San Mateo County Points of Interest

Moss Beach Distillery 12 January 2009

Moss Beach Distillery 12 January 2009

California Historical Landmark #24: Portola Camp and Discovery of San Francisco Bay Official format for California Historical Landmark markers
20 October 2004

Moss Beach Distillery
140 Beach Way
Moss Beach
Built 1927

The marker reads:

Historical Landmark
California Point of Historical Interest

During Prohibition, the San Mateo Coast was an ideal spot for rum running, bootleggers and “speakeasies,” establishments which sold illegal booze to thirsty clients.

One of the most successful speakeasies of the era was “Frank’s Place” on the cliffs at Moss Beach. Built by Frank Torres in 1927, “Frank’s” became a popular nightspot for silent film stars and politicians from the City. Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett frequented the place and used it as a setting for one of his detective stories.

The restaurant, located on the cliff, above a secluded beach was a perfect location to benefit from the clandestine activities of Canadian rum-runners. Under cover of darkness and fog, illegal whiskey was landed on the beach, dragged up a steep cliff and loaded into waiting vehicles for transport to San Francisco. Some of the booze always found its way into the garage beneath “Frank’s Place.” Frank Torres used his excellent political and social connections to operate a highly successful, if illegal, business. Unlike many of the other speakeasies along the coast, “Frank’s Place” was never raided.

With the repeal of the prohibition in 1933 Frank Torres remained in the food service business as one of the most successful restaurateurs along the San Mateo County coastside. “Frank’s Place” now called The Moss Beach Distillery still retains its spectacular view and secluded location above the ocean coves.

The Distillery also retains one of “Frank’s” former customers, as well. Its resident ghost, "The Blue Lady” still haunts the premises, trying to recapture the romance and excitement of “Frank’s” speakeasy years. The story of The Blue Lady was documented by the TV program "Unsolved Mysteries", and has been seen by millions of people around the world. Perhaps you will see her today!

The designer of the Moss Beach Distillery marker paid homage to standard California Historical Landmark plaques, including the two stars but not the bear. The plaque commemorating the discovery of San Francisco Bay, located about six miles north of Moss Beach on State Route 1, is a typical California Historical Landmark plaque.

Prev | Next
San Mateo County: List | Map
California: List | Map