Gold Spike Restaurant in San Francisco

image of Gold Spike restaurant in San FranciscoThe Gold Spike restaurant in San Francisco was another Italian family-style dinner-house in North Beach that was forced to close.  The place was part of a large building that wrapped around the block and encompassed many storefronts, including O’Reilly’s Irish Bar & Restaurant and L’Osteria del Forno.

Attilio and Natalina Mechetti, immigrants from Italy’s Tuscany region, opened the joint in 1920 as the Columbus Candy Store and Soda Fountain, although soda was not the only drink served. Prohibition was on, and the Mechettis knew how to treat their customers well.

The Gold Spike featured an uneven floor in the front dining area near the bar as well as business cards and dollar bills plastered all over the walls and ceiling.  Even the stuffed moose and marlin were tagged. (more…)

The Saloon in North Beach, San Francisco

Image of The Saloon, North BeachThe Saloon in North Beach, San Francisco, is located on Grant Street just a couple of doors up from Broadway.  It first opened in 1861, making it the oldest drinking establishment in the City.  The building looks much the same as it did way back during those infamous Barbary Coast days when it offered 5-cent Bavarian beer, 10-cent hot Scotch Punches, and cigars.  The wooden bar, which was installed in the 1860’s and made overseas, is still in use.  At its base, a tiled trench (from yesteryear as well) runs under the the stools, once used as a spittoon and occasionally as a urinal (perhaps during modern times also). 

The Saloon was one of those places where easy targets were drugged, hauled up to the east side of nearby Telegraph Hill and imprisoned in one of the Filbert Step cottages to be shanghaied out to sea later.  The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed most of the buildings in the area but not The Saloon. (more…)

Gino and Carlo in San Francisco

image of Gino and CarloGino and Carlo in San Francisco was established in 1942 and a family operated saloon for more than fifty years.  The North Beach bar on Green Street has always been known for their cheap drinks, easy vibe and great characters.  Frank was a sweetheart behind the bar–low key, mellow and knew your name.  Carol Doda would visit after her show sometimes.  Pool players and fantasy-sport enthusiasts also gathered here.  There might even be a guy hanging out in the shadows with a fedora on, a Godfather waiting to be received.  

I remember this time when I got into a conversation with a regular, an old-salt Italian.  Let’s call him “Alfredo”.  Alfredo started telling this tale about how he was dining at a neighborhood eatery/bar when the owner approached and suddenly collapsed. (more…)

Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco

image of S.F.-Jack Kerouac AlleyS.F.-City Lights PublishingJack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco is a one-way lane that connects Grant and Columbus.  It is named after the Beat Generation who used to frequent the nearby pub and bookstore. 

Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg set the tone for the Italian enclave in North Beach during the mind-expansion sixties.  It is here where the romance comedy, Stumptown Daze, has its beginning.

In 1988, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was the co-founder of City Lights Publishing, proposed the dedication of the alley to the Board of Supervisors.  The passageway is known for its colorful graffiti and engraved Western and Chinese poems. Below is a sampling of this genius. (more…)

Filbert Steps in San Francisco

Filbert Steps in San Francisco

In Stumptown Daze, we find wily dementia patient Walt living with his Rotuman caregiver Lani on the east side of Telegraph Hill along the Filbert Steps in San Francisco. These two characters own a tempestuous relationship amid the peace and calm of this hidden gem. One of Walt’s favorite activities is to perch himself on the back deck and watch the scenery, which includes the Embarcadero, Bay Bridge and a lovely lady who often tans herself on the roof of a residence further down the lane. (more…)

Julius Castle in San Francisco

Image of Julius Castle in San Francisco

Stumptown Daze, a 1960 romance comedy novel, starts on the east side of Telegraph Hill near Julius Castle.

In 1924, less than a year after construction on the Castle began, food service was under way, establishing Julius Castle as among the oldest San Francisco restaurants at its original location with its original name.

This amazing structure combines fairy tale elements, such as pointed arched windows and medieval-style battlements on the upper balconies, all mixed with Gothic Revival and Arts-and-Crafts influences. Interior wood paneling was reputedly purchased from the city’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. (more…)