Restaurants and Bars

The postcards on this page advertise San Francisco restaurants and bars.

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Left: Unknown publisher, postmarked 9/16/1905. This is my only pre-quake card advertising a restaurant, though several other pre-quake postcards show restaurants (e.g., Goeggel & Weidner 14 and Pacific Novelty 2805). The earliest Louvre cards I have seen are 1903 private maiing cards. Right: Unknown publisher, postmarked SF 9/14/1908, notes the Louvre's former pre-quake location as well as its post-quake location.

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These cards (Tivoli, Tivoli) say the Tivoli Cafe dates from 1879. Pre-quake 1905 Crocker-Langley lists it at 16-18 Eddy, next door to the Tivoli Opera House (see 1895 Glover). It was at 50 Eddy after the quake, as on these cards. The cards are 5"x3", slightly smaller than standard 5.5"x3.5" cards.

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San Francisco had a large German population and German restaurants were very popular. Left: Heidelberg Inn at Ellis/Market/Stockton (35/37 Ellis) featured music nightly; sadly, the year on the 9/05/19yy postmark is illegible. The message on the front: "Had dinner here with my honey Wed. Eve. Orpheum after it." Next: Heidelberg Inn with caption in German dialect, 1915 Jewel City (P.P.I.E.) notation on back. Next: Heidelberg Inn, postmarked 12/03/1911, presents a scene from Meyer-Förster's extremely popular play Old Heidelberg with a quote from the play in German. Restaurants: Heidelberg Inn shows several similar cards with the same figures in slightly different poses with different quotes. Right: Unknown publisher shows Alt Nurnberg's German Village at P.P.I.E.

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A unnumbered set of six postcards (Hof-Bräu, Hof-Bräu, Hof-Bräu, and Hof-Bräu above, plus Hof-Bräu and Hof-Bräu not shown) for the Hof-Bräu Cafe at 4th/Market was issued for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Hof-Bräu at left is postmarked 10/22/1915, the others are unused. Front captions are in German; the third urges the sausage and pork lover to remember the pigs lovingly. 1914 Crocker-Langley lists H.L. Hirsch as manager of the Hof-Bräu. The first Heidelberg Inn card above also lists Hirsch as manager, and Hof-Bräu card at right above is identical to Heidelberg Inn (not shown) except for the restaurant name/location.

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Left: Roesch advertises the Portola-Louvre Restaurant at Powell/Market, with the official 1915 P.P.I.E. seal on the back. Another example of this card is postmarked 2/09/1912. Manager Herbert Meyerfeld was surely related to proprietor J. Meyerfeld listed on the Louvre cards at the top of this page. 1910 Crocker-Langley lists the Portola Cafe at 18 Powell and the Old Louvre at the NE corner of Ellis/Powell; presumably they subsequently merged to form "America's Finest and Largest Restaurant... Seating Capacity 1500". Next: Cliff House advertises Cliff House #4 with a photo I find singularly uninviting; another example is postmarked 6/04/1914. Next: Britton & Rey shows the Bismarck Cafe. The Bismarck was in the Pacific Building at 4th/Market, like the Hof-Bräu Cafe above. Right: The States Restaurant shown in Miner is in the same Pacific Building venue as the Bismarck Cafe, renamed in 1918 because of WW1 anti-German sentiment; the 1919 Crocker-Langley lists H.L. Hirsch as manager, as with Heidelberg Inn and Hof-Bräu above.

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Left: The William Taylor Hotel, built on the northwest corner of McAllister/Leavenworth in 1929, was the tallest hotel in San Francisco for many years. In the 1930s it became the Hotel Empire (right: Unknown publisher) and its Sky Room (center: Unknown publisher) opened in 1938, the city's first view lounge. This card must date from just after the Sky Room opened, as another example is postmarked 4/24/1939. Today (in 2021) the building, now called McAllister Tower, houses UC Hastings law students, with the Sky Room preserved as a student lounge.

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San Francisco once had many other elegant skyscraper bars with fabulous views, now most are gone (Carnelian Room at BofA, Cityscape at O'Farrell Hilton, Crown Room at Fairmont, Equinox Room at Hyatt Regency, Oz at St. Francis). Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel (Mark Hopkins, Mark Hopkins, Smith News SF 26A) would stamp and mail a "private mailing card" for you if you could afford a drink there. It's still around in 2021, as are the Starlight Roof at the Drake (right: Smith News) and The View at the Jukebox Marriott.

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Chinatown. Left and center: Piltz 73 and Curteich 110631 (postmarked Oakland 7/11/1929) show the Grand View Hotel and Grand View Tea Garden on the southwest corner of Pine and Grant. Right: Four Seas shows the Four Seas Restaurant (731 Grant). Chinatown: Hang Far Low shows the earlier Hang Far Low at the same location. Chinatown: Shanghai Low shows another Chinatown restaurant.

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Sheraton-Palace: Garden Court (Palace Hotel), Christmas 1959. Fairmont: the amazing Tonga Room (Fairmont Hotel), postmarked SF 10/06/1951 (read the message!). Fairmont, the Tonga Room, postmarked SF 7/07/1966. Anthony Bourdain called the Tonga Room "the greatest place in the history of the world".

Steve's SF postcard pages: