Pompei's Grotto opened on February 1, 1946. Proprietors Frank and Marian Pompei
started with a small location which included just one counter, six stools, and five
tables. They served only seafood cocktails, cracked crab, spaghetti, and sandwiches.
From that humble beginning the restaurant expanded three times.
The history of the Pompei family has always been associated with the sea and fishing.
The family hails from San Benedetto d'Ancona in Italy, a seaport community on the
Adriatic Coast famed for its beautiful beaches and fishing industry.
In 1913, Frank's father Mario, at the age of 16, arrived in San Francisco, determined
to make his mark in the new world, and found employment as a boss fisherman on a
trawler. During the next 30 years as a fisherman, he made annual trips of three
to four months long to fish for salmon in Alaska. He traveled there first by sail
ship, then by steamship, and finally he was among the first of the Pacific fisherman
to get to the region by plane for the salmon season. For many years after he hung
up his sailing cap he could be found running the crabstand in front of the restaurant.
Frank, like his father, had a deep passion for the sea and a love for the old Wharf.
As a boy, he fished with his dad and worked after school selling clams, crabs, and
seafood cocktails from crabstands and fish depots. When the war ended, he and his
wife Marian opened the small breakfast and lunch restaurant on the Wharf where he
grew up working with his father. Like his father and many others, he helped develop
Fisherman's Wharf into one of the most colorful and pleasant places for any tourist
or native to go for lunch or dinner.
We are delighted to have many original customers and their families still visit
us, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our first patrons,
and we still have staff from the "early days." Loyal customers from around the world
return and greet us every time they come back to San Francisco.
The Pompei family is still keeping it in the family. Stop by to say hi to Frank's
daughter Nancy, who runs the whole place, and son-in-law Gayne, who, after cooking
for more than forty years, still puts in an occasional guest appearance. Daughter
Amy can sometimes be found in the office and her husband Vincenzo pretty much runs
most of the day to day business, including cooking his Sicilian specialties. And
their kids Vincenzo Junior and Frankie fill in hosting and waiting tables when school
schedules allow. Their son Tom can be found cooking most nights, and his wife Keri
greets customers in the front of the house most of those. If you can't find one
of us on site, a rare occasion, ask for one of the many cousins and relatives filling
in who will take great care of you. It's truly a hands-on family affair.