Thursday, November 14, 2019

An Homage in Neon

While the Madonna Inn may be Alex Madonna's most iconic legacy, it would not exist without his first passion: construction.

Long before those 110 individually-themed guest rooms and the signature Pink Champagne cake (a favorite of SLOcals and Kacey Musgraves, alike) Alex began his Madonna Construction Company with a pick, a shovel, and a model-T Ford. The year was 1938. Alex was fresh out of high school with little more than a few hundred dollars and a dream.

Alex's high school graduation photo
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 17). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

By early 1940 Alex had completed a few local jobs and was gaining traction as an entrepreneur. Soon, he was conducting his daily business from a rented office space in the Farmer's Hardware store that his sister, LaVerne, managed. The company's credibility grew as Alex continued to win bids for large stretches of California highways.

Alex's first business card listed the location of his office inside Farmer's Hardware
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 24). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

After serving with the Army Corps of Engineers from 1941-1945, building roads and landing strips in the South Pacific, Alex returned to the Central Coast to continue constructing regional highways, bridges, buildings... and even the original San Luis Obispo Regional Airport!

Alex spends 4 years overseas with the Army Corps of Engineers
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 26-27). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

The construction company continued to thrive for 66 years until Alex's passing in April 2004. At that time, Phyllis and the Madonna Family decided it was best to dedicate the team's focus towards the flourishing of the Inn - Phyllis's love and livelihood.

1949 - The Madonna Construction Company headquarters is complete

Though the days of construction are over, we continue to celebrate the Madonna Inn's humble beginnings with the refurbishing of Madonna Construction Company's original neon sign - a reverence to the man and the venture that started it all. It's estimated that the sign was erected sometime during the mid-1950's when Alex's dedicated office building was complete. 

This sign was left in a corner of the yard for years until Clint Pearce, President of Madonna Enterprises, decided it was time to see it shine once again. "I thought it would be fun," Pearce said,"... a way to honor the company's roots - to honor the family business."

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Little Time Capsules

Holiday Decor in the Gold Rush Steak House and Copper Cafe

In the age of smart phones - which house literally thousands of images, while making the photographic venture possible with little more than thumbs - it's easy to underestimate the value of a real, tangible, printed picture... one that was produced with care and kept for generations.
Before the days of portrait mode, a quality photo required a considerable amount of time (and likely some strong neck muscles if you packed your camera around hands-free)!
What's more: absent cloud storage, these precious prints could be easily lost or forgotten if not catalogued, stored, and passed down over the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Madonna entertain guests in the Gold Rush Steak House during the Holiday Season.

Happily for me, I am often the recipient of some such relics - photo memories from guests who enjoyed the Inn with their parents, children, or lovers - and have now decided to share them with our family and staff.

Construction continues on Building Three

In this set, graciously sent by a guest named Joanie, I was taken not only by the fabulous hair-dos (hair styling is another place that may have demanded more of our time in earlier years), but also by the essential spirit of the Madonna Inn that has been so lovingly preserved since the 1950s' and 60s'.

Room #195 - Tack Room
 Apart from some changes in carpeting, cars, and clothing it seems like these photos could have been taken just last year - a feat that I can only credit to the family and team that has worked to keep the original vision for the Inn intact. Inside these little time capsules, it feels as if nothing has changed, even though time has, indeed, managed to pass.

Take care of your photographs and memories, friends. They are treasures.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The PINKEST day of the year!

It may come as no surprise that the best (...or even the only place) to celebrate National Pink Day - June 23rd - is at Madonna Inn of San Luis Obispo!

To celebrate this fun event, we will be hosting Miss Kitten Kay Sera: the Infamous "Pink Lady of Hollywood!" Kitten will be on-site from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. in the Alex Madonna Gold Rush Steak House to take pink-tastic photos with our guests and visitors.

During this photo op, Madonna Inn will also be offering FREE samples of our famous pink chocolate, handing out commemorative pink stretchy bracelets, and offering our Signature Pink Cloud Cocktail in a souvenir Pink Goblet (to keep) for $23.00!

This event will be fun for everyone, so make sure to bring your family and friends in all of your rosiest hues!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Vegan and Vegetarian Offerings

You asked and we listened...

It is with great excitement that we announce three new Vegan offerings available in our Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge and Copper Cafe! Chef Rob has been hard at work creating satisfying, delicious, animal product-free options - and the results are simply delicious.

For a spicy kick, try the Buffalo Chickpea Sandwich with crunchy purple cabbage and luscious lettuce.

Or, enjoy a warm and toasty treat with our Mediterranean Grilled Veggie Sandwich - a stacking of grilled portobello mushroom, bell peppers, and dairy-free pesto or Romesco sauce.

And last, but certainly not least (and perhaps my favorite of all) our Farmer's Market Salad with quinoa, arugula, sliced red onion, mandarin oranges, artichoke hearts, toasted almonds, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Our Portobello and tomato entree (available in the Steak House), Veggie Plate, and Romesco Avocado Toast can also be made vegan by asking your server to hold the cheese crumbles. We hope that these new additions will be warmly welcomed by all our Madonna Inn fans and family!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What's your sign?

Last weekend's stunning lunar eclipse inspired me to create a guide to finding the perfect Madonna Inn room based on your zodiac sign.  Scroll through to find your celestial match!

Aries: Yahoo
 Bold, Courageous, Passionate

Taurus: Buffalo Room
 Steadfast, Sensible, Good-natured

Gemini: Barrel of Fun
Versatile, Clever, Imaginative

Cancer: Crystal Room
Nurturing, Sensitive, Tenacious

Warm, Expressive, Dramatic

Virgo: Bridal Falls 
Innocent, Witty, Dependable

Libra: Romance
Charming, Graceful, Loving 

Scorpio: Rock Bottom
Mysterious, Intense, Magnetic

Sagittarius: Pony Room
Curious, Adventuresome, Optimistic

Capricorn: Cabin Still
Determined, Caring, Reliable

Aquarius: Vouz
Friendly, Gracious, Creative

Pisces: Starlite
Dreamy, Compassionate, Intuitive  

View our full list of individually-themed guest rooms here!
And happy star-gazing, Madonna Inn friends. :)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Common Madonna Inn Questions - Answered!

While there are many questions about the wild and wonderful world of Madonna Inn, these are just a few of the most common ones we hear.
Do you agree with these answers? Let us know in the comments below! 


1. Why is everything pink?

Mr. and Mrs. Madonna co-created the Madonna Inn with fantasy in mind; they wanted guests to feel both comfortable and wowed from the moment they walked through the door. So, pink was chosen as a staple of the property because the two felt it was a fun and uplifting color. Mr. Madonna also thought that Mrs. Madonna looked her most beautiful in shades of pink!

2. Why is every room different?
A vintage version of "Whispering Hills:" Room 187
Mr. Madonna was known by many for his quick wit and sense of humor. When asked why no two rooms looked alike, he artfully replied that if every room was different, he could never make the same mistake twice.

3. Are Mr. and Mrs. Madonna still alive?

Mr. Madonna passed in 2004. Mrs. Madonna, however, is still very much alive and well! She recently turned 90 and loves singing and playing the accordion, spending time with her dog, Flower, and having breakfast or lunch at the Inn daily. Mrs. Madonna is retired now, but is still influential in the seasonal decoration of the restaurants.

4. Is Madonna (the pop star) affiliated with Madonna Inn? 
Although it's easy to see how one would think Madonna Louise Ciccone - The Queen of Pop - has some connection to the pink wonderland that is Madonna Inn, the two are unrelated and have (to our knowledge) never crossed paths.

5.Is the Madonna Inn haunted? 

Probably not. While some guests have reported experiencing a "playful" spirit visiting them while at the Inn, the Madonna family and other long-time employees have never encountered any ghosts, spirits, or other entities in their many years of living and working at the Inn since it's inception.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Recipe for Gratitude

One of the quickest ways I've found to get into the holiday spirit is to seek warmth: a cozy hug; hot apple cider; deep, rich red hues; and earthy, warming spices. With just one bite of a hot and hearty holiday-inspired meal I begin to feel myself transported to Grandma's house - surrounded by laughter, baked goods, and the people I love. In my eyes, food is not just fuel but also a vehicle to feeling comforted, connected, and grounded.

When I taste-tested our newest appetizer (after snapping some photos, of course) I was surprised to feel that same warmth and comfort from avocado toast - a dish that I wouldn't typically associate with holiday nostalgia. Somewhere within the hearty bread, creamy avocado, spicy sauce, and sweet corn kernels I felt cozy and at home. The recipe below has been sourced from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. In the Madonna Inn kitchen, we substitute tomato paste for the fresh Romas, so feel free to get a little creative with your ingredients. 

As we come into this holiday season on the heels of one of the worst natural disasters our state has ever endured, "home" is something I cherish now more than ever. For the thousands of people that have lost the people, possessions, and place that gave them their sense of home, my heart breaks. And for the countless number of volunteers who have left the comforts of their daily routines to offer aid and service, I am deeply moved and inspired. Seeing the strength of so many in the midst of this tragedy reminds me why I am proud to be a Californian.
If you're interested in contributing to the wildfire relief efforts please visit the Red Cross website and select "California Wildfires" from the drop-down menu.

Much like the people that make up our beautiful state, this Romesco sauce is hearty, nurturing, and down-to-earth. And while it would be delectable on just about anything, we think it makes the perfect base for sliced avocados, crumbled Feta cheese, roasted corn, and cilantro. Prepare this sauce in bulk, store, and enjoy on days when you need a little spice, a little warmth, or just a little bit more gratitude.

 Here's to a very gracious holiday - wherever you may be spending it. 

Romesco Sauce

A lightly spicy, tomato-based sauce from the Madonna Inn kitchen, adapted from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's book, Cooking with Too Hot Tamales: Recipes & Tips from TV Food's Spiciest Cooking Duo 


  • ¾ cup toasted almonds
  • 2 large thick slices of country bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
  •  ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound roma tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  •  ½ teaspoon pepper
  •  ¾ cup olive oil

  • Combine the bread and vinegar in a bowl to soak for about 20 minutes.
  • Place almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
  • Add vinegar-soaked bread, paprika, salt, and pepper. Pulse until pureed in food processor.
  • While pulsing, slowly add in olive oil until a smooth sauce forms.
  • Serve at room temperature, chilled, or warmed up.
  • Enjoy!

Visit to view our full appetizer list.