PIONEERTOWN — In some ways, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace owners Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz have loud music to thank for their quiet success.
Over the span of a decade, Pappy & Harriet’s has progressed. It’s long been a locally treasured roadside cantina set amid a town built for Western films. The restaurant and bar now carries its weight as the Hi-Desert’s signature Southwest eatery and a renowned country and blues rock venue.
From the outside, the property still looks rustic and unassuming. That’s part of the charm. Even after spending the last 10 years bringing the restaurant and venue to a higher caliber, owners Celia and Krantz have done little to detract from the venue’s authenticity.
As they celebrate their 10-year anniversary of ownership, Krantz and Celia are modest about their accomplishments and vision for the future.
“Our plans are just to keep going. Keep Pappy’s real and down to earth,” Celia said.
When the women purchased the place 10 years ago, it had just been sold. Celia and Krantz, both New York natives, would visit Pioneertown on trips to California and soon made it a staple of their visits.
“We were both a bit disenchanted by our lives in NYC,” Celia recalled. “Linda was in the film business and I was in a band that wasn’t going anywhere. Linda had done a film in Pioneertown in the ’90s and told all of us about this place.”
Celia remembers visiting one year and being disappointed with the place. She and Linda soon found out it had been sold, so they took a leap of faith.
“Back then it was easy to get a loan and we bought the club with credit cards,” Celia said.
Since taking the reins, the owners have elevated the venue’s appeal into a venue for indie rock and alt-country music, dinner, a night out with friends and even weddings.
“I don’t think we ever had big plans. Not failing was all we really thought about,” Celia admitted.
Perhaps it’s the owners’ approach that’s contributed to the venue’s success.
The former owner and half the venue’s namesake, Harriet, who requested her last name not be mentioned, said running the place was always a labor of love. She gave a nod to Celia and Krantz.
“They’re doing a great job; it’s a lot of work,” Harriet said by phone Thursday. “That’s all I ever hoped for Pappy & Harriet’s was to see it continue.”
Celia and Krantz have carried on Harriet and the late Pappy’s legacy, while slowly infusing their personal touches into the place.
Over the years, the desert locale has become more inviting to young adults and big-city urbanites looking for a quirky getaway with Southwest charm.
Photos of Billy Corgan, Shelby Lynne and Thurston Moore — all performers there over the last decade — now hang on the wall above original wood floors and exposed masonry walls.
They’re also expanding on the experience. This year, Krantz and Celia purchased and rehabbed a quaint property just adjacent to the venue, which they dubbed the “Little House.” The place houses tourists, musicians and people who just want a home away from home for the night.
A few years ago, Pappy & Harriet’s was put up for sale to “the right buyer,” as Celia explained back in 2010. The restaurant and bar has since been taken off the market and the owners have no plans to sell right now.
Reflecting on their tenure, the women say the most rewarding fruits of their labor are the people.
“Just seeing how happy people are when they come here,” Celia said. “Seeing all walks of life under one roof having a great time.”