Valley News -

By Codie Hays

Temecula businesses recognize Old West heritage


Last updated 7/13/2018 at 1:12pm

Shane Gibson

The oldest building in Old Town Temecula still operating is the Swing Inn Café, now offering great food and fast service for its 80th year.

A trip down the wooden boardwalks of Temecula's Old Town Front Street winding its way through historic buildings, antique stores and restaurants is a bit like stepping back in time to the Old West.

Years of change and revamping have been under way since Old Town has been up and running, but restaurants like the Swing Inn Cafe and The Bank have kept to their historical roots.

With the first U.S. Post Office opening in Temecula more than 150 years ago, Old Town has over a dozen of the original historical properties that have been repurposed and reopened. With endless antique shops, unique shopping, restaurants and bars, visitors can have a jam-packed itinerary.

The oldest building in Old Town Temecula still operating is the Swing Inn Cafe. Opened in 1927, the Swing Inn has celebrated decades of beloved food and service. Open seven days a week, the cafe is the longest continuous-running business in the whole valley, serving breakfast all day. Although visitors can't get a porterhouse steak for 20 cents anymore, they can still get biscuits and gravy for 99 cents all day long.

The Rauton family have owned the cafe for three generations and always guarantee a friendly welcome upon every visit. Current owners, Ken and Diane Rauton, said that other than adding an additional dining space in the 1970s, the building has stayed remotely the same. Located at 28676 Front Street, in Temecula, the Swing Inn Cafe is open every day, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and is a "must visit" spot.

Originally referred to as the "hock shop," the First National Bank of Temecula was completed March 27, 1914. The committee for construction and management of the bank included Eli Barnett Shumate, Hugo Guenther, George Burnham, Frank Fernald, Alex and Peter Escallier and Joe Winkles. Located in Old Town Temecula, management decided that loans were not to be more than $2,500 regardless of the applicant or their collateral value.

The first bank robbery in all Riverside County was at Temecula's First National Bank in 1930. The bank robber, Miguel Diaz, arrived at 9 a.m. and began to demand money from the teller, Miss Agnes Freeman. He escaped with $2,000 cash but with help from local residents, he surrendered and was caught just a few miles up the road.

The bank had a good run, but it couldn't recover after the depression of the '30s, the bank shortage of the '40s and World War II. The building remained empty until 1965 when Bob Reininger turned it into an antique shop called, "Sign of the Pitcher." A few years later, the former bank was carefully refurbished and took on a new life as an authentic, homestyle Mexican restaurant. The restaurant has been serving delicious food since 1978 and is called "The Bank" in remembrance of its historical origins.

The Bank of Mexican Food restaurant is known to satisfy anyone's taste buds with their wide variety of meals. With endless soup and salad options, specialty entrees and appetizers from ceviche and menudo to sweet potato fries, guests won't run out of options. The Bank has a killer happy hour menu, Monday through Friday, 3-7 p.m. with drink and appetizer deals. Located at 28645 Old Town Front Street, The Bank of Mexican Food keeps Temecula history alive while serving delicious food.

Cody Hays can be reached by email at [email protected]


Reader Comments

tomsuttle writes:

Took my memory back to another western town, another era. Early 60's, near Golden Colo, a western theme park (fated, sadly, to be short lived) called East Tincup, had something that would be cool in today's world: A VERY realistic 1880's style saloon, complete with horses, six-guns, swinging doors, raucous piano music, bar with handlebar-mustached tender, persons of ill-repute (acting), and tables for (real) gambling. But, we already have too much local alcohol; and modern laws prevail.


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