SF Seafood Restaurant’s 1936 Menu With 15-Cent Clam Chowder Goes Viral


About. The 1936 menu at longtime San Francisco seafood restaurant Alioto’s has caught the attention of many on Facebook with its surprisingly low prices.

Clam chowder is 15 cents, lobster cocktail 25 cents and half a dozen oysters on the half shell 40 cents. A half order of cracked crab is 30 cents, while a splurge on a full serving is 50 cents. You want wine with that? A small glass is worth 5 cents.

The menu was shared Sunday in the San Francisco Remembered Facebook group by Janice Steward, who says she found it among her mother’s belongings, who was born and raised in the city.

Steward’s post has been liked over 1,000 times and many in the comments remember the “good old” days when “you could have a great experience with a pocket of 50 cents”.

“Wow! To go back to those times and prices! I’d eat the whole menu!!!” writes one.

Considering that the average annual income in the United States in 1936 was between $1,500 and $2,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices seem appropriate for the times. And in the comments, many are doing the math and making this point.

“Yes, a $2.50 lobster dinner sounds amazing if you’re making $100,000/year, but that’s not how comparing those prices works,” writes one Facebook user.

But when you look at the menu through the lens of someone living in San Francisco today, when the city’s average annual income is now $80,000, a median-priced home costs $1.5 million. dollars, the prices are shockingly low compared to what you would pay today. .

SF resident Joyce Slaton Lollar recently dined at Alioto and notes today’s higher prices in the menu comments.

“I took my daughter there last year and dinner for the two of us was about $65 or $70,” she wrote. “We had an amazing time; we were seated at a window with a view of the water, I had sand, she had seafood pasta, we both felt lucky to live in our beautiful city! “

SFGATE also reviewed Alioto’s current menu and made price comparisons. Shrimp Cocktail is $15 today, down from 15 cents in 1936. A Louie Shrimp Salad is $25 and back then it was 30 cents.

Alioto’s has been in the same family for nearly 90 years and got its start as a fishmonger in 1925 after Nunzio Alioto moved from the small family town of Sant’Elia in Sicily to San Francisco. The restaurant was built on Fisherman’s Wharf in 1932, a second story was added in 1957, and a fire ravaged the interior the same year before the building that still stands today was constructed on the same site.

The menu is copyrighted in 1936 and Henry Voigt, an expert on historical menus, says that means the menu was used in that year or in later years, but based on the prices he thinks 1936 is probably pretty accurate.

Voigt also points out that beer and wine are priced the same, which might surprise people, as wine today typically costs twice the price of beer.

“This menu came out right after Prohibition,” says Voigt. “So they offer wine but people had lost the taste for wine. There was no great wine culture back then.”

In other words, if you could hop in a time machine and return to Alioto in 1936, you’d want to bring your loose change AND a bottle of today’s wine.

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