Closed Restaurants in Sausalito
This is the only comprehensive online list of old Sausalito restaurants from the City’s past… with some not-so-old ones as well! If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know.
This list reminds us that running a restaurant is a hard job and that we all should respect the people who do it. See also Our List of Sausalito Retailers That Have Closed. If a restaurant was operating as of 2008 it means we covered them here at OurSausalito.com, and we have left the old articles in place and linked to them below.
Alley Art Bar — Opened in 2011 as a small gallery and wine tasting room in an alley near the intersection of Princess St. and Bridgeway, Alley Art Bar suffered from the familiar syndrome known as “close to Bridgeway is a tough location for retail when you compete against places that are right on Bridgeway”. The space is now part of Il Piccolo Caffe. They could not generate the same foot traffic as Bridgeway denizens Real Napa Wine Tasting one block south or tasting room cum art gallery Bacchus and Venus a long block to the north, and did not have the food offerings of the now-closed Wellington’s Wine Bar.
The Alta Mira Hotel and Restaurant — Once the “Only the best for you, baby!” place for Birthdays, Big Meetings and Bar Mitzvahs in Sausalito, the one-time “most elegant hotel in Marin” is now a rehab center for The Rich and Famous. The fabulous-view restaurant (pictured in a 1950’s publicity postcard at left) is closed to the public. The link above in this paragraph has more information. The restaurant was for a number of years referred to separately as The Continental.
Amy’s Cafe — Closed in 2011 after two separate brief runs offering Japanese and Korean food in the old Peter Pan Donuts building. As our Dining Editor Henry Stephens put it, this is the root of the “tragedy of Sausalito having no place to buy bubble tea.” The space is now a caviar tasting room.
Antidote — Had a short life in the space that had been Chart House, then was succeeded by Gaylord India, now closed. Famous for its anti-gourmand chef-owner who would use chalk to scrawl his contempt for traditional cuisine on the cast iron fixtures in the kitchen.
Arawan Thai — Like many other restaurants on this list, Arawan Thai closed for over a year for repairs and remodeling and then stayed closed for an extended period of time. Unlike those other restaurants, as of late 2016 they appear almost ready to reopen, after a hiatus of almost a year and a half.
Arbordale French Cuisine — One of restaurateur Peter Alioto’s restaurants back in the 1960’s. The Arbordale area of Sausalito — a term now forgotten — a century ago was the downtown neighborhood centered on Viña del Mar Park.
Blue Fin Inn — 1950’s occupant of the building that houses Saylor’s.
Bridgeway Inn — In the 1940’s and 1950’s this restaurant and bar occupied the building that now houses Angelino.
Cafe Rio — Coffee Shop in the office building at 3030 Bridgeway, now closed.
Caffe Trieste — Now Taste of Rome.
Caruso’s — Now Fish.
Chart House — Operated for many years on the site of the old Valhalla, became Antidote, then another short stint as Valhalla, then Gaylord India, now closed. Current plans are to convert the historic building into condo’s.
Christophe’s — For many years a very well known and renowned French restaurant that drew patrons from San Francisco as well as Marin, the building now houses a hair salon next to Fred’s Coffee Shop. We’ll leave it to you to decide if this is a comment on Christophe’s cuisine, community culture, or compulsive alliteration.
Conglomeration Bar — After 1993 this building housed Gatsby’s for many years, then Sausalito Chop House, then Rustico, then Plate Shop, and now Fast Food Francais. We hope that F3 breaks the “post-Gatsby’s curse” in this location.
The Continental — The 1950’s and 1960’s name of the restaurant at the The Alta Mira Hotel.
Cork Enoteca — Wine Bar next door to the Fire Station — now the site of Philz Coffee.
Deck House — After the closure of Purity Market Deck House took over the space as a restaurant. Succeeded by Houlihan’s, which lasted from 1980-1998, then became Water Street Grille. Upstairs now extensively remodeled and reopened as Barrel House; downstairs is now Il Piccolo Caffe.
Fireside Hotel, Bar and Dining Room — The building with the big sign still exists on Shoreline Highway just north of the Buckeye Roadhouse, but it has been closed for years and most recently was upgraded for accessible housing. The Fireside is actually in Mill Valley, but on all its marketing materials it referred to its location as Sausalito.
Frank & Clara’s Cafe — In the 1960’s the storefronts were divided differently and this home-style lunch place at 216 Caledonia St. was sandwiched between present day Smitty’s Bar (which appears to have expanded into this space) and Sausalito Bright Cleaners.
Fukusuke — Moved to Larkspur, where they ironically are located next door to an outpost of Sausalito-based Avatar’s. Their old spot is now the home of Rossetti Pizzeria, which relocated from San Anselmo in return for Sausalito’s 2nd round pick in the following year’s restaurant draft and a diner to be named later. Now the home of Sandrino.
Gate 5 Road — Became Saylor’s Landing, now Sausalito Seahorse.
Gatsby’s — The only modern restaurant to have more than a short run in this building on Caledonia St. prior to Fast Food Francais, with great deep dish pizza,a wood stove and a gracious Persian owner who looked (and walked) like Capt. Jean Luc Picard. If you were regulars like us (we lived just up the hill at the time) this was part of the fun of coming in and being welcomed by name and escorted to your favorite table near the wood stove. Became Treviso, then Sausalito Chop House, then Rustico, then Plate Shop, now Fast Food Francais. If anyone in Sausalito ever figures out how to re-create their deep dish pizza recipe we will be regular customers within 15 minutes.
Gaylord India — Part of a national chain of Indian restaurants that ran into economic trouble (not to mention trouble with the County Health Dept.), Gaylord’s was located in the old Valhalla and Chart House space. It closed in December, 2008, earning the dubious honor of being the first restaurant we covered on OurSausalito.com to go out of business. The link above still takes you to our 2008 assessment of their cuisine!
Giovanni’s Pizza — Renamed Venice Pizzeria in 2012 to reflect their long-term shared ownership with next door neighbor Venice Gourmet Deli.
Glad Hand — This hip 1950’s and 60’s inhabitant of a landmark waterfront building replaced a less-than-reputable (or more-than-rowdy) club called Tin Angel in 1951 in the building now occupied by Scoma’s. Glad Hand had a famous large hand logo and hand-lettered sign on the side of the building, shown in the photo at left. This was a landmark of the Beat Generation in Sausalito, next door to The Trident (see below; photo courtesy of Scoma’s). Thanks to John Leydecker for reminding us about the outlines of famous people’s hands that were plastered all over the interior walls!
Guernica — For years a successful Basque restaurant that was consistently included in “Best of Marin” lists, now Saylor’s. The “Bay Area Best Restaurants” listings in newspapers during the 1970’s and 80’s would grudgingly include a few places outside San Francisco, and Guernica was often given one of those “token non-SF” spots. One of our editors used to work for a local company that gave a Guernica gift certificate to all the employees as its Holiday present every year.
H. Salt Fish and Chips — After being acquired by Ice Cream Tycoon Michael Lappert the franchise name was dropped and the shop became Fish and Chips of Sausalito, with a Lappert’s Ice Cream counter added. There’s also a separate Lappert’s Ice Cream shop down the street on Bridgeway, hence the occasional confusion about “the two Lappert’s shops.”
Houlihan’s — A centerpiece of downtown Sausalito from 1980-1998, became Water Street Grille. Upstairs has just reopened as Barrel House; downstairs is now Il Piccolo Caffe. This was one end of the famed “Houlihan’s to Houlihan’s 12K” race that ran between the two restaurants (in San Francisco and Sausalito) from 1984 through 2002. The race continues today as the “Emerald Across the Bay 12K” that runs from Fort Baker in Sausalito across the Golden Gate to San Francisco. Less well known were events like the 1980 beer drinking contest judged by the members of Jefferson Starship, a contest whose entrants included at St. Bernard dog. The building is the former home of the Purity Market (see bottom section below).
Il Piccolo Cafe — This Italian cafe adjacent to Yee Tock Chee Park was involved in a series of squabbles over who could sit at the tables in the free public-shore access areas that they colonized for outdoor seating to take advantage of the fantastic views. Regulators finally posted signs above the patio saying, “Anyone can sit here without buying something and it’s a public space,” with a phone number to report problems. They closed in 2016 after a ten-year run.
Il Piccolo Teatro — A beautiful remodel of the dark, old Paterson’s Bar that opened at the start of the Recession, it featured wine and small plates of Italian food. Along with newly opened Barrel House this was one of the two nicest architectural redesigns of the last few years in Sausalito. We feel that if they’d opened in 2005 or in 2011 they would have caught the wave, but instead it was 2008 and they got stuck with the runoff. The opening of a second restaurant in town with the prefix “Il Piccolo” in the name didn’t help. Il Piccolo Teatro closed in 2011, replaced in Spring, 2012 by Copita after another major remodel to change the ambiance from Italian to Mexican.
Jan’s — A lunch counter located inside the Rexall Drug Store at the corner of Bridgeway and El Portal in the late 1940’s and the 1950’s. The lunch counter faced through the front window of the store, so you could sit there and watch the world go by and enjoy what we now call Vina Del Mar Park, It was a popular meeting spot, and the standard meal was fresh salad, casserole of the day and a dessert.
Juanita’s Galley — During the 1960’s and early 1970’s this was a famous artists’ and musicians’ gathering place on the old ferry boat nicknamed The Ark (see below), and a restaurant by the same name from the same impresario also operated for a time from a building on Gate 5 Road. Owner Juanita Musson was famous for her trademark brightly colored muu-muu’s and her fiery personality. A long-time fixture in the Sausalito Art and Maritime community, she passed away in 2011 at the age of 87.
Kench’s Restaurant — It may surprise you to know that 125 years ago Sausalito was already known for having fiine European style restaurants. Located on Caledonia St., in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s Kench’s was the successor to the highly respected Madame Rety’s French Restaurant, starting in 1887. Kench’s Restaurant closed in about 1895, and the structure was demolished in 1921.
Latitude 38 — In the early 1970’s this was an eating and drinking place in Sausalito. Anyone have any more than that to share with us?
Lion’s Share — In 1968 this was a small folk and rock club at 100 Caledonia St., at the corner of Caledonia and Pine. The Grateful Dead played there at least once, as did other seminal local bands. The building burned down in 1969, and the club relocated to San Anselmo, where it lasted until 1974. A small office building now occupies the location.