Thanks for the Memories, Riviera Hotel and Summit Inn

SummitInnIt’s ironic that just one day after the last tower of the Riviera Hotel was imploded, the Summit Inn burned to the ground.

The Riviera was the ninth casino and the first high-rise to be built on the Las Vegas Strip. During its storied 60-year history, its marquee featured the names of entertainers from Frank Sinatra to Liberace, and from Dean Martin to George Burns.

The Summit Inn was much less glamorous but no less historic. It was perched on a hill along Old Route 66 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas — and that made it a stopping point for many entertainers headed to Vegas for a weekend stint or a longer residency.

The diner opened in 1952, but on Tuesday, it was reduced to smoldering rubble, the result of the so-called Blue Cut Fire, which quickly grew to an 18,000-acre inferno in California’s Cajon Pass. It was one of those places where the walls were adorned with photos of many of the celebrities who had stopped in for a plate of buttermilk pancakes, a baked meat loaf dinner, or an ostrich burger.

You could get a glass of “generic” wine for $3 or sparkling wine for $3.50 at the Summit Inn, but you were much better off spending a buck or so more for a shake — especially the diner’s date shakes.

Now, it’s nothing but ashes… just like the Riviera. For anyone who ever had a meal at either place, we raise a glass of (better) wine and propose a toast that another Riviera mainstay, Bob Hope, would have appreciated: “Thanks for the memories.”

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