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The Cowboy Palace 'Honky-Tonk' Has a Long and Fabled History [VIDEO]

The building once housed the Alamo Garage, Morigi’s Restaurant, Giovanni’s Rodeo Room, Wild Bill’s, Ryan’s Roundup and JR’s.

, a place with a long history, has put Chatsworth on the map as the town with the last real “honky-tonk.”

The building, at 21635 Devonshire St., has been remodeled several times to house various businesses.

In 1909, before the streets were paved, the building housed two businesses: Douglas Products and C&R Garage.

In 1920, the business there was known as the Alamo Garage, according to early Chatsworth resident Ed Ahlstrom. By 1950, photos of the main streets in town show that the building had been remodeled, and if you zoom into the photo, each window has a for-rent sign, advertising New Modern Stores. At that point, another building was added to the east; however, the section with the new overhang was the original location. (See accompanying photos.)

By 1962, Morigi’s Restaurant occupied the building, and an ad for it appeared in the Chamber of Commerce Book in 1964. Morigi’s was a popular pizza place that provided family dining and a banquet room for community events. They closed this Chatsworth location before 1970, retaining another restaurant in Northridge. 

In 1971, the building housed Giovanni’s Rodeo Room. The advertisement shown here is for the restaurant, billed as “The Place for Steak.” It served lunch and dinner and featured country music and dancing. This was the beginning of the Chatsworth country music legacy.

The restaurant changed hands and names a few times over the years. Giovanni’s Rodeo Room transformed from a restaurant to the saloon we have today. At some point it became Wild Bill’s, Ryan’s, then Ryan’s Roundup, JR’s, then JR’s Cowboy Palace, then to what we know today as the Cowboy Palace Saloon. 

Over the years, many famous patrons have signed photos that still hang on the walls around the bar: Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Willie Nelson, Paul Newman, Chuck Conners, Toby Keith and William Shatner, just to name a few.

Billy and Marjorie Holmes, the current owners since 2006, take an active part in the management of the Saloon with Marjorie judging the Monday night talent contest.

If you have not been inside the Cowboy Palace, I urge you to step in and enjoy some unique history. Collected over the years, boots hang over the bar and blue jeans decorate the walls near the pool table. Walls everywhere are covered with photos of celebrities who have either performed or enjoyed the festivities.  The Cowboy Palace is well known for the Toby Keith music video I Love This Bar, filmed on site. The website cowboypalace.com lists many of the movies and TV shows filmed at this location over the years because of its authentic western style and down-home feeling.

Drop by Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. for some free, beginning dance lessons where you can learn the electric slide, the cotton-eyed Joe, the two-step, the ten-step swing and other country dances.

Don’t be surprised to meet people from all over who come for the live music every night of the week. The Cowboy Palace Saloon has earned a place in country-western music history along with our local history here in Chatsworth.

By the way, there is also a hitching post out back where you can tie your horse, so, bring your friends and your horse.

Y’all have fun now!

cat c December 27, 2011 at 02:22 PM
this is awesome. I love the Cowboy Palace!!! I remember when it was JR's!
AG December 27, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Great History lesson here. I often ate at Morigi's Northridge, great family Italian dinner spot. I miss it. Did not know there was one in Chats. Also as someone who works in 'The Biz', this bar was used for a filming location for the docudrama film about the famous San Fernando Valley resident and 50's pop singer and his life, Richie Valens. Also everyone must know of the 'Grandpa' SF Valley honkytonk Cowboy bar in North Hollywood, 'The Palomino' off Laurel Canyon and north of Van Owen. Sadly gone now. Clint Eatswood used it several times for his 'Any which Way but Loose' film series shot around the East Valley and Sunland area.
Tee InvitationLady December 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM
We Live @ the palace, us afterwork people grab a stool and just talk and have laughs, shoot some pool & couldn't imagine hanging out anywhere else. Love my bartenders... and just to unwind after a days work. : )

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