The history of The Van’s is a colorful tale that dates back to around the turn of the century. Built in 1915, it originally was erected to house part of the Japanese Exhibition at the Panama Pacific International Exposition held in the San Francisco Marina District in commemoration of the opening of the Panama Canal. At the close of the exposition, all but two of the buildings were dismantled — the Palace of Fine Arts, which remains standing in San Francisco, and the Japanese Tea house.
Land Baron E.D. Swift, purchased the Tea house in 1915 and barged the entire structure down the Bay to Belmont, California, where the house served for three years as a private residence for Swift’s two daughters. In 1921, teams of horses and mules pulled the structure up a steep dirt trail to its present location nestled in the hills overlooking the Bay Area.
In 1933 during Prohibition, Elsie Smuck bought the house and under the name “Elsie’s,” offered bootlegged whiskey to a select group of friends and acquaintances. The speakeasy was also rumored to have slot machines and dice games operating on the first floor, and the use of the third floor was quite suspect as well.
A trolley that ran from San Francisco to Redwood City was the popular means of transportation to and from the secluded hideaway. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Elsie’s became a legalized saloon; however, stories of gambling and harlotry lingered.
Upon her death in 1945, Elsie left the establishment to a prominent Burlingame citizen, and the saloon was turned into an Italian restaurant. Business partners Gene Sowle and Ivan Sawyer bought the restaurant in 1947 and renamed it “Gevan’s.” Ten years later they dissolved their partnership and Sawyer, who retained ownership of the restaurant, shortened the name to “The Van’s.”
Present host, Loring De Martini, acquired The Van’s in October 1973 and has since built a reputation for serving great food in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The unique menu and dedicated service combined with the spectacular view from San Jose to San Francisco has established The Van’s as a popular meeting place for local Peninsulans, celebrities and visitors from all over.
|Tuesday – Friday 11:30 AM – 2:45 PM|
|Tuesday – Thursday 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Friday 3:00 PM – 11:00PM
|Saturday 4:00 PM – 10:00PM|
|Sunday 4:00 PM – 10:00PM|
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2 Jumbo Tamales Bay Oysters capped with a mixture of seasoned Spinach & Hollandaise$ 12
Our exclusive traditions for over 70 years Fresh jumbo scallops hand-formed into patties and pan-fried in butter. Served with our daily potatoes or rice & vegetables. One patty: $22, Two Patties: $38 This special is subject to availability.$ 22
Thank You for considering The Van's for your party! Banquet Facilities are Available for Lunch and Dinner Functions. Having a party at The Van's is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3! All you have to do is: 1) Make your reservation. 2) Put down a deposit to hold the room and fix your price. 3) Chose your menu. Once you've chosen a menu, just relax, the only other thing you have to do is let us know how many will be coming. There's no need to take orders ahead of time, each place setting will have a copy of your personalized menu and when your guests are seated, a server will take their order. Menu When you inquire about having a party at The Van's, you will receive copies of sample menus with varied per person pricing. You may select one of these or, if you prefer, you may pick items from them and create your own menu. If you decide to customize your menu, you can contact Loring for pricing information. For the vegetarians in your group, Linguini Primavera - seasonal vegetables sautéed with garlic and olive oil and combined with linguini pasta - is always available upon request (even if it is not one of your menu items). Full Bar Service is available for "Hosted" or "No Host" functions, no guarantee required. Room Options The Van's has panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay Area from all private rooms. Five possibilities are available for private parties: The Expo Room, which is located on the main floor, has a capacity of 50 people and is handicap accessible. The Tea Room, which is located on the main floor, has a capacity of 36 people and is handicap accessible. The Garden Room, which is located on the main floor, has a capacity of 24 people and is handicap accessible. The "Step Above," located on the second floor, has a maximum capacity of 125 people or can be divided into two private areas ¾ Step Above North, capacity 75, and Step Above South, capacity 40. Accessories Dance floor available on request with an additional charge. A two week notice is preferred. Deposit (Non-Refundable) Rooms are reserved on a first come, first served basis. A deposit is required to confirm your reservation space & guarantee your price. Prices and menu items are subject to change until your deposit is accepted. Reservations & Guarantee** It will be required that you guarantee a minimum number of guests when you submit your deposit to hold the space. The deposit is a guarantee that you will have the minimum number of people you declared or the deposit will become a room charge, which is not part of the food & beverage cost incurred. You will need to confirm your number of guests one week or five business days before your function, but you will be responsible for your original "minimum guarantee" unless your confirmation exceeds that number. In the case of your confirmation number exceeding your original guaranteed number of guests, the confirmation number becomes your "minimum guarantee" number.$ 20
Robert McAdamsMay 10, 2019 at 6:15 pm
Great location for the bay view. We came here to celebrate. Try out Van’s signature dishes such as Jumbo scallops, Prime Ribs. Love the ambience.Helpful Review