Built by Roy and Helen Tull in the early 1960s. The cafe is 1.5 miles west of Chambless and 10 miles east of Amboy, California on National Trails Highway, formerly Route 66.
Roy Tull was a truck driver and built the cleverly named Roadrunner's Retreat as a truck stop. Helen managed the restaurant with the help of several local women who helped as waitresses, one of whom was Lola Joyce Nelson from Cadiz. The exact dates that the cafe was open is uncertain, but the business closed in the 1970s when Interstate 40 was opened between Needles and Barstow; all of the roadside businesses on this stretch of Route 66 through the Mojave Desert between Essex and Ludlow died almost overnight. Businesses that depended on tourist and commercial traffic – service stations, restaurants, motels, car repair - were forced to close.
After it had been closed for some time, the Roadrunner's Retreat and the adjacent service station were eventually sold to Mr. & Mrs. Bill Ross Murphy who still own the property today. Mr. Murphy never intended to reopen the restaurant; his interest was more toward maintaining the site for its historic significance on old Route 66. Unfortunately Mr. Murphy was not able to fulfill his goal before he passed away, but he was able to enjoy many memorable weekends on the property with his family.
Today both the cafe and service station are boarded up and slowly deteriorating. While The Roadrunner Retreat was open a small community of a dozen or so mobile homes grew up behind the diner and provided living quarters for employees who worked in the restaurant and the service station, but all of those have either been removed or are also in ruins.
However, the once-prominent sign adjacent to the highway that advertised the cafe, although fading and pale, persists as one of those iconic symbols on old Route 66.
I am very grateful to Mr. Ryan Anderson. Mr. Murphy’s grandson, for most of this information.