10/26/2016Desert Inn and Restaurant
From Vero Beach to Tampa on State Road 60 or Miami to Ocala via the Florida Turnpike, I have traveled through Yeehaw Junction, Florida, dozens of times throughout the years. An almost desolate exit with a couple of gas stations and some fruit stands, this place could surely use a Starbucks. As a child, I seem to remember a Stuckey's here but the memories of so many years ago seem to be fading.I've read the other reviews and agree with most of them in relation to food, service, and local flair. As for the actual premises, most of the reviews complained that the Desert Inn needed an "update" of decor. I guess these reviewers missed the "historic location" sign outside that prohibit said architectural changes.Bathrooms were aged (of course) but clean and working. Restaurant was decorated with dollar bills throughout. Definitely an invitation for a late night burglary, but I'm almost sure there is a surveillance camera pointed somewhere in their direction. Parking lot was "desert like" as depicted by my photos.My biggest pet peeve with the Desert Inn Restaurant was being charged for water. Ordering water here cost $1.50 for a Sam's Club Member's Mark bottled water. Not that I would not pay for bottled water - if I had requested it - I was taken by surprise that it was served without request or notice. When I first arrived, I was asked what I wanted to drink. I said "water" while asking my server where the bathroom was. When I came back to my stool, the bottled water was on the counter. I asked how much the water was and was told $1.50. I joked about the profit margin and stated "had I known about the bottled water," I would have ordered the bottled beer which was only $2.00 more.The female server had no response and I did not complain further. I did immediately leave a Yelp tip warning about the price of water. I could not help noticing the handwritten sign outside asking customers to leave a Yelp review.I ordered the hot dog and fries special. Pretty standard bar fare type food - not much to write home about. Hog dog was all beef and the fries were a big soggy. I ate about half and took the rest to go. And yes, I didn't forget to take my bottled water with me. After all, it cost me a buck fifty. Desert Inn was busy and - as I stated earlier - I sat at the bar.I debated leaving 3 stars rather than 4 because of the "bottled water" issue and lack of prior notification that I would be served anything but tap water. I ended up leaving the 4 stars as the owners and staff of Desert Inn seem to be making an attempt of turning a dying exit along the Florida Turnpike and State Road 60 into something once again. I did not gig the Desert Inn based on the oft complained about decor or bathrooms as the building is twice my age and is a registered historic place. The decor, etc., cannot be changed.If I were asked for advice, I would simply advise customers of the charge for water or give them an option for tap water, if available, in the middle of no where. At $1.50 a bottle, this Sam's Club water is certainly a top profit for the Desert Inn./s/ William E. Lewis Jr., Fort Lauderdale, Florida.