Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dear John’s

Anyone who’s read Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (and who among us hasn’t?) knows about John’s Grill in downtown San Francisco. Located on the edge of the Tenderloin neighborhood, just north of Market Street and convenient to a BART Station and the Powell Street cable-car tracks, that wood-paneled and photograph-filled eatery was founded in 1908, just two years after the city’s ruinous earthquake and fire. According to its Web site, John’s Grill “was the first downtown restaurant to open after the quake.” Hammett used to eat there in the 1920s, when he was working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in the nearby John Flood Building, and he went on to immortalize the joint in his only Sam Spade novel.

In any case, Bay Area newspaper reporter Peter Hegarty—a Rap Sheet reader—just sent me the following news release about tomorrow’s 110th anniversary party for John’s Grill, suggesting that others might find it interesting, as well:
San Francisco — The 110th Birthday of Historic John’s Grill will be celebrated beginning at 12:00 noon, Thursday, November 29th, with Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett and over 200 friends and patrons of John’s Grill. Celebrity watchers will not be disappointed.

Historic John's Grill was one of the first restaurants to rebuild out of the rubble and ashes of San Francisco’s Great 1906 Earthquake & Fire and is the 27th “Literary Landmark” in the United States. Just off Union Square, John’s Grill was made famous internationally by Dashiell Hammett’s 1927 “Maltese Falcon” mystery novel (later a classic Humphrey Bogart movie): “Sam Spade went to John’s Grill, asked the waiter to hurry his order of chops, baked potato, sliced tomatoes and was smoking a cigarette with his coffee when …” was written by Hammett, who ate at John’s while working next door in the Flood Building as a Pinkerton agent. Detectives, politicians, reporters, and celebrities have been coming to John’s Grill for the past century. Their pictures adorn the walls above their tables and you never know whom you might see at John’s Grill. Be sure to visit the Grill’s Hammett museum located on the third floor and see the 150-pound lead-filled bronze statue of the famous Maltese Falcon.

WHO: Fifty-Piece Washington High School Marching Eagles, San Francisco Mayor London Breed Former San Francisco Mayors [Willie] Brown and [Frank] Jordan, Dashiell Hammett's granddaughter Julie Rivett, John’s Grill owner John Konstin and family; 200 well-known San Franciscans, Politicians, Politicos, Newsies, detectives and Maltese Falcon fans.

WHAT: The 110th Birthday of Historic John’s Grill

WHERE: John's Grill, 63 Ellis Street (between Stockton & Powell streets)

WHEN: 12 Noon — 2:00 PM, Thursday, November 29th
John’s Grill is one of my customary stops whenever I’m visiting San Francisco. Unfortunately, I won’t be there tomorrow to help celebrate its latest anniversary, but I shall be sure to tip a glass in honor of its continuing existence and the novel that made it famous.

READ MORE:John’s Grill Marks Its Centennial,” by John Coté
(San Francisco Chronicle).

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