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Read how Jim Smith helped reunite a number of historical documents with the descendents of The Poodle Dog Restaurant.

The restaurant moved to its Bush Street location in 1868, now officially taking the Old Poodle Dog name. The dog, Ami died two days after moving from the original location. Whether caused by old age or a broken heart, the Poodle Dog lost its namesake. The new restaurant made of fireproof pressed brick towered six stories with a basement below.

The lavish first floor dining room of the new facility offered public accommodations where a man could safely take his wife and daughter to dine in elegance; a decor in a style torn between the Rococo and Louis XIV styles. Priced at around a dollar, they offered the highest quality cuisine in the city. The second floor hosted private dining rooms suitable for a meeting and dinner with a member or two of the opposite sex; said to be risque not particularly terrible. Accessed via a side door leading to an elevator, the third, fourth and fifth floors, one found cozy rooms for private assignations only whispered about. Each suite included an elegant bed, rich Axminster carpets from Europe, a bathroom attached and its own telephone. The elevator operator became a very wealthy man on the tips provided "for service." Propriety, and later bribes, kept the upstairs activities from developing into public scandals touching many of the city's elite. The sixth floor main banquet room hosted opulent parties of up to 250 guests with a hidden alcove for the orchestra. A smaller banquet room was available for "presentations, college fraternities, lodges, anniversary dinners, etc." By the 1890 s, the Poodle Dog acquired Chef Calixte Lalanne as their chef de quisine. Lalanne's artistry elevated the restaurant to the height of French haute cuisine. Throughout the Nineteenth century and through changes in ownership and management plus multiple incarnations, the Poodle Dog maintained its position as the foremost French restaurant in town.

French restaurants and most likely the Poodle Dog participated in the graft of Mayor Schmitz and Boss Abe Reef as mentioned previously. Bribes formed the basis for the businesses' ability to keep their upper rooms in operation and scandal free. All part of doing business in San Francisco, people knew but people looked away. A lady might dine with her husband downstairs on Sunday knowing full well he may have been upstairs on Saturday night. Private dining rooms remained a San Francisco fixture through its history.

The earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed the original Poodle Dog and the Old Poodle Dog. The Old Poodle Dog reopened on Eddy Street in Mid-1906 under J.B. Pon and Calixte Lalanne. As the city's reconstruction continued, the demand for upscale restaurants grew with it.

In 1908, the owners of the Poodle Dog, the Old Poodle Dog, John Bergez Restaurant and Frank's Rotisserie merged their businesses, opening Bush Street and Claude Lane under Lalanne with partners Jean B. Pon, Jean Bergez, Louis Coutard and Camille Mailhebeau. The restaurant now boasted five floors; the top floor offered a ballroom. A side door mimicked the earlier establishment with a birdcage elevator that took the men and their "companions" upstairs. They brought the elegance of the Nineties back to San Francisco as the Bergez-Franks Old Poodle Dog. The cuisine reflected the skills of some of the finest French chefs in the city but also included innovations unique to San Francisco. The original Louis Dressing originated in the Bergez-Franks Old Poodle Dog circa 1908; a product of the skills of Louis Coutard.

It should be noted that Mr. Lalanne, Mr. Coutard and Mr. Pon were brothers in law. They married three sisters who were born in France, their maiden name also Lalanne, a common name in France.

Surviving the great earthquake, the Old Poodle Dog unfortunately failed to hold up under prohibition. The restaurant closed it doors the night of April 15, 1922. Lalanne stated that, "great cuisine cannot be served without wine." He did, however open a new establishment opposite the Palace Hotel on New Montgomery though little is written of it. The menu included sparkling apple and grape juices from Motts and the old Cresta Blanca Winery (now Wente) in Livermore among others.

Lalanne opened the Ritz French Restaurant at 65 Post Street in San Francisco in 1933. Prohibition had ended and the wine flowed anew. Calixte Lalanne died in 1942 and his son Louis promptly renamed his restaurant the Ritz Old Poodle Dog to honor his father s first love. Eight years later, the San Francisco News recognized the senior Lalanne as a "chef without peer."

The restaurant continued the traditions of old San Francisco, a lively business not without its conflicts. Lalanne s son Cal related an incident his father, Louis told him, about a time the second cook picked up the fry cook who was small and sat him on the stove. Another time his mother got between them (one of them had a cleaver in his hand). She said, "If you re going to hit anyone, hit me." The two just couldn't get along. Louis died in 1968 and his wife took over management of the restaurant. It quietly closed following her death in 1980. For the couple, the Old Poodle Dog was a labor of love.

Cal Lalanne fondly related, "My favorite remembrance was that on every Sunday night, after the guests were gone and the restaurant closed, they would have a perfect Manhattan and the two of them would sit down and have dinner and the closing waiter and the maitre 'd would wait on them. The staff loved them."

In June 1984, Cal Lalanne and his wife, Wendy reopened the Old Poodle Dog in the Glass-roofed Crocker Galleria at 1 Montgomery Street at Post. It rated the maximum number of stars by the food writers of the Chronicle and was written up in Gourmet Magazine. Maintaining a successful CPA practice with staff and admittedly not being in the restaurant business, Lalanne hired a successful chef, recommended by Mondavi. His new chef decided to also assume the role of manager.

They remained open for a year and a half. The lunch business was fine, but the night business began falling off. The overhead created by the chef proved overwhelming. The type of food served was labor intensive; strictly nouvelle cuisine, right out the Chefs of France at the Mondavi Winery where the chef previously taught. Lalanne recommended changes but the chef/manager couldn't agree on implementation. Determining he couldn't go on with the overwhelming overhead, Lalanne decided to close it. San Francisco s finest restaurant tradition ended.

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