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This restaurant and watering hole in a former boarding house dates back to 1916. Local dock workers and sailors frequented the joint to enjoy a drink. Starting in 1952, it became famous for serving an Irish coffee (a proprietary recipe adapted from a drink on offer at Ireland's Shannon Airport) topped off with a jolt of whiskey. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library
2765 Hyde St.; thebuenavista.com
Today, the cafe carries on the tradition of serving its famous Irish coffees, which are so popular that the spot churns out as many as 2,000 cups a day. Photo by Erik Nocke
This place got its start in 1871, when Gottlieb Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon on Pacific Street and turned it into a brewery. After the earthquake of 1906, Anchor relocated to a new South of Market address and continued to brew, unofficially of course, through Prohibition.
1705 Mariposa St.; anchorbrewing.com
In 1977, the company moved to its current location, a former coffee-roasting factory building that dates back to 1937. Anchor’s revival of old-world steam beer techniques inspired much of today’s craft beer movement, and in the 1970s, the brewery emerged as a pioneer of microbrewing.
The Old Clam House, on Bayshore Boulevard in Bayview, has been in the same location since Abraham Lincoln was president. Established in 1861 as the Oakdale Bar & Clam House, the restaurant served sailors and longshoremen who worked in the city’s thriving fishing industry.
299 Bayshore Blvd.; theoldclamhousesf.com
Today, the restaurant has expanded, but the bar area maintains the building’s original structure. It’s a bit of a secret hideout, and it still serves up piping bowls of its famous clam chowder.
One of Japantown’s original businesses, Benkyodo dates back to 1906. The owners, the Okamura family, were detained in an internment camp in Colorado during World War II, but they reopened the confectionary when they were returned to San Francisco at the end of the war. Known then as the Benkyodo Candy Factory, the company specialized in the Japanese confections mochi and manju. Photo courtesy of Gary Ono
1747 Buchanan St.; benkyodocompany.com
Today, it’s the last remaining manufacturer of traditional Japanese sweets in San Francisco. The company produces several hundred pieces of mochi and manju a day in 15 different varieties, using a traditional handmade method that was brought to the U.S. in 1906. Benkyodo is a favorite among Japanese tourists, who come to enjoy traditional handmade Japanese desserts that are becoming less common in Japan. Photo by Tory Putnam
Dating back to 1908, the Hotel Utah Saloon is a relic of the Barbary Coast era. In its early days, it drew a colorful crowd of gamblers, ladies of the night, politicians, hustlers and gold seekers. The original owners, the Deininger family, commissioned Belgian furniture makers to create the ornate back bar.
500 Fourth St.; hotelutah.com
This bar and music venue has a history of attracting a celebrity clientele, including Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Bing Crosby. Early in their careers, celebs like Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams graced the stage to test out new material. And today, Hotel Utah hosts indie talent and up-and-coming musicians, plus their popular open-mic Mondays. Photo by Michael Macor
We all know that San Franciscans have a certain nostalgia for the city’s past. And amidst all the new development--high-rises and luxury condos galore--are a number of classic bars, restaurants, cafes and concert halls that help preserve the city’s rich history.
Fearing that some of these local institutions might go the way of the dodo, the SF Heritage organization stepped in and created Legacy Bars and Restaurants, an online database of 100 establishments that have been around for more than 40 years and feature distinctive architecture or design.
You can pick up the handy SF Heritage map--available at public library branches, visitors’ centers and the like--to see the selections.
But start by checking out our slideshow to see some of the Legacy’s oldest businesses and how they’ve stood the test of time.
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