The storied Rock Store Diner on Mulholland Highway in Cornell California.

A Motorcycle Ride to The Rock Store

If you ride Mulholland Drive in the Malibu hills of California, then you probably passed by the Rock Store.  But if you missed it, put the Rock Store on your list of intriguing destinations.  It’s a small diner, serving up diner fare a few days each week.  Guests pretty quickly realize the appeal is as much the community around the Rock Store as the Rock Store itself.  You see, this is a place to gather for riders, drivers, and good people of all kinds.  The community is what makes the Rock Store a thing.

Map of greater Malibu area in California.
Map data ©2021 Google – The Rock Store in Cornell California is a fun ride away on the Mulholland Highway.

Mulholland Highway Sets The Scene.

Riding east to The Rock Store from the Pacific Coast Highway is a favorite route.  Riders make their way from the east too; out of Topanga Canyon on Old Topanga Canyon Road up through the Santa Monica Mountains and on to Mulholland Highway.  For those starting on the Pacific Coast, the iconic Neptune’s Net seafood restaurant provides a popular gathering place.  From there Mulholland Highway lies about 2 miles south just past Carrillo State Beach. 

Neptunbe's Net seafood restaurant
Neptune’s Net seafood restaurant is a favorite gathering spot on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Turn on to Mulholland and up ahead lies the infamous Snake.  One of the most famous stretches of sinuous road in the country.  Riders and drivers come from all over to experience this short 2.4 miles of well-maintained asphalt.  Watch for the Snake Carspot.  Pull over and view the road ahead from this vantage point overlooking a steady stream of fast moving bikes and exotic cars.  It’s all here.  Motorcycles, riders at every skill level, all having a good time.  Of course the California Highway Patrol are here too and that’s actually a good thing.  

When you’re ready, point your bike toward the canyon.  The Snake is right in front of you and past that waits The Rock Store.  You are about to become one of the many who have a story to tell.  

A section of the Mulholland Highway known as The Snake
The infamous hairpin turn on a section of Mulholland Highway known as The Snake as seen from just below the Carspot turnout.
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Seriously – Respect The Snake.

The Snake is a strange combination of road and arena.  Spectators are everywhere and every rider is in some way here to see as much as to be seen.  That road and arena atmosphere draw riders into a bargain with fate.  It seems everyone pushes their equipment and their skill to the limit.  Even riders on high-barred cruisers scrape pegs through turns.  With so many riders on the edge of their comfort zone and maybe just outside it, it’s useful to remind yourself where you really are.  This stretch of road has an incredibly high number of accidents.  You might think it’s a racetrack.   But like all twisty canyon roads this one has no corner workers and no safe run-offs.  Its every rider for him or herself.  Know your limits and ride within them.  After all, your story really ends at The Rock Store.   

motorcycle crash on Mulholland Highway.
Crashes are all too frequent on The Snake.

Who doesn’t want their picture coming through the apex of the most famous hairpin on The Snake?  You’re in luck.  Photographers abound at various vantage points.  Their mere presence adds to the arena-like atmosphere.  One photographer in particular made a small business of it.  

The guys at Rock Store Photos take professional quality action shots on weekends and post high-quality photos to their website for purchase.  Unless you have a friend with an aptitude for photography who is willing to spend time on the side of the road, Rock Store Photos makes capturing the moment easier than saying cheese. 

The American Diner Experience. 

Let’s be blunt – the place is a diner.  Everything shouts “diner”.  From the abandoned gas pumps in the parking lot, to the counter and booths inside, to the food, to the staff.  And yes especially the bathrooms.  Set your expectations accordingly and you won’t be disappointed.  

View inside The Rock Store
The American diner scene is alive and well in The Rock Store.

Guests may chose to sit inside or on the outside patio.  Most times the patio is preferred for people watching.  The Rock Store staff are friendly, but busy and service is often slow.  Food arrives on paper plates and drinks are served in a plastic cup just like those college parties you remember.  Even so, its decent diner fare.  The
lunchtime BBQ, especially the tri-tip sandwich, are favorites.  In short, the food is nothing to talk about.  But that doesn’t stop hundreds from flocking to this place every weekend.  There’s a reason for that.

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The Rock Store Community Makes the Scene.

Ed and Veronica (Vern) Savko opened The Rock Store in 1961 in what was a grocery store and before that a stagecoach stop.  Over the years, together with their son Rich, the Savko family made the place a Southern California icon among riding and driving enthusiast alike.  Hard to believe, but Ronald Reagan was known to tie-up his horse and step in for coffee until he became governor of California.  About that same time Steve McQueen was among the first Hollywood celebrities to discover The Rock Store.  Today a long list of recognizable names continues to drop in.  Occasionally Jay Leno and other celebs mill around the parking lot sharing stories about a favorite car or bike.  You never know.   

If the stone-faced building could talk, the tales of survival would amaze.  In the late 70’s wildfires threatened destruction, and more recently the building miraculously survived the devastating Woolsey fire of 2018 .  The Savko’s count on their neighbors and even patrons to help preserve this historic diner tucked in the hills above Malibu.

Fire fighters in California
Over 88% of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area sustained significant damage from the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

The Rock Store opens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday inviting riders from all over the world to take a break and become part of an impromptu motorcycle enthusiasts party.   

Outside patio seating offers shade from the sun and the best view of bikes gathering in the parking lot below.  It can get crowded in the mid-afternoon when riders take a break after working the canyon roads for hours.  Don’t let crowds deterred you, they make the place come alive. 

Patio seating is best when the weather allows.  Temperatures can reach into the 90s during the summer months, but typically hover in the upper 70’s.  Most days are dry, with the best chance of rain in the winter months between December and February.  On the patio its easy to chat with fellow guests and watch the action in the parking lot below.  Riders of all kinds are coming and going.  From race-suited sport bikers to leather-clad Harley lovers.  The variety is as wide as the hills that stretch into the distance.  This is the place for anyone who likes to talk bikes.  The Rock Store is truly a gathering place unlike anything you will find anywhere.  The community makes the scene.  

Wrap a Ride Around The Rock Store. 

Motorcycling means something a little different to each rider.  For some, riding clears the mind.  Others ride to sharpen skills.  And still others enjoy the sheer exhilaration.  Yet we all love to be with riders who appreciate the very same thing we do.     

No matter why you ride or what you ride, you’ll find The Rock Store a welcoming place with just the right vibe to center a day ride or add a stop on a tour through Southern California.  

We think you’ll like The Rock Store.

Front view of The Rock Store
Nothing better than an easy summer afternoon under the oak trees at The Rock Store.

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