Ranch House celebrates 80 years

There’s a sense of nostalgia when you walk into the Ranch House Restaurant. Sitting at the top of Yarnell Hill,  the lunch counter, reminiscent of days gone by, entices travelers and locals alike to sit and listen to the stories that are being told while enjoying  a fresh cup of coffee and one of the many homemade items that grace the menu.  

The old license plates, signs and knick knack’s on the walls are more than just decorations, they’re pieces of history that echo a past when gold was still actively mined in the area, the ranching industry boomed and U.S. Highway 89, meandering through Yarnell, was the main route for travelers to get from Phoenix and Wickenburg to Prescott, Flagstaff and beyond.   

An undivided highway at the time, the route, known as “Yarnell Hill”, was not only traversed by everyday adventurers but was used as a main truck route for transport and even a pivotal route for the Greyhound Bus Line.  A two lane highway that was not any wider than the one way roads are now, going up or down the “Hill” could be a harrowing experience and at the time was considered one of the most dangerous roads in Arizona.

It was during this time that Ross and Mary Timmes opened the Ranch House in 1940. It stood as a beacon and provided a much needed spot for weary travelers to rest, get a bite to eat and relax before going up or down the hill. Fast becoming the “place to stop at the top of the hill” it was known for its steak dinners, hot coffee and welcoming atmosphere.

Since the opening of the restaurant, the Yarnell area along with the Ranch House has seen many changes.  Mining and ranching, although still industries in the area, are overshadowed by development. Once just a cluster of summer homes for Phoenix residents, the community of Yarnell has now become an area known for its antique and collectable businesses and a place year round retirees call home.

Current owner and longtime Yarnell resident Vicki Velasquez understood the importance of this iconic eatery when she purchased the business in 2014. Vowing to maintain its “legendary and historic caricature” for the benefit of the community, Velasquez and staff have upheld the tradition of feeding the countless travelers that pass along Highway 89. With snow birds, motorcycle enthusiasts and Ranch House fans as their main clientele, Velasques states that it is not uncommon for a customer to drive miles or detour through Yarnell just to get a bit to eat.

When asked about the continued success of the restaurant, Velasquez also attributes the popularity and longevity of the Ranch House to the support of the citizens of Yarnell . “This community is renowned for the friendliness of the residents and the unique nature of the area,” she adds “I also have a stellar staff that helps maintain the tradition of family atmosphere.”

Celebrating 80 this year, there is no doubt that there is something about the Ranch House that has enabled the business to endure. Although the days of ordering up a steak dinner late night may be gone, with its trademark “Ranch House” sign and its “everyone is welcome atmosphere” the Ranch House is still considered “the place to stop at the top of the “Hill”.

Open Thursday through Sunday 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., drop by and check out the array of delicious breakfast and lunch items at this historic spot. You can also check out their menu and website at www.ranchhouserestaurantyarnell.com

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