San Francisco Landmarks
Jack's Restaurant, the second oldest in San Francisco, originally opened at this site in 1864. (The oldest restaurant in San Francisco is Tadich Grill, two blocks from here on California Street.)
The following is excerpted from a 15 December 2000 report in the San Francisco Chronicle by Carolyn Jones:
Jack's is the kind of restaurant where businessmen, politicians, high- society types and celebrities would spend two hours, minimum, over lunch. There's a bottomless supply of red wine and fresh crusty sourdough, and no one looks at their watch or tabulates calories.
But that doesn't mean patrons are focused solely on eating and drinking. The sport of choice at Jack's is jockeying for the optimum table to see and be seen. Or, in some cases, not be seen.
That's where the second-floor private dining rooms come in -- a throwback to the days when Jack's was a popular bordello. The rooms have long since been converted to private dining rooms, each named for Jack's regulars such as Herb Caen and Alfred Hitchcock....
For most of Jack's existence, the atmosphere was dark, smoky and crowded, and the clientele was almost entirely male. The waiters were cranky old men, and the walls were lined with hat hooks.
"The story goes that businessmen would eat in the upstairs rooms with their secretaries at lunch, and downstairs in the main dining room with their wives for dinner...."
French-born chef Philippe Jeanty purchased Jack's in early 2002 and operated it as a brasserie, Jeanty at Jack's, until it abruptly closed in May 2009.