Three Old School Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurants Listed as Permanently Closed
Update: Good news! The Chronicle reported that Pompei’s Grotto will be reopening but the fate of the other two places is still unclear.
A Facebook post came across my feed this morning saying that three old school San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants were listed as permanently closed, so I decided to look into it. Pompei’s Grotto, Castagnola’s, and Tarantino’s have all been on the wharf for a very long time and unfortunately it looks like their time might be up.
Now I can not say conclusively that they are all permanently closed since none of the restaurants have replied to my emails or FB messages, so if they are miraculously not closed, don’t call me a liar. I’m just reporting the overwhelming evidence out there at the moment, and I will update this if/when I hear back from the restaurants. The fact that they are “listed as permanently closed” is irrefutable though and that’s what I’m reporting.
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Started as a crab stand in 1916, Castagnola’s was the oldest restaurant on on Fisherman’s Wharf. Not only that, one of the restaurant’s founders, Tomaso Castagnola, purportedly created the Dungeness crab cocktail for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition. According to wikipedia, he and his family owned and operated the restaurant until it was sold in 1975. It was then bought by a retired Army general named Andrew Lolli who ran it until his death in 2006 when his stepdaughters took over.
Sadly, Castagnola’s is listed as “permanently closed” on Google, Yelp, and OpenTable. When I called, the phone was disconnected. Also, the wikipedia entry uses the past tense, saying Castagnola’s “was” the oldest restaurant on the wharf, not “is” the oldest restaurant.
Opened in 1946 by Gene McAteer and Dan Sweeney Jr, two local Irish boys back from WW2, the named is derived from that fact that the building was owned by the Tarantino fishing family. According to Paolo Lucchesi’s story on Inside Scoop, “The two young entrepreneurs thought McAteer’s or Sweeney’s wouldn’t sound right next to the establishments of the Sabellas, Castagnolas, Aliotos, DiMaggios and other Little Italy community members. They purchased rights to the Tarantino name, all the while referring to themselves as ‘the two Irishmen of Fisherman’s Wharf’ and pinning shamrocks to their own and their staff’s lapels.”
According to the history on their website, Pompei’s Grotto was opened on February 1, 1946 by proprietors Frank and Marian Pompei. What started as a small location with just one counter, six stools, and five tables was expanded three separate times over the years. It has been family owned an operated since it first opened.
Unfortunately they are listed as “permanently closed” on Google. When I called it said the number was disconnected or changed. They are not listed as “permanently closed” on Yelp and the last review was March 2020. OpenTable says it is no longer in its reservation network.