Original Joe’s history runs deep, beginning in 1937 as a 14-stool counter on a saw dust covered floor at 144 Taylor Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. It was opened by a Croatian immigrant, Tony Rodin, who had witnessed hunger, war and adversity—a man who landed here in search of the American Dream and the promise to provide something great for those who had the will to seize it. It was Tony’s will, honest work ethic and vibrant sense of hospitality that grew Original Joe’s into the culinary institution it is today.
Serving classic Italian-American fare, the restaurant prepares dishes in an open kitchen for all to see, providing hearty portions at reasonable prices. The oldest of all the “Joe’s” restaurants, Original Joe’s is the innovator of the now nationally known “Joe’s Concept”—exhibition kitchen, notable leather booths, smooth cocktails and renowned Italian-American menu. Known as much for its comfortable familiarity as for its abundant portions, the menu offers hamburgers, steaks, seafood and pastas, which now represent a Northern-California style of food that delivers the feeling of hope, camaraderie and optimism synonymous with the American Dream.
Today, Original Joe’s has succeeded in establishing a high-profile, yet approachable identity in San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area, standing tall among the well-known restaurants and bars—a place genuinely worthy of its proven credential.
In the late 1930’s, original owner Tony Rodin partnered with Louis Rocca. In 1983, after a fulfilling 40-year partnership, Louis left and sold his share of the business to Tony’s daughter and son-in-law, Marie and John J. Duggan. The trio tackled it together—Marie assumed control of the day-to-day operations and monitored the kitchen production, John tended to the door and floor management, and Tony did it all, from cooking and butchering to bartending with the best of them. As the years passed, the children of John and Marie Duggan became young adults and followed in their parents’ footsteps of active involvement in the restaurant. First daughter Elena and soon-after son, John, both became part of what is now a three-generation family business.
It was 2007 when a disastrous fire started in the hotel above the restaurant and destroyed Original Joe’s at 144 Taylor Street. Undaunted, John and Elena were committed to taking over the family business and restoring the vision of their grandfather in a community that would welcome the rebirth of his dream. It took five long years, but now it stands proud in North Beach, serving both residents and visitors in a landmark tradition well-earned over eight decades.