Lunch at Tiffany's
February 21, 1997
Williams, Arizona is a small town located about 55 miles south of the Grand Canyon and is home of the Grand Canyon Railway, once the only means to actually get to the Canyon itself. It's on a section of historic Route 66 And while it may have been a booming town at one point, in February at least, it seems to be quiet. Most everything appears to be closed for the evening by 10:00 p.m.
You can visit the Grand Canyon Railway, but mostly the town is comprised of low to moderately priced motels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. We took a look at the train at the Railway and walked through the Depot and gift shop when we realized it was already past noon and we had to get back on our southern route. We were hungry since the evening before we had missed all available restaurants and had to content ourselves with a sandwich from McDonalds, so decided to find a restaurant before leaving town.
Keeping the Fodor's travel guide to Arizona handy, we noticed an interesting place mentioned:
We stopped briefly at the visitor's center to confirm directions to Tiffany's. I asked the woman working at the visitor's center if Tiffany's was a good choice.
"Oh, yes," she answered, "it's a lot of fun."
We easily found a parking place and walked into a dubious looking brick building. There were tables on either side of the room and lots of gas station memorabilia on the walls, so we knew it was the right spot. There was one other table with customers: a mother and her son who spent most of his time in the small video arcade off the dining room.
We sat down for a few minutes but didn't see anyone working, no waiter nor any other person that might be an employee. We took a look at the menus that were on the table. They were photocopied on sheets of different brightly colored papers and all were extremely grease stained. Llewellyn finally walked around the corner and found a waitress. Apparently there was another room with a huge bar just around the corner. Most customers didn't sit where we had chosen, we were later told, so no one had noticed our presence.
This second room had incredible amounts of gas station memorabilia. Huge old gas pumps, metal signs, lots and lots of photographs fill much of the available wall space and we were immediately taken with it. The waitress took our order: coffee for Llewellyn, diet coke for me and a pizza to share. Then, we strolled around the restaurant looking at their decor. On this side of the restaurant there was one other customer, a man who sat at the bar, so wandering around was no problem and we had our choice of tables.
A couple minutes later the waitress brought our drinks. There was no cream for Llewellyn's coffee and he assumed she had forgotten it. A few long minutes went by and finally Llewellyn, catching a glimpse of her, asked for some.
"It's right there on the table," she told him.
"No," Llewellyn politely told her, "there isn't any. I looked. I wouldn't have asked you otherwise."
She came out and checked our table, then began looking at all the tables. All we could think of was she was looking for a container of milk or cream that had been sitting out all morning. She went table to table looking when finally at the fourth or fifth table, she found what she had been seeking. Returning to our table, she placed a handful of Creamora packets next to Llewellyn's coffee mug.
Llewellyn looked disappointed. "I was kind of hoping it might be real milk or cream," he said.
"Oh, no!!," the waitress responded, "we don't have that here anymore. We gave that up more than 6 months ago. Everytime we would buy it, it would always go bad on us. We would go to use it and it would be turned. It just didn't last long enough so now we only use this. We stopped that a long time ago."
"Didn't Fodor's say this is a popular restaurant?" Llewellyn asked me after the waitress had left. "I wonder what they do if they need to use milk or cream in a recipe."
After a while our pizza arrived, we were hungry and ate it despite the fact the crust reminded me of the times my mother would try to make pizza and use Bisquick to make the dough. I tried to remember if milk was a requirement for making anything out of Bisquick.
I reread the Fodor's description later and tried to imagine Tiffany's as a "lively fun spot," but had great difficulty doing so. Maybe it's seasonal fun, because after all, February is off season. But then I thought of the pizza and lack of milk or cream and couldn't imagine anyone traveling to Tiffany's for the food either. Thinking of the woman at the Visitor's Center, who had also endorsed the place, I wondered if fun in Arizona was just like the countryside: more rugged. Perhaps I had just not yet adapted.
But then, we had managed to find it, and we owed it all to Fodor's. This makes me wonder about contributers to Fodor's and if there is any authentication of submissions. I imagined Tiffany herself, in the middle of a cold January night after a hard day in her "Lube Lounge" writing a letter to Fodor's extolling the virtues of her own place. Like the mysticism in "Field of Dreams" -- "If you write it, they will come."
However, to give credit where it is due, Tiffany's does have lots of the memorabilia they tout in Fodor's, although the restaurant menu will invite you to visit their new gas station memorabilia museum located elsewhere, so it may be there is far less on display than there once was.
If you have a need to see the memorabilia, you can have some photos taken outside amid the gas pumps and some non-hanging Mobil and and Goodyear Tire signs.
If you decide to be tempted by the "lively fun and Italian specials" within, just be sure, should you be a coffee drinker, to ask about the cream first.
Photos by Llewellyn Lafford