Call us today! (760) 227-3227
Owned & Operated by the Chiriaco Family Since 1933.

History

We've Got a Rich History of Homemade Food and Service 
in Chiriaco Summit

ABOUT

Before we were serving homemade food to customers in Chiriaco Summit, we were just a stop in the dust. At Chiriaco Summit Coffee Shop, we're proud of our rich history. Joe Chiriaco, the founder of both our restaurant and of Chiriaco Summit, came out west in 1927 to be present while Alabama played Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Instead of returning to his home in Alabama, he became a surveyor with the Los Angeles Bureau of Water and Power. He first came into the desert for work, heading to an area known as Shaver Summit. After several years, he settled down at this site and purchased it from J.E. Cram of Mentone, California. When rumors surfaced of a paved road connecting Indio with Phoenix, Joe began to construct a building, and on August 15, 1933, he opened his gas station and general store. He started with one dollar in his cigar box til, and that dollar remains at the Summit, now a desert landmark named for him. That same day, the newly constructed two-lane blacktop U.S. 60 opened, and it passed right in front of his little store. Because of this, his gas station and general store thrived, and so did he!

Joe Takes a Wife

While Joe was working as a surveyor, he met a Norwegian nurse from Minnesota. He fell for this blonde beauty, who worked at the Coachella Valley Hospital in Indio. The two married on June 25, 1934. While living at the Summit, they lived as pioneers - gas lights, generators for power, a very limited supply of water, and long 18-hour days of serving the traveling public. All of this was done without air conditioning!

From Shaver Summit to Chiriaco Summit

In 1958, the area got a rural branch of the U.S. Post Office, and the name was changed from Shaver Summit to Chiriaco Summit, honoring Joe and his family. Today, Chiriaco Summit is owned by Joe & Ruth's children and managed by their grandchildren. Their great-granddaughter, Cecilia, works behind the counter, as well as working on new business ideas for the future, continuing the family tradition of friendly customer service.  Joe's son, Robert serves as the general manager, and his daughter Margit continues to work in all facets of the business. After embodying the spirit of the desert for many years, Joe and Ruth passed away within months of each other in the spring of 1996. They are dearly missed. In March of 2015, they were honored as desert pioneers with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, and will have their story published in late 2016, "Chiriaco Summit: Success by Love in the Desert", written by Dr. Mary Gordon.

General George S. Patton Stops In

At around the same time Joe Chiriaco was starting his business, the Metropolitan Water District began constructing an aqueduct meant to carry water from the Colorado River to the Los Angeles area. Once the aqueduct was completed, things calmed down in the desert until 1942. In the spring, General George S. Patton established the Desert Training Center, headquartered at Camp Young, just adjacent to Shaver Summit. Joe's gas station and general store was the only on-limit place for the soldiers for many miles. Paul Wilhelm, a former soldier in the area at the time, said, "Everything about Shaver's Summit-of-the-road dispensary drew us like bees to blossoms." Three years later, Joe and Ruth Chiriaco created a rugged memorial to General Patton at Chiriaco Summit. Today, there is a museum honoring the General George S. Patton and the Desert Training Center thanks to Margit Chiriaco Rusche and the Bureau of Land Management.
General George S. Patton visited our coffee shop in Chiriaco Summit, CA

Come Visit Our Coffee Shop Today! 

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