The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Corey Costelloe
Assistant to the City Manager 

Highlighting the success within the economic landscape of our community

Economic Development Update


September 14, 2019

Corey Costelloe

From Sea to Shining Sea; new Downtown Tehachapi Trucking Company moves goods across the United States

If there were a road map to starting a small business in your home and transitioning into a major player in an industry, then K.M. Payton Trucking certainly fits that mold.

The newest business residents of Downtown Tehachapi, K.M. Payton recently opened their new and first office at 118 S. Robinson Street. The business, founded by Mike and Kendra Payton, handles shipping of frozen seafood and refrigerated produce across the nation, with a fleet of seven trucks and routes that span from the east to the west coast. A logistical challenge now operated out of their Downtown Tehachapi location.

"We run from California to Chicago, Indianapolis, New York, Florida, those are really our hot spots," Payton said. "We'll run the entire I-5 corridor and we're still looking for customers."

Payton and his wife relocated from Palmdale several years ago and he quickly realized the best way to make a living in the trucking industry was to start his own business. They did so in October of 2017 out of a home office in Golden Hills, also purchasing a truck and a trailer and hitting the road.

"We quickly figured out there's a lot going on in the industry and that's when we started growing," Payton said. "We've gone from a $200,000 to $2 million dollar business in less than 24 months."

The decision to locate a business of this nature in Tehachapi stemmed from the Payton's love for the area.

"We located here because we live here," he said. "Some wonder why we're not in Palmdale, closer to L.A., how come I'm not in L.A., I'm not in Bakersfield or Fresno? The answer is convenience. We just started with it and ran with it and we'll see where it goes."

Payton pointed out his company's logo is simple, but includes "Tehachapi, CA" at the bottom. This logo is on all trucks operated by K.M. Payton, giving the City recognition all throughout the United States.

"No joke, I can be anywhere in the country and somebody has a sister, or a brother (in Tehachapi)," he said. "I was looking at the Statue of Liberty, delivering to Sigma Foods in New Jersey and some guy said 'oh you're from Tehachapi? I have a brother that lives there.' It took me about six months to realize that there's something about being from Tehachapi that is kind of cool and recognizable nationwide."

The next expansion for K.M. Payton Trucking will be into the freight brokering business, not just moving freight for their customers, but connecting other trucks with available freight from customers throughout the United States.

K.M. Payton works closely with several contract drivers, many of which own their own equipment but don't have the financial means to secure freight. They also employ two local people in their new Downtown Tehachapi office as well as Payton himself, when he's not on the road delivering freight in his own truck.

K.M. Payton Trucking is seeking contract truck drivers as well as additional customers in need of their refrigerated delivery services. Mike Payton can be reached at

Kelcy's Café back with full time operating hours

Kelcy's Café, once the focus of Downtown Tehachapi for decades has been reopened as a full-time restaurant for the first time in over two years.

New owners Bill and Virginia Sheridan purchased the business a few years ago, which is adjacent to their Sheridan's Consignment shop on Tehachapi Boulevard. With the age of the building, health codes and required upgrades it took the Sheridan's a little while longer than expected to get the eatery reopened, but after the wait the doors officially opened on Mountain Festival weekend to large crowds of festival goers and locals wanting that slice of Kelcy's pie or to reminisce about Tehachapi over some biscuits and gravy.

After a few special-event openings over the last year, Kelcy's has now established normal business hours, open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., focusing on breakfast and lunch for the time being. The current menu is small with limited items but café management plans on slowly expanding items as the new staff, cooks and servers get more acquainted with their surroundings.

Surroundings have always been a big part of Kelcy's, half café and half Tehachapi museum, the restaurant once featured several hundred historical photos of Tehachapi. While many were removed by previous ownership, those photos were scanned and will eventually be reproduced to once again hang on the walls for locals and visitors alike to learn more about the community's history.

The nostalgia of Tehachapi remains in the main dining area with some photos and reminders of the restaurant that has witnessed massive change to Downtown Tehachapi with its large windows overlooking Tehachapi Boulevard. These days the sidewalks are full of shoppers, tourists, railroad enthusiasts, festival goers and locals enjoying the surroundings, and now Kelcy's is a part of that again.

Kelcy's is back with a healthy downtown surrounding it and plenty of customers excited to come back in and say hello to their old friend.

Truck Climbing Lane support sought

The City of Tehachapi is seeking letters of support from residents, business owners and community members to send to Governor Newsom's office and Caltrans in Sacramento to encourage prioritizing a project to bring truck climbing lanes to eastbound Highway 58. These lanes are crucial for the economies of Tehachapi and surrounding communities as well as the health and safety of residents. For more information visit

For more Economic Development News visit


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