There was a time when the Little A’le ’Inn in Rachel was not there. There was a time when the town of Rachel wasn’t there either, but that’s another story for another day.
Focus now on the Inn.
The place is world-famous, really. And not just because of its very close proximity to the secretive Area 51, but because of the restaurant itself.
Owners Pat Travis-Laudenklos and Bill Laudenklos run the business along with Pat’s daughter Connie West, who is the general manager. Pat says, “It’s a destination stop for foreign travelers. It’s amazing the people that come from everyplace and want to come here specifically. This is their stop, where they want to be.”
It’s loaded with alien souvenirs, which Pat said they put in the store not long after it opened, and it may be one of the largest selections to be found anywhere, to go along with lots of stories from the many locals who frequent the place.
The restaurant gift shop has a variety of Area 51 and UFO related items for sale such as maps of the area, posters, T-shirts, postcards, toys, etc., and is also famous for its “Alien Burger”.
In July 2014, Pat says she will start year 26. “It was the Rachel Bar and Grill when my late husband (Joe Travis) and I took it over in 1988, and in 1990 we changed the name to the Little A’le ’Inn. We kind of thought the name would let people know we’re not a great big giant place, and when we used Ale the way we do, foreign travelers would know there was drink and food here, as a rule, and the word Inn meaning rooms.”
Pat says as she looks back over those many years, which like most all small businesses, experienced their share of hard times, and struggles, “It all goes down to what a compliment it is to have our place as well known in Lincoln County as anyone could ever believe.”
Joe and Pat came from Las Vegas in 1988 at the request of D.C. Day, founder of Rachel. A cook in Las Vegas for many years, including the Silver Nugget, Pat said she had always wanted to own her own place, and when the offer came to take over the bar and grill, they took it. “It was a gift from God put in our hands.”
Pat said originally, the Rachel Bar and Grill was a doublewide house trailer. “It was quite small,” she remembers, “it had six bar stools and five people could sit at the bar.”
Over the years, Joe expanded the restaurant and tripled the floor space and enlarged the dining area. “Eventually we added trailer houses that serve as 13 motel rooms. They are very clean, very neat. People love the peace and quiet. I get a lot of return customers from Las Vegas,” she said.
There is enough private, as well as commercial truck traffic on SR 375, the famous Extraterrestrial Highway, the restaurant stays open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. In the winter months, they close at 9 p.m.
Pat views her six employees as “family.” “That’s how we feel about all of us.” Business was so good in 2013,” Pat said, “we didn’t have go to winter hours until the first of December.”
The arrival of the popular sport of geocaching on highway 375 has brought in a lot to the entire County, Pat noted. “They can’t get here to do the cache without coming from somewhere, like Alamo, Ash Springs, Ely, Pioche, and Caliente. People even fly in from other places and other countries. She said the world’s top five geocachers have all been at the Inn at one time or another in a period of just a couple of months. “We even have some caches in the building,” she said.
One thing Pat is most proud of is the restaurant recently received a 99-point rating from the Southern Nevada Health District. “To me that was a really good commendation. I’m not afraid to serve anything to anybody.”
A good time for anyone to visit Little A’le ’Inn would be during Rachel Days this May 17.
Aliens are welcome, too, because intergalactic travelers also like a place to stop for good food and conversation.