Bill and Kathy's

Bill and Kathy’s was one of the great, independent, family-owned travel-oriented restaurants along I-5 that are now virtually extinct. Situated in Dunnigan just north of where 505 and 5 meet, it opened in 1947 and was long a popular stop for families making the boring trek through the dusty northern central valley. It closed a few years ago, and has been growing weeds ever since.

I ate there a handful of times over the years. The food was good and the people were nice, but the best part was the atmosphere in that place. It had a wonderful old-school vibe of hospitality and comfort designed for hungry, road-weary travelers. Whether you needed coffee to stay awake for another couple of hours or a solid meal in a nice comfortable booth, Bill and Kathy had you covered. It was, dare, I say, cozy.

For whatever reason, my folks never wanted to stop there despite the fact that we drove past it at least twice a month. Once I was older, I stopped there occasionally on my many travels up and down I-5. Paco and I had a pretty memorable meal one night when the guy sitting in the booth behind us randomly screamed “REUUUUUBEN!”, an experience that still defies explanation.

I regret that I never made a visit to Bill’s Doghouse, the small shack out in the parking lot where Bill presumably grilled franks on certain days. It seemed to always be closed anyway, so it may have been a seasonal thing. There’s still a small part of me that would like to know exactly what they served over there.

Anyway, I’m sad that this place no longer exists as a functional business. Hopefully some enterprising investor will see fit to reopen it someday, but I’m not holding my breath.
Here are some photos I took back in September of 2012, probably a year or so after it closed: