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Year-long road closure continues to impact Kernville business Airpark Cafe

Airpark Cafe is located off of Sierra Way, which closed on April 10, 2023.
Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 12, 2024

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — Airpark Cafe is located off of Sierra Way, which closed on April 10, 2023, and an employee reports that business has been down by 50%.

  • Video shows footage of Airpark Cafe and the damage on Sierra Way that cause the road to shut down.
  • Sierra Way was shut down on April 10 2023 and as a result, Kernville business Airpark Cafe has seen a significant reduction in business.


The impacts of the massive water year we saw last year are still present one year later, especially at businesses like the Airpark Cafe.

“We’re looking at, in the last year, probably at least a fifty percent loss of business, if not more,” said Richard Lach, former General manager of the Kern Valley Airpark and a current mechanic there.

One of the airpark’s most unique features doesn’t have anything to do with planes – it’s that it has the Airpark Cafe, formerly known as the Airport Cafe.

The cafe serves pilots but also just those curious who are driving by on Sierra Way, coming from the 178 in Weldon to Kernville.

“Kernville is a destination for our hamburgers and to fly in, because it’s a very unique airport with the mountains all around it.”

However, that route has been closed for roughly a year now due to extensive damage on Sierra way caused by heavy flow on the South Fork last spring.

“Of course that traffic has now disappeared.”

As a result, the cafe has had to reduce their hours, now they’re only open five days a week instead of seven.

Lach says the atmosphere isn’t one you’d find at a regular cafe.

“We have a patio that’s open to animals we have to come through with their animals on their leashes and so forth.”

The cafe itself reflects both the Kern River Valley community and aviation enthusiasts,

“Many of these patches come from the fire crews that have been through here.”

The decorations tell stories.

“He had an engine failure right after take-off, landed in a farmers field and tore out about a hundred feet of barbed wire fence, that’s why the barbed wire is on it,” Lach said laughing, and motioning to a propeller wrapped with barbed wire, “That’s the way it came of the airplane.’

The restaurant is small, it has a serve yourself coffee stations and patrons have a full-view of the kitchen in back.

Lach says, like many businesses in the valley business is also heavily reliant on tourism

“Most folks don’t even know the Kern Valley exists in Bakersfield in the rest of Kern County. We need to get them up here, this is a play yard for everything you could think of.”

But the past year Lach says it’s been the regulars that have kept the cafe afloat.

“It's the local trade that keeps us alive, we really appreciate them and depend on them.”

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