After months of anticipation, as frequent commuters and visitors trekking up Highway 41 between Atascadero and Morro Bay wondered what might become of a landmark watering hole, doors at the Halfway Station tentatively opened in early April.
Most recently known as Last Stage West, with an address technically in Atascadero, the old fuel stop and roadhouse is smack halfway between the two cities and, according to clip files from local publications, was known as Halfway Market from 1948 to 1971. Neighbors remember the place being surrounded by Harley Davidsons in the 1970s. Then the Halfway Station Store and Market operated through the 1980s when the venue became Last Stage West in two different iterations, as a destination for bluegrass and country music officanados through the late 1990s and early 2000s. Closing once as a fire gutted the original establishment and being reopened with its current building, and changing hours since 2012, the facility was sold after briefly being considered as an event center for cannabis industry conferences.
The new owners (four of them in a family partnership) have reopened with a cleaned up interior featuring repurposed barn and fence-wood from around the property, and plan to offer, “a modern casual restaurant experience,” with, “artfully crafted seasonal dishes.”
A hit already in the handful of days they’ve been open since early April, are chef Autumn King’s trademark Buffalo “Wing” Cauliflower, a vegan offering in Korean Cochujang sauce, which compliments decidedly meatier Bratwurst sandwiches and burgers with bacon and Big Rock Blue Cheese.
Kristin Zaitz, in charge of getting the word out about the venue’s changeover while working a full time job for PG&E, said it was her husband, Omega, who was the “crazy one” seeing the former roadhouse on the market and convincing the others to go in with him. He also did all the contracting work for the refurbishment himself.
“It was really a lot of tearing down decorations and cleaning up for a fresh start,” he said, noting that while the space is no longer a recording studio, they’ll still be having musicians by for guests, as well as an extended family of the musically inclined.
“We’re still a little unsure where this will take us,” Kristin Zaitz said, adding that they were counting down to a more formal grand opening in the first week of May, and refining how they run the restaurant.
Notable items on the beer and wine list include Torro Creek’s Red Ale along with popular selections from larger regional brewers Barrel House, Figueroa Mountain and Central Coast Brewing. As good wine flows like water on the Central Coast, they have a smaller glass and bottle service selection from nearby vineyards.
“We’re definitely open to suggestion right now,” she added.
At the moment hours are limited to: Thursday – 11:30a.m. – 9p.m.; Friday – 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday – 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Sunday – 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Their website is www.halfwaystation41.com
Camas Frank has been a San Luis Obispo County print journalist for over a decade. First drawn to the Central Coast for a stint at Cal Poly, he’s focused on community affairs, people and technology.