For those of you who’ve only even driven past Baker, 90 miles an hour with EDM blasting from the stereo of your convertible on your way to Vegas, you might not realize that you’re missing one of the most culturally important landmarks in all of California. No, it’s not the (currently broken) big-ass thermometer, and it’s not the Mad Greek — it’s Alien Fresh Jerky, the spacey snack shop right in the heart of town that’s become something of a raison d’être for the otherwise ailing desert town.
With some 750,000 annual visitors to the storefront, the jerky there has become so popular that owner Luis Ramallo is banking on a little extended marketing to bring the alien branding to a full-sized hotel, restaurant, and oddball adult playground, right in the heart of Baker. Think of it as the new Hicksville Trailer Palace from Joshua Tree, but actually within a reasonable distance to other cool stuff (like Vegas).
So a jerky magnate wants to rebrand Baker as more than a stop-off town where not even the Starbucks could hold on? What’s that going to look like? Glad you asked! As Curbed reports, the County of San Bernardino has already approved plans for a nearly 26,000 square foot hotel that sits three stories high and, in a move of total badassery, will be home to an alien-head-shaped pool.
Foodwise, there’s going to be a museum — of what, who knows, probably UFO stuff, but there’ll be snacks! — and a full-service alien-themed restaurant, plus plans for a nightclub on par with the best other late night party spots in Baker.
Honestly, the idea is weird and goofy and will feature people in alien costumes showing you to your room and actual knobs and stuff you can interact with in the hallways and all sorts of other oddball quirks, but what else is Baker up to these days? Why the heck not?
Investors agree, and after drawing up plans it seems that the only thing stopping the UFO Hotel from coming to life is the $30 million bill to make it all happen. Add in this Kickstarter campaign, which is full of really wonderfully bizarre art showing off the proposed site, and it sure seems like the thing could actually get made. That’s good news for a struggling town of 650 people, and even better news for anyone flying by on the freeway. Maybe someday soon you’ll actually turn off and be able to sit down for an alien-themed dinner and a dip in the head of a googly-eyed space monster.