Scoma’s — A San Francisco Original
In 1965 when brothers Al and Joe Scoma heard about a small coffee shop on the Wharf that was for sale, little did they know they were on the road to creating a landmark restaurant. The brothers bought the tiny, six-stool coffee shop on Pier 47 that served local fishermen breakfast and burgers and began the long and ultimately successful process of turning the hidden local hang-out into one of the nation’s highest grossing independent restaurants.
Al Scoma always believed in working hard, enjoying life and being the best in the business. He attributed his success as a restaurateur to the variety of career paths he took before his restaurant days.
Mr. Scoma’s professional career began after his release from the Navy following World War II. He worked for a San Francisco Bay Area meat company where he learned about food handling criteria and excelled in sales. He continually worked to meet the needs of restaurant operators while surpassing state health and quality standards.
In the early 1950s he began a five-year stint as an inspector with the San Francisco Health Department, giving him an opportunity to work with and learn more about restaurants and bars. Mr. Scoma became an expert in successful restaurant management that starts with proper building construction and consistent maintenance.
His restaurant operating experience began in the late 1950s as one of the six original partners in Castagnola’s Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. Although he enjoyed the restaurant business, Mr. Scoma discovered the difficulty of making efficient, expedient decisions with six partners.
Switching careers, the 1960s found Mr. Scoma as the top auto salesman in the country at a Pontiac dealership where he ultimately became manager. During his very successful car dealership experience he discovered the importance customer service and satisfaction.
With his 1965 return to the restaurant business, Mr. Scoma found an outlet for all the business lessons he had learned. Using their mother’s recipe collection, the Scoma brothers’ humble café became so popular that it is now one of the highest volume independent restaurants in the United States. The six stool counter is now a 350-seat restaurant, serving more than 450,000 locals and visitors annually. Scoma’s owns its own fish receiving station, which permits public viewing of wild salmon and local Dungeness crab as it’s off-loaded from boats and prepared for the kitchen.
“We let our food speak for itself,” said Al. Newsweek Magazine recognized Scoma’s for having one of the best clam chowder recipes in the country (Jan. 10, 2005). In mid-2005, Scoma’s celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Believing in family as much as a successful business, Mr. Scoma enlisted daughters, nieces, nephews and, his son-in-law Tom Creedon (who is now President) to build his business. Running the business solo since the early 1970s, Mr. Scoma died in June 2007 of natural causes. He is survived by his three daughters and his wife Cheryl. His name and restaurant continue to be recognized worldwide.
The restaurant is actively involved with organizations such as the Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association, Fisherman’s Wharf Advisory Board, Environmental Quality Advisory Committee, California Restaurant Association, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and City College of San Francisco’s Culinary Arts & Hospitality Advisory Board.
Scoma’s is also deeply embedded in the San Francisco community, committed to charitable support for Bay Area police and fire departments and the Salesian Boys’ & Girls’ Club in North Beach, Mr. Scoma’s favorite charity.
Truly a family affair rich with San Francisco tradition, Scoma’s continually seeks to provide a memorable San Francisco dining experience on the waterfront. In addition to the Fisherman’s Wharf location at Pier 47, Scoma’s also operates a restaurant in Sausalito by the same name.
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