Friday 12 December 2008

Clever Cruisers Cafe Bathroom Brings Together the Open Road and the Commode

Cruisers Cafe 66
233 W Route 66
Williams, AZ 86046

Where is it?

Standing at the front entrance, with your back to the door, you'll see a small dining area in front of you, a larger dining area to your right, a gift shop to your left and a bar area ahead of you, elevated some from the rest of the place.

Go to the right, into the main dining room (going up a step up to do so -- that step has a novelty road sign beside it, indicating the step-up, which hints that people have tripped on it enough to warrant a novelty sign about it be placed there). Once there, look for Goodrich Tires sign on an outlaying wall above a table and a Route 101 road sign to the right of that.

Behind the outlaying wall is a corridor (between the Goodrich sign and the Route 101 sign). The bathrooms are down that corridor, clearly marked.

What's it like?

This friendly tavern/cafe sits at the intersection of Route 64, which heads to the Grand Canyon, and the famous Route 66, which crosses the U.S. and is a popular byway for road travelers. The business itself is in the small town of Williams, which is about an hour south of the Grand Canyon.

Clearly, being on that famous roadway has inspired this eatery, as the this looks and feels more like a garage converted into a restaurant and all the decor here is all about being on the open road. Roadster-, biker- and driving-themed items pack the place, including a bevvy of road signs, faux advertisements for various car-based goods (like the aforementioned Goodrich sign), and lots of clever car-based twists (like the six-foot tool box used to store the silverware).

Of course, taken at face value, it's just a theme restaurant with a car fetish. But thankfully the food and drink are wonderful and well-priced (and enormously portioned), making it a worthwhile stop if you're heading to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon, as it's right on your way.

The menu consists of several diner favorites, like burgers and chicken and such, but they are prepared with much care and devotion to quality -- and you sense that upon the first bite. The burger is a mammoth half pound of fresh beef and taste gloriously of the grill it was cooked on. Salads highlight the freshness of the ingredients and quality of the house-made dressings. And the house specialty, the BBQ beef short ribs, are slow cooked on a smoker sitting out out on the front patios; they are succulent, juicy and enormous -- and smothered in a sticky-sweet sauce. Sheer heaven.

In addition, the eatery sits next to the Grand Canyon Brewery, a small micro-brew that produces six delicious beers, and proudly serves those concoctions on tap. Beers range from light and fruity wheats to crisp pale ales to hearty stouts. Though the brews are somewhat indicative of classic American west microbrews (lots of hops, origins in traditional German brewing styles), they also carry a sweetness to them and lighter body than you might expect, especially in the stout. Definitely worth a try if you're here.

Also worth checking out are the cleverly designed bathrooms here, which extend the car theme of the dining room to even greater heights.

These are one-room, one-bagger chambers, with one sink, one toilet and one urinal (in the men's room) -- each your standard white porcelain model. The floors are a regular grey tile (as seen countless places, like the Tamarisk Restaurant in Green River, UT and various Sam's Club wholesale stores).

But in addition those standard foundation elements are many other goodies to see and play with.

Like the dining room, the walls are covered with car memorabilia, framed photographs of classic roadsters and various hubcaps. The toilet stall is wrapped in a heavy rubber curtain, like the old stalls used by mechanics back in the day, and a pickup cargo bay (just the metal) of an old Ford pickup.

Yes, that's right: The actual cargo bay from the truck has been removed from the junky old car, repainted and stuck to the wall here to serve as the hard wall to the toilet stall. Very clever.

A similar trick has been pulled by the urinal, which for a privacy barrier has the removed door of a car. A nice touch.

Indeed, one of the most fun toilet experiences you'll have -- and the funkiest bathroom we've seen since our visit to Bongo Java in Nashville, TN. (Though I imagine if the place is crowded and you really have to go, those many distractions and decorations may hold up the line some.)

The place was pretty clean for the most part too, which I imagine can be difficult in a place like this, which is very kiddie friendly. Let's not forget how horrid the kiddie-friendly toilets at Island of Adventure's Toon Lagoon were -- and they were cleaned regularly by an army of staff. So I have to commend them further on that, since the place was pretty busy on my visit and clearly the toilet have been used several times before my entry.

Marks out of 10:

8. Just a really fun restaurant and bathroom.

Comments to the Management:

Not sure what to recommend. Clearly, you've gone out of way to make the bathroom fun -- and that it is!

No comments: