepee-shaped motel rooms to look like Christmas trees. He’s volunteered his motel as a stop for a classic car show to raise money to restore a historic gas station in Rancho Cucamonga.

His work has won him the respect of older Route 66 advocates.

“We absolutely need that kind of thing that he is doing,” said Linda Fitzpatrick, 73, who is leading a campaign to restore the Needles Theater, a 1930s-era Masonic temple that was converted to a movie house.

Back on the road, just outside Barstow, Patel pulled up to an attraction known as “Bottle Tree Ranch.”

The forest of metal trees, adorned with colored bottles, was built by Elmer Long, a 67-year-old retired cement worker who, with his long white beard and floppy hat, looks like a ’49er-era gold prospector.

During the busy summer months, he said, his bottle trees draw as many as 1,000 visitors a day. But most of the visitors are international travelers. Each day, visitors leave Long a few dollars in a tip can.

“To them, the U.S. is a magical place,” he said, as traffic rushes past his ramshackle home.

The sky began to dim as Patel pulled up to the Wigwam Motel. His mother, who still helps Patel with the business, told him that two motel guests — young ones — were finishing a long road trip.

At the door of one of the tepees, Patel introduced himself to Emily Mills, 28, and her sister Anna, 25, from North Carolina. Emily Mills was starting a new job managing a Culver City restaurant. For the move west, the sisters decided on a Route 66 road trip.

They hit all the big stops, including the Cadillac Ranch, west of Amarillo, Texas, where junk Cadillacs have been thrust nose first into the earth. A few miles south of the ranch, the sisters stopped to see the statue of a giant pair of legs, more than 20 feet tall.

The Mills sisters also spent the night in another Wigwam Motel, in Holbrook, Ariz. — one of seven built across the country by architect Frank Redford. Only two Wigwams remain on Route 66.

“We wanted to tell our friends we slept in a wigwam and saw a giant pair of legs,” Emily Mills said as the sun set behind her tepee.

Guests like the Mills sisters are a good sign for the Wigwam, Patel said. Most Route 66 travelers zip through San Bernardino to reach the end of the route in Santa Monica, 78 miles away.

Patel can’t yet say when — or if — the Wigwam will ever become the moneymaker Patel’s father envisioned. But now he’s grown attached to the road, and sees himself as more than just a motel operator. Patel has become a curator of the Route 66 legend, a proud member of its cast of characters.

- By The Los Angeles Times

Dec 122013
 

rancho-cucamongo-preservation









The preservation of the Richfield Gas Station in Rancho Cucamongo CA.

I posted back in March of this year the work to restore the historic Cucamonga Service Station on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga CA.

The Route 66 Inland Empire California nonprofit group owns the propery after it was deeded to them by the Lamar sign company.

The nonprofit was formed to save the structure and members intend to renovate and rebuild the gas station to what it looked like during its business heyday in the first part of the 20th century.

“It’s really exciting to see the community want to see this gas station, this service station, come back to its golden years,” said Anthony Gonzalez, president of the Route 66 IECA.

A main goal of the organization is to turn the site of the old Richfield service station into a landmark Rancho Cucamonga tourist destination and museum for Route 66 fans and travelers from all over the world.

Known as the Cucamonga Service Station, it opened in the 1910s and provided service up to the 1970s.

The group plans to bring back the old gravity-fed pumps from the 1930s, and possibly have old signs, oil cans, souvenirs, and literature related to Route 66 for visitors and the community.

The group’s members had been concerned about the fate of the old building in recent years. A larger adjoining garage in the rear had been demolished in the recent past.

Group members say the plan is raise money with the help of the public to restore the gas station and rebuild the demolished garage. The hope is to have something open by 2015 in time for the 100 year anniversary of the station.

Lamar has donated the land to the nonprofit, and the company should get a tax break from the deal.

The group will also look to the state and federal government to assist in available grants.

I am so happy to see another historic property being not only saved – but restored to its former glory.

As we all know – I am about preserving history! ESPECIALLY Route 66 history…

 

You can visit their website at http://route66ieca.org/ or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Route66IECA

Jun 012013
 





I do hope they reopen the restaurant (and orange juice stand) one day in the near future as I know EVERYONE will want to stop and get a chance to experience this place….

On a day when Fontana was celebrating its 100th birthday, Joe Bono on Friday did just what his family has done for the last 77 years: He offered his hospitality to tourists traveling on Route 66.
Sitting along the parking lot of Bono’s Old Route 66 restaurant on Foothill Boulevard was something Glen Heitritter and Linda Swenson of Omaha, Neb., had not yet seen on their ride down the Mother Road.

They stopped to take a look at the Big Orange, a 7-foot-high stucco ball from which thirsty travelers could buy glasses of fresh orange juice before the age of the freeway.

After the couple posed for the requisite photo, Bono gave them a tour of his place.

An attorney and former deputy district attorney, Bono grew up at the rear of the property at the corner of Sultana Avenue. A neighbor suggested to his mother in 1936 that she ought to sell juice to travelers along Foothill, which at the time had plenty of vineyards but was short on any places to stop for refreshment.

“It was all you could drink for 10 cents,” he told me in an interview some time ago.

That evolved into an Italian market and ultimately a restaurant. Especially during the Great Depression, Mama Bono would hear lots of hard-luck stories from many weary, and penniless, travelers seeking a new life in California and often fed them for free.

For Heitritter and Swanson, the Big Orange proved the perfect Route 66 distraction.

In their striking red Pontiac GTO — naturally, a 1966 model — they have traveled what remains of Route 66 since picking it up first in Carthage, Mo.

Among the notable experiences they’ve had was spending a night in one of the storied Wigwam Motels — with rooms shaped like teepees — in Holbrook, Ariz. They had passed the Inland Empire’s Wigwam Motel on the western edge of San Bernardino a few moments before pulling into Bono’s parking lot.

Before leaving for the end of the road at Santa Monica Pier that afternoon, they viewed Bono’s restaurant and its array of photographs and mementoes.

On a wall is a picture of young Joe and his father working in the vineyards not far away.

“Everything you see out there was vineyards,” he told the visitors, pointing out the windows toward Foothill.

But now Bono has big plans for his landmark business.

Looking over architect’s drawings, Bono said the restaurant, whose front windows are just a few feet shy of the now-four-lane Foothill Boulevard, will be moved south back from the highway. This will accommodate widening of the street as well as the construction of a huge warehouse planned on the other side of Sultana.

He said he was confident that Bono’s restaurant would reopen in the near future, to accommodate Fontana’s next century and for future travelers seeking the romance and adventure of Route 66.

By Joe Blackstock – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Apr 242013
 




SAN BERNARDINO — Two months after the annual Route 66 Rendezvous car show stalled out, one of its organizers said she’s jump-started the show – and is moving it to Ontario under a new name.
Shelly McNaul, who previously served as the director of special events for the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced the move Saturday on the Route 66 Rendezvous Facebook page.

“I will be continuing under another name called the ‘Route 66 Reunion’ that will be a three-day car show modeled after the Route 66 Rendezvous scheduled for the same weekend, Sept. 20 to 22, 2013,” her post read in part.

The event, which pays tribute to classic cars, hotrods and the famous Mother Road itself, has been huge in San Bernardino for more than two decades, drawing thousands of visitors from outside of the city, filling local hotel rooms and filling local businesses with customers.

Jim Gerstenslager, chairman of the board for the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau – which stopped day-to-day operations in March – said the Route 66 Rendezvous is San Bernardino’s signature event and nobody ever talked to him about it.

“We can’t stop people from having their own event as long as they don’t infringe on our trademark,” Gerstenslager said. “Our Convention and Visitors Bureau owns the name and Stater Bros., as title sponsor, owns Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous. We’re sticking to it and it’s absolute. “

In Ontario, which is actually a few miles south of the original Route 66, Gerstenslager’s counterpart was already gearing up for the launch of an Ontario event, which the city sees as its own way to attract visitors.

“We’re finalizing details on bringing it to Ontario under a different name,” said Michael Krouse, president and CEO of the Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Krouse went on to say, “It’s a great opportunity to bring visitors to our city, and the goal is to make it bigger and better. “

McNaul had hoped to move the event – which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Bernardino each summer – to Glen Helen Regional Park, she wrote, but will instead be moving it to Euclid Avenue in Ontario. McNaul has been hired by the Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, she said. The San Bernardino convention center announced in February that, after 22 years, this year’s Route 66 Rendezvous was canceled because of a lack of funding. In early 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown shut down redevelopment agencies around the state, and redevelopment funds had previously been used to help cover clean-up and security at the event. Several months later, the city declared bankruptcy.

“The challenges with doing the car show on the downtown streets of San Bernardino became greater with an unpleasant element at night,” McNaul said. “We want to give the car enthusiast back the freedom they once had to relax and enjoy the reunion of family and friends while sitting next to their babe. “

Public safety staffing has been an issue in the city.

Between declaring bankruptcy in July 2012 and March 2013, the city lost 285 employees, nearly one in four, including dozens of police officers. Police emergency response time has risen 30 seconds, to 5.4 minutes, and non-emergency calls now average a 30-minute response time.

That hasn’t stopped San Bernardino organizers from organizing something.

Meanwhile, an alternative car show, Rendezvous Back to Route 66, is scheduled for the same weekend at San Manuel Baseball Stadium in San Bernardino. The car show is being planned by the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce and car clubs, including Over the Hill Gang, according to chamber president and CEO Judi Penman.

“It’s already on the car club calendar,” Penman said. “We’ve had a great response so far, with people coming forward to participate.”

Ontario organizers are keeping the spirit of the original Rendezvous.

In her post, McNaul wrote that the Route 66 Reunion will have the same “elements” as the Rendezvous, with vendors, entertainment and a continuous three-mile cruise route looping around Euclid Avenue, from Holt Boulevard to 6th Street.

She added that the surroundings are ideal, with Euclid having three lanes to park cars on both sides and cruise down the middle. Businesses, historic homes and a grass median provide trees for shade for the crowd.

“It really has a great feel, and I think it would be a perfect location for the car participants,” she wrote.

McNaul will be mailing out vehicle entry forms in May, she wrote.

By Beua Yarbrough and Michel Nolan – The Sun

Mar 202013
 







GLAD to see this thing coming all together – wished I lived a LITTLE closer to it!!

RANCHO CUCAMONGA–Work to restore the historic Cucamonga Service Station on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga is revving up after a kick off ceremony held on Wednesday.

The Route 66 Inland Empire California nonprofit group now owns the the propery after it was deeded to them by the Lamar sign company earlier this year.

The nonprofit was formed to save the structure and members intend to renovate and rebuild the gas station to what it looked like during its business heyday in the first part of the 20th century.

“It’s really exciting to see the community want to see this gas station, this service station, come back to its golden years,” said Anthony Gonzalez, president of the Route 66 IECA.

A main goal of the organization is to turn the site of the old Richfield service station into a landmark Rancho Cucamonga tourist destination and museum for Route 66 fans and travelers from all over the world.

Known as the Cucamonga Service Station, it opened in the 1910s and provided service up to the 1970s, he said.

Gonzalez said the group plans to bring back the old gravity-fed pumps from the 1930s, and possibly have old signs, oil cans, souvenirs, and literature related to Route 66 for visitors and the community.

The group’s members had been concerned about the fate of the old building in recent years. A larger adjoining garage in the rear had been demolished in the recent past.

Group members say the plan is raise money with the help of the public to restore the gas station and rebuild the demolished garage. Gonzalez said the hope is to have something open by 2015 in time for the 100 year anniversary of the station.

“We open the door to whoever would like to come in and assist us and bring this dream, this historic station, back to its golden years,” Gonzalez said.

Lamar has donated the land to the nonprofit, and the company should get a tax break from the deal, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said his group will also look to the state and federal government to assist in available grants.

By Neil Nisperos – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Mar 182013
 






Route 66 Rendezvous volunteers got the bad news on Thursday: The classic car show, along with the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau that produced it for 22 years, is going the way of the horse-and-carriage.

The CVB had been funded since 1988 by a 2 percent surcharge on hotel stays.
But when the city hit hard times, it had the redevelopment agency take over funding the visitors bureau.

Of course, when Gov. Jerry Brown decided redevelopment must end in California, the city of San Bernardino had inadvertently left the CVB up a creek without a paddle.

CVB Special Events Director Shelly McNaul had put off announcing the demise to her Route 66 volunteers until she was sure no other organization was going to step forward to produce the event.

“The SBCVB Board of Directors and staff… have explored numerous options to make the SBCVB self-sufficient to no avail,” McNaul wrote.

“Therefore, the SBCVB Board voted to begin the process of closing the SBCVB, relinquish(ing) the franchise of the California Welcome Center and eliminat(ing) production of the 2013 Route 66 Rendezvous.”

The Welcome Center, opened just in 2007, handed out maps, brochures and tourist information at a pit stop off Interstate 10. The state only allows a handpicked few, and now San Bernardino will lose its center.

In a letter to the mayor, SBCVB Chairman Jim Gerstenslager reviewed the bureau’s accomplishments since 1988: publishing an annual visitor guide, hosting the Rendezvous, forming a Youth Sports Alliance to bring soccer and Little League tournaments to the city.

Losing the funding for the bureau puts one more nail in the bankrupt city’s coffin.

- By Cassie Macduff

Feb 012013
 



It’s about time!! I know they have been struggling for years trying to get this historic old Richfield Gas station – and now it is finally a reality!!

Rancho Cucamonga – Ownership of a historic Route 66 gas station near the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue was granted this week to a nonprofit historic preservation organization.

A main goal of the organization is to turn the site into a landmark Rancho Cucamonga tourist destination for Route 66 fans and travelers from all over the world, said Anthony Gonzales, president of the Route 66 IECA.

The gas station, which was opened in the 1910s, had provided service to the community up to the 1970s, he said.

“We have Route 66, the ‘mother road,’ and it’s been around since the 1930s, and it’s representative of an era back in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s,” Gonzalez said. “For people from the middle part of the country, the road they used to travel to California was Route 66.‘ Several times, walking past this gas station, I started wondering to myself, who was here, what famous people were here who traveled this road and stopped here. There is a lot of history.”

Members had been concerned over the fate of the old building in recent years. A larger adjoining garage in the rear had been demolished in the recent past. The group initiated efforts to acquire the property from the Lamar advertising company, which also owns tall electronic billboards near the site.

Lamar has donated the land to the nonprofit, and the company should get a tax break from the deal, Gonzalez said. Gonzalez had the grant deed signed by county officials on Thursday.

The Route 66 IECA (Inland Empire California) nonprofit group hopes to gain community and corporate support for money toward architectural review, renovation, marketing, and future upkeep.

“The desire is to try to restore it to a period of time in the past that would bring a little historic site to Route 66 and have the community have a treasure like this historic gas station, come in, visit and learn about the history of the gas station and learn about the history of Cucamonga as a whole.”

Gonzalez said the hope is to turn the place into a museum where travelers and locals could come and learn more about the history of Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga.

“The desire is to have the city become a partner with us in whatever they can,” Gonzalez said. “As far as soliciting funds from the city, the city is faced with financial issues. Our hope is to have the city as a partner to look for community sponsors and corporate sponsors.”

Gonzalez said his group will also look to the state and federal government to assist in available grants.

Neil Nisperos – Inland Newspapers