Sunday, June 6, 2010

SS - Grison's Steak & Chop House, San Francisco

Bob Grison opened Grison's Steak House & Chop House at Van Ness and Pacific Avenues in 1936. A few years later he opened Grison's Chicken House across the street. The Chicken House closed in the 1970s, and the Steak House closed in 1984.

Both Grison's restaurants used wooden menu postcards for a number of years. The menu on the left is from 1939/40 and has the words "Come to the Fair!" in the top left corner of the back (The Golden Gate International Exposition was held in San Francisco in 1939 and 1940) . The menu on the right is probably from the 1950s. If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see that there a many changes in the menu. On comparable items, the prices of most items on the right are about three times those on the left.

Both postcards have the quote about customer satisfaction by Walter Winchell, a famous columnist, on the back at the bottom of the left side. "One dissatisfied customer can do your restaurant more harm than the praises of a thousand others can undo. So, if a man has a tough steak, don't give him a sharp knife, give him another steak."

Smorgasbord Sundays (SS)
restaurant and food postcards


  1. I love old menus. It's interesting to look at the prices, but it's also amazing to see how what we eat has changed over the years. Mutton chop kidney, anyone? Mostly, food was more predictable then. I used to live three blocks from this location.

  2. I wonder what the prices were in 1984. they would still look very reasonable to us.

  3. I am listing a couple of vintage wooden postcard menus from Grison's in my Etsy shop today if you're interested. they are different than the one you posted on your blog.

    Happy Postcarding!

  4. Grison's was a San Francisco landmark. My prep school history teacher was a regular, and I was treated to a celebratory dinner there when I graduated. I still remember the waiter making the Caesar salad to our order right at the table, and leaving the bowl. Cattleman's in Petaluma, though not as classy, is in the same ilk.

    It wasn't just about the food. The whole Grison's venue was subdued, relaxed, and austere. You felt liek you were doing more than just dining there. This is something few restaurateurs "get" today, that the atmosphere, service, and experience are more important than the menu or prices. The food can be re-prepared, the surroundings cannot. I've narrowed my dining in my new home to the few where I've received outstanding service (things like replaced and comped entrees that were't prepared properly, free desserts, personal attention by managers; this last one has been catching on with many chains), and I rarely both with others.

    I learned this standard at places like Grison's. Happy to hear that someone took over the location and continued the tradition.


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