A giant jukebox welcomes hungry patrons at Peggy Sue’s and when they pass through they enter a chaotic but delightful 50s wonderland with life size statues of icons from the era, walls plastered with pictures of actors and musicians, as 50s tunes dance through the air. Waitresses is turquoise uniforms give you a nod and welcome you to sit where you like before placing a bubblegum pink menu full of classic American staples in your hands.
Peggy Sue is indeed the owner Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner, and the diner is her and her husband’s love letter to the 50s, especially to 50s Hollywood. Peggy and her husband Champ met while working at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Bird Cage Theatre and she continued with an acting career before becoming a full-time mother. By 1987 they were done with the bustle of the greater Los Angeles area and moved out to the desert, buying the abandoned Country Kitchen, built in 1954 out of railroad ties. Peggy started with her grandmother’s recipes, and things grew from there. The funky menu has a lot of offer, plus there’s a pizza parlor in the back! The original diner featured just nine counter stools and three booths, but today it’s a sprawling maze of nearly 10,000 square feet with walls covered in artwork featuring celebrities of the 50s, photos of Peggy during her time as an actress, and newspaper and magazine articles about the restaurant.
But if you think Peggy Sue’s is just a restaurant, then you’re wrong! Off to one side is the 5 & Dime Gift Shop and Soda Fountain (added in 1995), which features a bejeweled cheeseburger. Adding to the classic roadside vibe, they created the Diner-Saur Park that features ponds and giant dinosaur statues, however it was undergoing some construction during our visit.
Peggy Sue’s is a delightfully kitschy, gaudy and rose-tinted homage to the 50s with a spectacular roadside tourist trap vibe as well, all of which I am here for. Whether you’re visiting Calico or en route to or from Vegas, Peggy Sue’s is worth the stop.