By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
The next time you have a yearning for a sandwich or grinder that can’t be beat, do yourself a favor and head on over to Rocky’s Roadhouse Gourmet Deli & Restaurant in Running Springs.
In business since 2004, when Dennis O’Keefe opened his first deli restaurant on Highway 18 at Kuffel Canyon Road in Skyforest, the business experienced tremendous growth and popularity with locals, as well as hungry skiers traveling from as far away as San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles, who stopped for a warm meal on their way to Snow Valley or Big Bear.
Over the years, more and more customers were coming from Running Springs and Green Valley Lake so, in 2012, O’Keefe decided to relocate to Running Springs to take advantage of all the skiers and snow players arriving via Highway 330. The current owner, Dennis’ son, Kenneth O’Keefe, told The Alpine Mountaineer, “We relocated in 2012 because we had an opportunity to grow and expand.” Asked how the restaurant got its name, Ken said, “Rocky was a Rottweiler; however, he passed away right before we opened.”
While visiting Rocky’s recently, which I almost always do on my way to the Heap’s Peak Transfer Station (the county dump), I decided to order my favorite Rocky’s meal – their full-size barbecued beef grinder served on a fresh baked hoagie roll loaded with a generous portion of steaming hot slices of Boar Head beef slathered with a homemade, sweet barbecue sauce, accompanied by potato chips or potato salad and a 12-ounce Coke. Needless to say, I started out with the chips while the grinder cooled off a bit. It was “delizoso,” as always. I only say that because Rocky’s offers a full slate of genuine Italian grinders, sandwiches and pasta. Side salads include garden salad, coleslaw, potato salad, tuna salad, macaroni salad and antipasto.
Rocky’s has a choice of dining areas: on the main floor, where the meals are prepared; on the patio in front of the main entrance; downstairs, where there is a bar; or on a downstairs outdoor patio.
Lake Arrowhead resident Jerry Maloney – whose favorite sandwiches include tuna, meatballs and pastrami – was dining with family and friends in the downstairs bar area. “We’ve been coming here for years,” he said, “and the food is great. We eat out almost every day and this tops them all.”
Abby, who is from West Covina and was visiting her vacation cabin in Running Springs, stopped by for a take-out meal. “I just love their turkey and pastrami sandwiches. That’s why I come here every single time.
Asked what a typical day working and managing Rocky’s is like, O’Keefe said, “Sunday through Thursday, we arrive about 9 a.m. and do prep until 10:30 and we wrap it up around 4 p.m., then we clean up and go home. On Friday and Saturday, we finish up sandwiches at 4 p.m. and start on spaghetti dinners that we serve from 4:30 to until 6:30.” When asked how many employees he has, he said, “We are run entirely from our family, so it can be one to three people working here.”
Noting that Rocky’s most popular and best-selling sandwiches are the Italian, meatball and Reuben, O’Keefe said his personal favorites include the sausage and peppers and the beef bomb. “The Big Dog (hot dog) is also very good. I like making food that people enjoy the most and I like it when people come in for the first time or hundredth time and say how much they liked it and they’ll be back. I also like seeing new faces and those we’ve seen since we started this journey.”
O’Keefe attributes his success to the consistency in the quality of ingredients used and the community that supports his business. “We have the very best customers.”
Rocky’s Roadhouse, located at 32159 Hilltop Boulevard in Running Springs, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. To order food to go, call (909) 939-0501
Rocky’s Roadhouse is located at 32150 Hilltop Blvd. at Hunsaker Way in Running Springs. (Photos by Douglas W. Motley)
Rocky’s barbecue beef sandwich is served hot and saucy.
Rocky’s Roadhouse Owner Kenneth O’Keefe is flanked by stepson employees Jerimiah (L) and Jimmy (R).
Lake Arrowhead resident Jerry Maloney (center) is a regular at Rocky’s Roadhouse.