The El Garces was part of the Fred Harvey chain of hotel restaurants that extended along the Santa Fe Railroad to provide meals and lodging. It was considered the “Crown Jewel” of the entire chain and was remembered for the real linen and silver, distinctive china and fresh flowers provided for its guests every day. Food was of the highest quality. Waitresses were cultured young ladies, some from foreign lands. They received special training in neatness, courtesy and excellent service. They were required to sign a contract not to marry for one year. Many eventually married railroad men. Harvey girls and management lived upstairs.
There were also rooms for paying guests. The facility included a laundry and a bakery. El Garces served lunch and dinner. The lunchroom has two horseshoe shaped counters and could serve many people.
TODAY, the El Garces is owned by the City of Needles. A $10 million dollar restoration project is funded by OmniTrans & the FTA. Plenty of work has gone into the building to stabilize the structure since it’s built date of 1908.
Construction will be underway again in the Fall 2012 with a completion of a El Garces Intermodal Facility which will serve Needles Area Transit and Amtrak, and will likely be a stop, and on to regional service in Barstow.