KINGMAN -The renovated Canyon 66 Restaurant and Lounge that opened last week inside the Ramada hotel is part Las Vegas kitsch, part historic Route 66.
Artwork of American icons such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe shares wall space with 15 television screens and columns of flashing colored lights while a DJ plays music in a booth cut out of a 1946 Ford pickup. A mirror ball hangs over a small dance floor.
Everything is new, including the full-circle bar that's the centerpiece of the restaurant. "We felt this place was being neglected," said Noble Zubaid, a California hotel operator who purchased the former Magnuson hotel with his brother, Joel, in 2013. "We wanted to resurrect it and turn it around. Kingman is a well-known place. A lot of transients pass through here and we saw opportunity here."
Zubaid would not disclose how much was spent on renovating the restaurant, except to say that it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A 90-inch TV has yet to be installed on the wall in the dance area.
There's nothing like the Canyon 66 Restaurant in Kingman, he said. It's not only an amenity for hotel guests, but also a dining and entertainment venue for locals. It has seating capacity for 200.
"Anybody who wants to have a good time, drink, get crazy. We have a lot of guests who want to come in and have a drink, even during the week," he said.
Jim Hinckley, a Kingman native and Route 66 historian, said there are a number of other motels along Route 66 with restaurants and bars, but none in Kingman. Few of them are renovated historic properties and even fewer are large enough to accommodate tour groups.
"Then, when you factor in the fact that Kingman has the greatest undeveloped tourism potential of any community on Route 66, this property becomes quite rare indeed," he said. "The resurgent interest in Route 66 is encouraging investors to renovate properties such as the Ramada."
The Aztec hotel in Monrovia, Calif., dating back to the 1920s, is undergoing renovation of its long-closed restaurant and bar. In Las Vegas, N.M., La Castaneda hotel, built in 1899, sat empty for almost 40 years and is now being renovated by the investor who brought La Posada in Winslow back to life.
Ramada general manager Bob Walton said the 97-room hotel at 3100 Andy Devine Ave. has increased group sales since rebranding as Ramada. The meeting room accommodates up to 60 people and has video and audio capabilities.
"I think with the restaurant and bar, we'll get more business. Like now, they just ordered pizza," Walton said, referring to a business group in the meeting room.
He said the Canyon 66 name reflects Kingman's ties to both Route 66 and the Grand Canyon, both of which draw a significant amount of international tourists.
Josh Noble, director of tourism for Kingman Chamber of Commerce, said he's glad to see the hotel renovations.
"It's the only full-service hotel with a restaurant and bar and it has historical nature as the old Holiday Inn. At one time it was one of the premier properties in town," he said.