Trona, Oct 19  – Fire late today destroyed the huge Trona Coffee Shop, the town’s only restaurant, and the sole eating place for 1,000 unmarried male employees of the big American Potash & Chemical Co. desert plant.
Tonight it looked as thought they will have a diet of sandwiches and coffee for next few days. The company is rushing plans to bring in a big circus tent and equip it with a dining room and kitchen but this will take several days at least.
The fire was discovered in the coffee shop’s kitchen at 4:45 p.m. Apparently nobody knows just how it started. The kitchen suddenly was enveloped in in flames.
Both the Trona and Argus volunteer fire departments arrived quickly, but were powerless to do much more than control the blaze They devoted most of their efforts to saving the bunkhouses which flank the coffee shop.
At 7:30 the last ember had been extinguished and the capacious restaurant was a charred ruin. Able to seat 200 patrons at one time, it was sorely missed by the workmen who had watched the flames eat up the building, George Sturtevant, editor of the Trona Argonaut, reported.
Immediately the company and civic leaders of Trona and Argus, neighboring community, got busy. Their first move was to get provisions and supplies for the town’s few soda fountains, for it is at these snack bars that Trona’s meals will be served for the next few days. It was decided to provide free bus service to Argus, where there is a restaurant.
Firemen said the lack of wind was all that prevented the bunkhouses from catching fire.
The building was owned by American Potash & Chemical Co. Operator of the coffee shop was the Swafford Co. The loos was unofficially estimated at $250,000.
San Bernardino County Sun 19, Oct 1950