Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace

I just found a lovely little description of Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace at something called the Alternative Apparel Blog, associated with the Alternative Apparel store. The blog describes itself as a place "where we promote community, culture, consciousness, and creativity and tell the stories of the people behind our brand." It looks like it has some interesting posts of places to check out on the Byway. The online shop looks cool. I recommend checking out both.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to P&H last week while in the desert. We haven't been out in the desert enough to go often - but that will change when we move out there full time next year (!). Anyway, we met a number of friends there from the area who we haven't seen in some time and had a great time. I do really like that place and its atmosphere and its music.

P&H was featured recently on the California Desert episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I have to say that I found the show dumb and annoying. I don't know if it is always like that or if it was just this episode? Anthony Bourdain is just so showy and full of himself. What do you think of the show? Those of you who know this desert area, what did you think of the episode? P&H was highlighted and I suppose that is good for business and fun for its fans. But I don't think I will be watching that show much in the future  (except for the Liberia episode that I have to see - personal interest).

Anyway, I really like how this Alternative Apparel blog describes P&H and I really love the comment that follows from Constable Paul Dallas, a former patron of P&H and now a resident and officer of the law in Macon County, Tennessee. The following is a full copy of their blog post and photographs, and the comment - all credit to the Alternative Apparel Blog.

If the Byway ever takes you out to the Pioneertown area (near Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, 29 Palms), P&H is definitely worth a visit. You are likely to find me there a lot after next year when we move down to Pioneertown.

From the Alternative Apparel Blog:


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On the edge of an old western movie set in Pioneertown, CA sits an old biker roadhouse called Pappy & Harriet’s. It was originally founded by Harriet’s mom in 1972 as an outlaw biker bar called The Cantina, which she operated for 10 good years. When Mom decided to sell, Harriet and her husband (affectionately known as Pappy) decided to step in. While not shunning the bikers, Pappy & Harriet managed to create a friendlier atmosphere in the place by bringing in live music and family style BBQ dinners.

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In 1994 Pappy died and it changed hands several more times. In danger of closing down and becoming a forgotten piece of history, it was purchased by two New Yorkers who had fallen in love with the place. They bought it in 2003 and while keeping the original integrity, charm and grit, turned it into a “must play” on the indie music circuit. Big names like Robert Plant and Sean Lennon have played there, as well as Sonic Youth, Calexico and The Donnas who seem to love the down-home unpretentiousness and genuine enthusiasm of the desert crowd.

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The dining hall and bar walls are covered from floor to ceiling with band flyers, old license plates, photos and taxidermy, giving the venue a timeless quality. Their menu is the antithesis of the now popular raw, vegan and micro-brew scene as the kitchen serves up hefty portions of roadhouse classics like ribs, top sirloin, and Santa Maria tri-tip—all grilled outdoor over a mesquite fire on the back patio. Of course, all this is to be washed down with an icy cold Bud or PBR from the bar.

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While the desert can seem like a vast sweltering wasteland, Pappy & Harriet’s is truly an oasis where road-trippers and desert rats alike can share good music, good food and friendly small-town vibes.


Started goin there in the early '70's while stationed at MCAS El Toro CA, became good friends with John and Francis...spent MANY a night/weekend there...in early days, it was pretty much anything goes, we wore firearms whilst playin pool, and John would close down and alet us who were friends stay in and we'd all stay up till dawn sometimes having a brew and talking motorcycles and good times. In those days we parked out scooters just outside the Cantina and slept just about where ever we chose...we even had a favorite place down in the wash past the Cantina....lots of parties there in the day. The transition to Pappy and Harriet's was not a bad thing. Times changed a bit and P&H carried on the tradition. I slept many a night out behind P&H's place there in Pi-Town....Their door was always open to us and we got hot meal any time...Have not been in many a moon now....fond thoughts of the times spent there flood back every time I think of Pioneer Town, Cantina, Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley... I truly LOVED John and Francis, I loved Pappy and Harriet and will always rember the days as some of the best days. I moved to Tennessee in 1999, still ride Harley Davidson but the "roudy" days are done, for one I'm older and mellower, 2 I now wear a badge/gun for work as i am sworn peace officer, but I'll always have a little "outlaw" in me and I'll always remember with the greatest love for Pioneer Town ,,, the Cantina (John and Fraqncis), Pappy and Harriets Place and the Fantastic people who owned and operated them.
Visit me on Facebook page, where I'll be posting or have already posted some old photos of the early days of the Cantina...

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