It’s a well-known story for many who’ve lived in San Francisco lengthy sufficient when the tip of 1 metropolis custom should make means for a brand new one. And with the reopening of the Sir Francis Drake Resort because the Beacon Grand this spring, the 80-year-old custom of the Beefeaters has come to an finish. However for Eddie Strickland, who wore the purple uniform on the Union Sq. lodge for almost 20 years, the custom lives on in a brand new means: Strickland is hanging his flower-rimmed hats in 4 San Francisco eating establishments, as symbols of days now gone.
Strickland can hint his path from a doorman on the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf to auditioning in entrance of 5 managers for the doorman place at Sir Francis Drake Resort to a cameo (of types) within the 2005 Jennifer Aniston film, “Rumor Has It.” There have been lunches yearly in December when a bunch of doormen from lodges throughout town would meet up at eating places starting from Lefty O’Doul’s to Morton’s to Moose’s in North Seashore and Castagnola’s on the wharf. “We’d usually get about 35 doormen — and keep in mind now we’re in uniform — so after we go to those lunches the place you get 35 guys and all these totally different coloured uniforms and so forth, we’d have a blast,” Strickland recollects.
Strickland credit former Beefeater and doorman Tom Sweeney with beginning the custom of forsaking a Beefeater hat at iconic San Francisco eating places; now Strickland will finish it. Sweeney retired in January 2020 after 43 years, and someplace alongside the way in which, left his hat with the house owners of Unique Joe’s in North Seashore. It was throughout dinner at that restaurant when Strickland seen the acquainted wide-brimmed hat on the bar. He knew it couldn’t belong to LaBan Wade, one other 20-year Beefeater veteran, and figured it needed to be Sweeney’s.
Though Strickland and Wade have been each laid off in March 2020 when the lodge closed as a part of the citywide shutdown, Strickland’s been holding onto his hats till a month in the past when he determined to half with them at his favourite spots within the metropolis: Up to now, Strickland has given hats to 7 Mile Home and the Previous Clam Home, with two others left to present. “We’ve rapport over all these years with these eating places and in order that’s how that began,” Strickland says. “After which all I’m doing is I’m ending issues, in a means, as a result of there’s no extra of us.”
Unique Joe’s house owners John and Elena Duggan say their household restaurant’s ties to native lodges return to when the restaurant first resided at 144 Taylor Road within the Tenderloin. “Tom and his colleagues on the door, that they had their finger on the heart beat of San Francisco in all respects,” John Duggan says. “It was a one-stop store by way of getting an actual true image of what was happening in San Francisco.” When the restaurant moved to North Seashore in 2012, the Duggans hosted the annual doormen’s lunch, attended by former mayors Ed Lee and Willie Brown. The Duggans can’t recall when Sweeney’s hat got here into their possession however agree safekeeping the hat is humbling, and an honor, calling the lodge doormen the “nice ambassadors of San Francisco.”
Elena Duggan says the hats are a “traditional image of Previous San Francisco,” synonymous with hospitality within the metropolis. “We take a look at that hat and it’s only a reminder of who and what we need to be,” she says. “Caring for our visitors and offering one of the best hospitality and being one of the best ambassadors we are able to, within the metropolis that we love a lot and have been born and raised in.”
7 Mile Home proprietor Vanessa Garcia agrees being gifted a hat is an honor, acknowledging the selflessness of freely giving one thing so vital to the previous doormen. “It’s one thing that must be on show, it’s one thing that must be happy with, one thing that must be not forgotten,” she says. “I believe it ought to make folks suppose that they shouldn’t take something as a right.”
Already, Strickland is considering the place his final two Beefeater hats will land. The locations chosen up to now are ones he and Sweeney frequented, locations they’ve a rapport with, and which are San Francisco staples. Previous Clam Home proprietor Filomena Florese says it suits that this a part of San Francisco historical past is being housed at one of many oldest eating places in San Francisco.
John Duggan says the tip of the Beefeaters indicators the dwindling variety of long-lasting San Francisco traditions. “We’re proud to nonetheless be related and nonetheless taking that as one among our obligations going ahead, representing San Francisco and its historical past,” he says. In that vein, the Duggans need to host an upcoming doormen lunch at their restaurant, in hopes of conserving that custom alive.
A number of the hats are within the means of being readied for show: Garcia is planning a show case for the hat at 7 Mile Home; the Duggans are safekeeping their hat of their workplace whereas they work out the place to show it; in the meantime, the Previous Clam Home has the hat hanging from the lip of the again bar. However for Garcia, the hat isn’t just a reminder of town’s historical past, but in addition of the customer support eating places present their clients. “It actually provides a lot satisfaction as a result of it makes me suppose, ‘Hey, we weren’t only a restaurant to him, we truly meant one thing extra to him than only a place to eat,’” Garcia says. “I’m not right here to simply feed folks, I’m right here to create wonderful, unforgettable experiences for the individuals who come to go to — and in order that’s means greater and far more vital than feeding folks.”