Friday, July 4, 2008

Motel 6 & Sambo's Restaurant - Bakersfield, CA

Just off the 99 on Oak Street in hot and dusty Bakersfield, a pair of 1960's relics soldier on...

First up, here is one of the original units in the now ubiquitous Motel 6 chain. Motel 6 was founded in 1962 when the original room charge was $6.60. Although their rates have risen some since then, they still provide basic rooms to those travelling on a budget.

Here is the Bakersfield '6' back in its heyday:


It looks like a warm day and the parking lot is full. It's hard to tell, but there appears to be a late 1950's Imperial parked in the lot, judging by the Flight-Sweep deck lid in evidence.

The pool is located right in the front, just off of the street. You'll also notice that there was a Sambo's restaurant located right next door; we'll stop in for a cup of coffee in just a few minutes...But first, let's visit the Motel 6 today:


The 40 year old building looks pretty much the same. It was never stylish to begin with, but then again Motel 6 wasn’t known for setting standards in the field of design. The place is now an Econolodge and rooms are advertised for $39.96 for a single. That’s a 600% increase from its Motel 6 glory days!

OK, OK…I know you’re wondering about the pool area. You ask if the remaining water is all green and slimy? Is it filled in with dirt and pushing up weeds? Or paved over for additional parking perhaps?

Can weary travelers still be refreshed after a long and tiring drive?

Well, I'm happy to report that the answer to that last question is a big fat ‘Yes!’

The whole pool area doesn’t look bad at all; and there’s even a life-ring to throw in for those having trouble staying afloat:



I’ll take the second floor room closest to that overhanging balcony. I like to be able to keep an eye on the kids while they work up an appetite for dinner…

Which will be served next door at Sambo’s!!!



And what a fine sight this place must have been when twilight was setting in and dinner was calling. Of course, pancakes were available 24-7 and I’d bet that the Club House was cut in quarters as is proper. Steaks and Chicken were also in the spotlight.

Featuring a rakish and somewhat different design than the Sambo’s in Modesto, this beautiful building calls out to passers by (and those staying next door) quite effectively.

When I was seeking out this location, I expected to find very little remaining of the original design. Boy was I surprised to see how much was still intact:



Let’s take a tour around the former Sambo’s, which now moonlights as Lamina (“Plate” in Spanish) and serves down-home Mexican food to hungry Vaquero’s…

Here’s a side view:


You don’t see decorative fencing like this anymore (but I do):



I’m not sure if they chose the six letter ‘Lamina’ so that they could still use these fanciful oval billboards to display the name...But I'm glad they did!

And if you stare at the sign without blinking for a minute or so, the letters will slowly change to: S-A-M-B-O-S ...



This area would have held lush landscaping, as befits a family restaurant. Looks like they lost a palm tree sometime back:


And here’s a close-up of the terrific rock work, which is one of my favorite elements of coffee shop design circa the Space Age. Too bad the ‘Sambo’s’ lettering no longer floats in front of the rough hewn surfaces (is that corn growing in the flowerbed?):


Why don’t they design buildings with angles like these anymore?


Lastly, a parting glance at the former Sambo’s; still standing out on site and holding up well some 40 years on:


Thanks for visiting. As before, please accept my apologies for the infrequent posts…I’ll try to do better going forward.

Happy travels!

10 comments:

Namowal said...

It's nice to see the old coffee shop (and hotel)in such good shape.
I suspect the angle building style will return some day.

Chris Jepsen said...

Another great post! Seeing that wonderful Sambo's building mostly entact brightened my whole day. Thanks!

jedblau said...

Man, this is a great blog. Can you post 2x a day, please?

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Absolutely great post and blog. Appreciate all the work. Thanks very much!

walterworld said...

Thank you all for your comments!

I appreciate your taking the time to drop me a line.

Knowing that there are folks out there who derive a small bit of pleasure from these posts makes it entirely worthwhile...

And Jedblau: I'll try my best to 'turn up the volume' !!!

Take care All & Thanks again for commenting---

Anonymous said...

Good post, as usual. But I gotta say, the neolithic lean-to architecture of this building is unappealing at best.
It's a GOOD thing this has gone out of style.

jiffy said...

Awesome postings and I do completely dig your site. Thanks for all the hard work. My grandmother ran a roadside motel in Jersey in the fifties and sixties and I totally relate to your vision. Thanks again.

northwoodsgal said...

Just found your site - and a great one it is. Just wanted to take exception to the 'hot and dusty' Bakersfield comment. Actually, it's only hot and dusty in the summer, more hot than dusty. I've lived in many states, and my husband and I actually chose to live here because it is a great town with great people. It used to be even better before all the big city folks came here seeking cheap real estate. (They found it.)
Anyway, I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of your site, and please come visit us anytime.

walterworld said...

Hello northwoodsgal---

Didn't mean to disparage your adopted hometown; I like Bakersfield and have spent a few memorable nights there with my family.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you like the rest of the site. I really need to get another post out there...been too long.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just came across your blog, wanted to comment on Motel 6 & Sambo's Restaurant. I was born and raised in Bakersfield, When I was a kid back in the 70's my grandmother used to take me to THAT Sambo's every Sunday. I remember the Tiger Butter n Syrup on the Pancakes! mmmmm! Nice to see its still there!

Scott in San Jose

P.S, Came across The Old Sambo's here in San Jose, building looks alot alike, its now a Chinese restaurant called Bo-Town