Sax’s Joint in Petaluma a modern classic diner
Sax’s Joint just celebrated their four-year anniversary but one visit and you would swear this Petaluma Boulevard South diner has been in operation for decades. The warmth of service, reasonable prices, and delicious food all harken back to what many might think of as a bygone era, but Sax’s Joint is keeping the idea of a neighborhood diner alive and well.
A modern iteration of the classic diner, the staff dress in 50’s attire, but with a shot of biker mixed in. In fact, it is not unusual to see one of the owner’s pink Harley sitting out front, accenting the pink highlights that have been added to the traditional black and white diner motif.
We have been dining at Sax’s Joint since it first opening, and have loved every meal. In fact, mine was the first Yelp review back in 2013 and we have been fans ever since. Shortly after opening, I was lucky enough to meet the owners while I was helping to organize the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff fundraiser, which is just one of many fundraisers that Sax’s now participates in.
Sax’s Joint is the joint venture of sisters Tiffany and Kimberly Saxelby, with a lot of help from mom, Julie Saxelby, as well as just about every family member and friend. Mom’s family is from Louisiana, which means comfort cooking is in her blood. In fact, many of the recipes are hers, including all the jams, which can be purchased, as well as the incredible cinnamon rolls, coleslaw, and potato salad.
Tiffany has always been in the restaurant industry, working restaurants in both the front and back of house, running her own taco truck, and specializing as a baker. Sister Kimberly has also been in and out of the restaurant industry throughout her life, finally settling with Tiffany as the bakers at Pepper’s, a home-style restaurant that used to sit in front of Safeway on the east side.
It was while working at Pepper’s that Tiffany and Kimberly’s father, came down with cancer. Born Conrad Saxelby, he picked up the nickname “Sax”, likely because his biker buddies did not want him being confused with his tea and crumpet sounding name. Having seen his daughters work so hard in order to make others’ dreams come true, one of his final wishes before passing away was for them to open up their own diner. As luck would have it, Angela DeCarli was a regular customer of theirs and informed them that her Marvin’s property, next to Pinky’s Pizza, was available.
“Everything here has always been good,” says Tiffany, referring to their Sax’s Joint location. “There’s just something in the walls about this place that makes it feel like home.” With the help of the whole extended Saxelby family, including kids, cousins, and friends, the diner opened to rave reviews in the summer of 2013 and has been gang busters ever since.
After visiting several times over a couple month period, we got to know the sisters well, in large part because they are always present and engaging with their guests. At that time, we were in the process of planning the next Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff and the ladies wanted in. Moreover, once signed up, they asked me to let them know of any and all food fundraising events around town because they wanted to join them all.