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American diner food with ’50s flair

Sisters Tiffany (left) and Kimberly Saxelby opened Sax’s Joint, a ’50s-style diner on Petaluma Boulevard South last month. The restaurant serves up dishes such as “The Joint” pancake and “Chicken-n-Waffles.”

Victoria Webb/for the Argus-Courier
Published: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.

We love a good diner, and the Saxelby family has created just that at the site of the former Marvin’s Restaurant at 317 Petaluma Blvd. South.



Style: ’50s diner
Kid friendly: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Reservations: no
Prices: $$ to $$$
Hours: 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Location: 317 Petaluma Blvd. South
Phone: 559-3021
(Prices for entrée and beverage: $$$$ more than $20; $$$ $14 to $20; $$ $9 to $14; $ less that $9)

Named after their dad “Sax,” who’s portrait graces the counter area, sisters Kimberly and Tiffany, along with their mom “Mee Maw,” have undertaken a labor of love and elbow grease for the last few months to create Sax’s Joint, a ’50s style diner with all the trimmings.

In homage to the Pink Ladies of “Grease,” they have decorated their diner in bubble gum pink, black and white checkerboard, and chrome, and play a steady stream of ’50s and early 60s music on the jukebox. My favorite decorative touch was a panoramic photo of the Petaluma Junior High School’s class of 1951.

The waitstaff have all been hand picked to fit the feel and atmosphere of the restaurant — the “girls” wear pink hankerchiefs in their ponytails, black eyeliner “cat eyes,” and make friends with all the customers, treating them more like family than clients.

There is a front counter and booth area (with a large family booth that seats six), a back room with smaller booths and tables, and outdoor seating on the garden patio or out front, next to a pink motorcycle. There is parking area available in the rear off of Second Street.

Open since Aug. 19, the Joint’s menu contains a wide selection of diner style offerings. They are open from 5 a.m. until 3 p.m. serving breakfast and lunch. Each day brings an assortment of specials, but every day offerings include hearty breakfasts of eggs, chicken fried steak, hash, omelettes, hot cakes and french toast. They even offer their special “Joint” breakfast, which is a pancake the size of a large pizza.

For lunch, there are delicious ½ pound burgers made of Angus ground beef, a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, and an assortment of soups, salads, and sandwiches served with fries or Mee Maw’s special coleslaw or potato salad.

For your sweet tooth, they bake their own cakes and pastries, make their own jams, and serve ice cream floats and milkshakes.

The Saxelby sisters have been working in and around Petaluma in restaurants for the past 25 years. On the advice of their dad, who passed away three years ago and who Kimberly Saxelby describes as their biggest fan, they decided that if they were going to work so hard it might as well be for themselves.

She wants all her patrons to feel they have come as their guests, not just their customers. She said that if there is something wrong with your visit, she would prefer that you tell her so she can make it right.

The building was originally White’s Dairy and is made of poured concrete, so they are still working on the acoustics. They genuinely want to know if you enjoyed your food, and if there’s something you think they could improve on.

For lunch, I opted for “Just a Burger” ($10). It came cooked medium, just as ordered, on a dinner roll style bun, baked locally at Penngrove’s Full Circle Bakery. It was served with the fixings of lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion, along with a healthy serving of Mee Maw’s own potato salad that contains eggs and sweet pickles, just like you would get at a family picnic.

My date had the “Meatloaf special,” which was two slices of Mee Maw’s meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, skins included, and sweet coleslaw ($12), all of which he succinctly described as “great.”

My initial impression of the platters were that they were visually sparse (no fancy garnishes or frills). But I soon realized that our meals were delicious and I would not be able to finish mine since this was more than enough food. Those frills are completely unnecessary when you are looking for a good solid meal.

Last, but certainly not least, we shared a chocolate malt ($5) which was so thick that I was just about able to sip it up through the straw.

For those of you who have never had a malted milk shake (and for me its been quite a while), I highly recommend it.

(Contact Lynn Haggerty King at argus@arguscou rier.com)

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