Roy’s Motel and Café (Amboy, California)

Roy's Motel and Café

U.S. Route 66 stretching across the United States, was once an important part of the United States highway system but is now a giant collection of roadside attractions and rusting historic markers. Roy’s Motel and Café in Amboy, California is in the process of preservation, but is no exception to the rule that all good things must come to an end.  The historic café/motel/gas station/auto repair shop is a shining example of mid-century modern architecture that over time has become a famous roadside attraction in the Mojave desert.

Roy’s was opened in 1938 by Roy Crowl and his brother-in-law Herman “Buster” Burris. The two men were largely responsible for the town itself in many ways, and it was Buster personally erected the power poles along the route from Barstow to Amboy.  Without this work it is unlikely that the city would have ever become the resting place it eventually turned into.

In February of 1959, Roy’s Motel and Café erected the neon boomerang sign that may be seen for mile while approaching the city.  The sloped roof resting over a glass wedge shaped building greets guests into the reception office and is indicitave of the mid-century modern style.

After the 1972 opening of Interstate 40 in California, the town of Amboy started a slow but steady decline that lead to its eventual demise.  There was a point in time in fact, that Roy’s Motel and Café was only one of three opened businesses in the city. The other s were the post office and Bristol Dry Lake’s Chloride Works.

Roy’s Motel and Café Facts

  • The town of Amboy, along with Roy’s Motel and Café is privately owned and in the process of preservation.
  • In the 1950s Roy’s employed as many as 70 people.  At the same time the entire city population was never greater than 700.
  • Roy’s Motel and Café was open 24-hours a day seven days a week.
  • There was a point in time when Roy’s was so busy that Buster placed classified adds in newspapers across the United States trying to recruit employees.
  • Roy Crowl died in 1977, and Buster took care of the motel and café until business got too slow to continue.
  • Burris was well known for his dislike of bikers and it is said that he sometimes chased away patrons he did not like with gun.