After surveying eateries from coast to coast, Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” proclaimed Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe among the top three roadside cafes in the entire nation.
On Sunday, the cafe — the Victor Valley’s oldest restaurant and a Route 66 landmark — received recognition of another kind: a historic point of interest.
“This is a historic place that has gone back to an older, simpler time,” said Brian Gentry, son of Emma Jean Gentry and namesake of the cafe’s signature Brian Burger. “People know the person they are sitting next to before they leave.”
E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving Western heritage, selected the Holland Burger Cafe to receive the honor and plaque dedication. The group on Sunday dedicated a plaque honoring the roadside diner.
Founded in 1947 by Bob and Kate Holland, the cafe is a part of Route 66’s history.
Its appeal among truckers and locals has allowed the eatery to flourish over the past 64 years, according to Cass Ellsworth, president of E Clampus Vitus, better known as the Clampers.
In 1979, Emma Jean Gentry, who was a waitress, took over the cafe and turned it into a family business. Brian Gentry was only 13 years old at the time.
When she passed away in 1996, her husband, Richard, continued to run the cafe with his son and his son’s wife, Shawna.
More than six decades later, Brian Gentry is still serving food the same way. Cooks make homemade food and provide a home-style atmosphere for customers, he said.
One of its most popular dishes is the Brian Burger, which is a handpessed patty that includes mild green chili and Swiss-American cheese on Parmesan toast.
The cafe has been featured in many scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” as well as Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
The Clampers select locations that meet the organization’s standard twice a year.
During these ceremonies, new members are initiated into the group. These potential members have to go through a “rite of passage” in order to become a member, which included preparing for Sunday’s dedication ceremony.
Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe is at 17143 D St. in Victorville.
Hours are 5 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.