Business of the Month:
Sam's Anchor Cafe
Sam's Celebrates 95 Years in Tiburon!

Sam's Anchor Cafe, one of the Bay Area's signature destinations for outdoor dining, and a favorite hangout for Tiburon locals, celebrates its 95th year in business this year.

This remarkable business all started with a small tent on the beach pitched by Sam Vella, a Maltese sailor, steward and laundry worker. Sam was a short, paunchy man, said to have the eyes and smile of a merry bulldog, who after traveling the world ended up in San Francisco and eventually settled in Tiburon.

In 1920, Sam pitched a tent on the Tiburon beach and started serving breakfast and lunch to railroad workers, sailors and fishermen.  Over the next three months he built the restaurant now known as Sam’s Anchor Cafe.

Prohibition was in effect when Sam opened and it is said that this famous restaurant was once the hub of bootlegging activity and that is how Sam made his fortune. In addition to his own still on Corinthian Island Sam had rum coming in from Central America which was smuggled into the restaurant from the water through a trap door in the kitchen floor with a ferocious guard dog on the nearby deck.

Sam had a network of Tiburon townspeople who would tell him if government agents were planning a raid. One story has him being warned of an impending raid by a railroad telegraph worker and by the time the agents arrived a prayer meeting was being held at Sam’s.

Sam’s success was not due just to Prohibition however. The restaurant thrived through World War II and after, expanding several more times.  People came for miles for good seafood and to enjoy the views, but most of all to visit with Sam, who made one and all feel welcome.

Sam sold the restaurant in 1960 returning to Malta where he died 2 years later.

In 1978, a group of local investors acquired Sam's and brought in current owners Steve Sears and Brian Wilson as partners/managers. (Steve and Brian subsequently bought out everybody else.)

Steve and Brian, along with a great management crew, continue to be actively involved in every aspect of management continuing Sam’s spirit and legacy with a warm inviting venue with great food and the sure knowledge that there isn’t anyone more important than their guests. Indeed a place where everyone knows your name.

Their hard work has paid off, and Sam’s is now a “destination restaurant” with patrons from all over the world coming back again and again.  While keeping the old style feel of the restaurant they have upgraded just about everything from the floor to the ceiling. Steve says “our goal is to upgrade without making a change.  It looks the same as the past…but the only thing that is the same is the actual bar itself, everything else is new.”

Brian says “even though we are a tourist destination and pushing 100 years old we keep up with contemporary eating habits using only trans-fat free oil, local and seasonal ingredients, sustainably harvested seafood and organic produce whenever possible.  Our menu has pretty much something for everyone including gluten-free and vegetarian items.”

Sam’s is an integral part of the Tiburon community and so too are Steve and Brian. Both partners do their part to “give back” to the community. Brian is involved in helping his hometown of Sausalito and many charities in Marin County, in particular Sunny Hills and the Environmental Traveling Companions, while Steve has been a member of the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce since 1978 and sits on many other local boards. “It behooves every business person to figure out a way to promote business here,” he said, “and the chamber is the best vehicle to do that.”

To help celebrate this remarkable achievement, Sam’s is sponsoring Friday Nights on Main on August 28, from 6 to 9 pm. In a nod to Sam’s colorful past, the evening will have with a speakeasy theme. Entertainment will be provided by the world-renowned Carlos Reyes Band. Come out and congratulate Steve and Brian - we promise Carlos Reyes will have you dancing in the (Main) street!

Information for this article came from the Belvedere Tiburon Landmarks Society and from Chris Morrison.

Friday Nights on Main 2015


Chamber Mixer
@ vineyard vines

September 30

Chamber Mixer @ The Courtyard at the Boardwalk Shopping Center

Wednesday, September 30
5:30 pm to 7 pm
vineyard vines
20 Main Streeet
Tiburon, CA 94920

It will be a whale of a time!

Chamber mixers are open to the public and are great way to meet your neighbors and your local merchants and business owners.

$10 members | $15 non members
Great Food & Drink | Business Card Raffle | Networking Opportunities

                  Seminar Series for Small Businesses   

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with the Mill Valley & San Rafael Chambers of Commerce to introduce a new Seminar Series for Small Business Owners.

Aimed at small business owners and professionals, the seminars will be held on the third Monday of every other month from 11 am to noon. The first seminar takes place on Monday, September 21, at 11 am, at Acqua Hotel – Bay Room - 555 Redwood Hwy, Mill Valley, CA. There will be plenty of opportunity for networking and questions. The seminars are free for members of the participating Chambers and $10 for non members.

Tiburon Wine Festival
Saturday, May 14, 2016
1 to 4 pm

One of the Bay Area’s premier wine events, the Tiburon Wine Festival pairs 60 of the finest wineries with 20 of the area’s most popular local restaurants to create a unique wine tasting experience that sells out every year. Located in downtown Tiburon, the festival boasts beautiful views of San Francisco and the Bay, live music and a spectacular silent auction with one of kind experiences and special wines from participating wineries. This is a great opportunity to try some amazing wines and the meet and learn from the winemakers themselves!

Click here for more information about the Tiburon Wine Festival.

For more information, click here Tiburon Wine Festival

SUP Tiburon!
Tiburon Waterfront Standup Paddle Board Race
July 11, 2015

 A fun race with courses suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced standup paddle boarders. The races will start and end at Sam's Anchor Café in downtown Tiburon and will proceed along the Tiburon waterfront with incredible views of San Francisco, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Come on out to enjoy incredible people, amazing views, support local business and win some great prizes!

Space is limited, REGISTER NOW!

Congratulations as well to the winner of our first ever #SUPTiburon photo contest from our first race in March: Marissa Miller for her fantastic photo capturing the sky above Angle Island as the beginner class crossed the starting line of the race.

What to Do on the Tiburon Peninsula

Tiburon's fascinating history and natural beauty also provide a variety of unique attractions. In Tiburon, the 1884 Tiburon Railroad-Ferry Depot Museum-the only dual-use railroad terminal to survive west of the Hudson River-is on the National Register of Historic Places. Old St. Hilary's, a Carpenter Gothic church set in the midst of a wildflower preserve, was built in 1888 and offers stunning views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

Ark Row, former houseboats on Tiburon Lagoon before it was filled in the 1940s, now houses restaurants and shops along upper Main Street. Tiburon Playhouse, site of the Tiburon International Film Festival, shows first-run domestic and foreign films.

And in Belvedere, the China Cabin is the restored Social Saloon of the SS China (1866), a national maritime monument with a gilded Victorian drawing room. Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society


No time? No muscles? No matter. Tiburon Uplands Nature Preserve, a tiny preserve tucked into a shady canyon along Paradise Drive, offers a very easy, 0.7 mile loop trail that's perfect for a quick hike or a leisurely wildflower walk. This little-known gem wanders through a thick forest of California bay, climbs moderately through woods with coast live oak and toyon, then segues to grassland, crossing a seasonal creek en route.

Angel Island State Park

For a short course in California history, board the Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry for the 10-minute boat trip to Ayala Cove, entry to Angel Island State Park. From here the 740-acre mountain island encompasses the history of the Golden State from its Coast Miwok beginnings to the Army presence through the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and most recently, as a NIKE missile base. Immigration's pivotal role comes to life at the Immigration Station, where thousands of mostly Chinese immigrants were detained-and some denied entrance to the United States-during a period of exclusionary immigration laws.

Directions to the Tiburon Peninsula

After exiting Highway 101, take Tiburon Boulevard (Highway 131) east until you reach the tip of the peninsula. As you approach Main Street, the downtown hub, you'll find the Boardwalk Shopping Center on the right and Point Tiburon Plaza to the left. 

Park your car at one of the several lots downtown. Tiburon is a pleasantly walkable destination. For a helpful map, pick up a self-guided historical walking tour brochure (free) from the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society in the Donohue Building on Paradise Drive or visit the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce office at 96B Main Street.


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