San Francisco isn't the oldest city in the country. But if we've learned anything from the Gold Dust Lounge, it's that we take our historic haunts seriously.
Further evidence: the Old Clam House, celebrating 150 years of business. Sitting on Bayshore Boulevard at the edge of Bayview and Bernal Heights, the restaurant has been in operation at the same location since 1861. For reference, that's the year Abraham Lincoln took office.
The restaurant officially marked a century and a half in December, but finally toasted the milestone -- and the completion of an extensive renovation -- with a party on Thursday.
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One of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco (Tadich Grill holds the official title, but has moved locations several time), the restaurant was originally on the water before the Bay was filled up after the 1906 earthquake. According to lore, the restaurant was connected to downtown by a two-mile plank road, and was a popular haunt for dockworkers and fisherman looking for a free shot of clam juice, and a schooner of beer and lunch for a nickel.
Though as could be expected for a 150-year-old business, the Old Clam House has seen some controversy in recent days.
A few years back, San Francisco restaurateurs Jerry and Jennifer Dal Bozzo –- the business team behind tourist traps like the Stinking Rose, Calzone's and Franciscan Crab Restaurant –- took the place over and quickly overhauled both the menu and the restaurant.
"I thought it would be fun," said Jerry Dal Bozzo to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"My husband and I both grew up with outings to the Old Clam House," said Jennifer to The Huffington Post. "We wanted to preserve the old nostalgia of San Francisco for future generations."
Included in the update were renovations to the ornate tin ceiling, the addition of etched glass panels found buried in the restaurant attic, a glassed-in patio and a revitalization to both the bar and dining room. The menu kept classic seafood favorites (including the complementary clam juice palate cleanser), but added quite a few Dal Bozzo signatures, as well.
And while the Dal Bozzos are native San Franciscans, our local nostalgia-lovers were more than a little bit cautious.
Some reviews of the updated restaurant were harsher than others. ("I've eaten better at Outback Steak House, and for less money," wrote SFWeekly's Jonathan Kauffman.) But many argued that the new owners afforded the restaurant a much-needed makeover. And though the menu at the Old Clam House may have experienced some recent tourist-washing, we think the place can still make a mean pail of clams.
Here at The Huffington Post, we say cheers to 150 years. Check out photos of the renovations and the restaurant in the 1800s in the slideshow below:
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