Thunder Road Steakhouse & Cantina

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Project Objectives

Inspired by the 1958 movie, "Thunder Road" this interior restaurant design was created to offer a completely unique steakhouse concept to the Route 66 Casino. Combining Southwest décor with high-impact automotive imagery, the new interior restaurant theme was to provide a truly distinctive dining and entertainment destination within the entertainment property.

Casino Restaurant Design - Thunder Road dining area design.

Design & Planning

Thunder Road is one of several theme-based operations, renovated by I-5, for Route 66 Casino. The tribe’s goal for this particular space was to create a distinct and popular destination within the property.

Multi-dimensional flames and a Southwestern style signage welcome customers to an entertaining dining experience. Rustic columns which flank the entrance are topped with illuminated fixtures. A life-size, bygone-era police car sits atop a platform high above the 180 degree bar. A vintage moonshiner’s car that has “crashed” halfway through the wall in the dining area is anchored safely above patrons. Faux windows with raised mullions and vivid, large-format wall mural scenes were created for each area within the space. A rustic wood-style trellis is suspended from large wooden beams and provides support for several custom chandeliers in the center of the main dining area. Above the bar, suspended illuminated beams extend into the dining area, adding an element of excitement.

Build & Install

Also serving as the general contractor, I-5 completely transformed the entire venue in just a few short months, allowing the casino to remain open for business the entire time.

Thunder Road contains a great combination of Southwest décor and old Route 66 imagery to create a nostalgic and entertaining guest experience.  The police car above the bar is situated on a mechanical lift which, when raised, reveals a stage for performing bands as the car disappears into the ceiling. Looking as if it has just crashed through the wall above the dining area, the moonshiner’s car is also a realistic reminder of the glory days of Route 66.

Beginning with the energetic entrance, the design moves guests through the remarkable space as detail after detail creates a truly unique and immersive experience. With design and manufacture both completed in-house, a quick turn-around was achieved, and the integrity of the complete design intent was maintained throughout the entire project. Décor elements were shipped on-site to I-5’s installation coordinator following pre-fabrication, and as each element was added, the space was magically changed to reveal the overall design theme.

Restaurant Design - Thunder Road, custom design elements being manufactured.
Casino Restaurant Design - Thunder Road dining area and bar.

Finished Project

All phases of the Thunder Road Steakhouse and Cantina renovation were handled in-house, and casino doors never closed while installation was completed in an efficient and timely manner.

Thunder Road Steakhouse and Cantina is now its own destination within Route 66 Casino and has attracted many guests. All of the design elements throughout the steakhouse communicate the “Thunder Road” and Route 66 theme, initiating a lively and interactive atmosphere, which is unlike any other dining experience in the area.

The other areas in Route 66 Casino designed and renovated by I-5 Design are Envy Nightlife and 360 Bar.