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Santa Clarita Community Rallies To Save Saugus Cafe

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to save the Saugus Cafe in the face of the COVID-19 restaurant dining closure.

Saturday, Yecenia Mercado, current Saugus Cafe owner, set up a social funding campaign to help keep the 100 year old restaurant open following the restrictions made on businesses to keep L.A. County residents safer from the coronavirus.

“I’ve seen my dad work so hard throughout these years and it breaks my heart seeing him struggling due to the restrictions Covid 19 has caused,” Mercado wrote. “Saugus Cafe Is L.A. County’s oldest restaurant and I refuse to see all of my dad’s hard work go down the drain, please help save Saugus Cafe, please save all small businesses!”

Saugus Cafe, originally named the Tolfree Saugus Eating House, first opened in 1888 and has now been open for 132 years.

Saugus Cafe opened at a time when the town of Newhall, named after Henry Mayo Newhall, was growing rapidly due to the construction of the South Pacific Rail Network connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which passed by the area.

See Related: Spotlight Bites: Saugus Cafe, The Oldest Open Restaurant In L.A. County

The restaurant was opened by James Herbert Tolfree and was located near the Saugus train station. Tolfree sold the restaurant, along with a portion of land, to brothers Richard and Martin Wood in 1899. The brothers shortened the name of the restaurant to the Saugus Cafe, according to SCV History.

Martin would go on to manage the restaurant and eventually move the cafe to where it stands today.

Over the course of its history, the restaurant has served many famed historical figures, including William Mulholland, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, William S. Hart and Charlie Chaplin. Additionally, presidents Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt dropped in for bites at the eatery, with Roosevelt allegedly calling his New York-style steak “splendid”.

See Related: L.A. County Board Of Supervisors Uphold Temporary Shutdown Of Outdoor Dining

In 1994, Karen and David Nardiello bought the property and renovated it. After that acquisition, Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Barrymore entered the restaurant to shoot part of a film there.

Saugus Cafe is known for having a wide variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Their menu includes traditional breakfast foods like steak and eggs, pancakes, sausage and omelets. Burgers and sandwiches are available on the lunch menu.

The cafe’s most popular dish is the country fried steak, which is on the dinner menu.

Saugus Cafe plans to continue serving hearty meals at a reasonable price in its signature homey atmosphere. The diner is located at 25861 Railroad Ave. in Newhall. To donate to the fundraiser, visit this site.

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Santa Clarita Community Rallies To Save Saugus Cafe


  1. There is only one person that could save this and other small businesses as well as assist the general public with another relief check to help until we can resume a more normal existence but Mitch McConnell has no interest in commoners. He refuses to bring such bills already passed by the house to the senate floor for consideration.

    • @Denny

      You REALLY need a civic’s lession.

      1. Federal Money isn’t the issue or solution for a State / County issue. It was Newsom and the County that shut restaurants down.
      2. BOTH sides are to blame for the stalled talks. Your blinders just dont let you see it.

      The issue is with Newsom and the County. Direct your complaints there. They are hurting the business. They shut it down. Not the federal government.

      The bailout money isn’t enough to keep places open. the PPP proved that.

      • Perhaps we all could use a lesson or many in civics, Don. In hard times like we are now in, relief funding from any source helps us all. People buy food, pay their rent, clothe their children etc., all that money going back into the local economy. It is a win all the way around. McConnell wants that money locked away until 2026 for some undisclosed reason when the need is N O W.

        • Yeah Don! I’m sure they would rather have one of your civics lessions than basic government assistance.

          • You’re missing the point Dennis

            Why patch it money for a short pop when the real solution is to open food service and let the money come in that way. That’s a Newsom and County issue.

            Let me ask you. Film production is allowed to have large outdoor dining yet the general public. If you live in SCV, drive through the industrial center at lunch time. You will clearly see all the outdoor dining they are allowed to do but the general public isn’t. Is that the federal government mandating that? NO. it’s the state and county.

            Focus the anger where it should be. The State and County.

      • Actually, it was “VIRUS” that closed down everything ….Don

        • Film crews take covid tests and follow strict guidelines, that the assumed publication might not, and are not required too follow. I think these guys should receive assistance despite what you think.

  2. This is one of the reasons we love our community!

  3. With this virus it’s about small victories. My daughter loves this place and my friends and I ate many times there during midnight shift. I really hope people pass the hat and can save this place. Can’t count on the feds or state to get this right. It’s about people helping people now.

  4. if the government (we the people) requires that a business curtails its normal activity, its livelyhood, then the government (we the people) is resoonsible to help them financially.

  5. How much in PPP loans did they already receive? I thought we believe in capitalism, not socialism. Why don’t you let them fail?

    • They aren’t failing because they are bad business people or because of any market related effects.
      They are in trouble because of the shutdown. The government shut them down so the government should assist them.

  6. How is the money going to be spent? I heard from a connected source that the manager just got back from partying in Cancun. Are donations going to be used for other than helping Saugus Cafe stay in business?

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About David Melnarik

David Melnarik was born and raised in Santa Clarita, graduating from Hart Senior High School in 2014. David is currently a Video and News intern at KHTS with plans to complete his Associates Degree of Arts in filmmaking at College of the Canyons in Spring 2019.