San Francisco – EverydayInsider(TM) Trip 11

Everyday Insider! (TM) seeks to share places where tourists to San Francisco can enjoy California life with the locals and experience the sights they have dreamed of seeing in the famed City by the Bay. In this series, the chosen sights are on San Francisco’s famed 49 Mile Drive.

18. Ghirardelli Square stop is a delight! Here in this historic collection of red brick buildings, which served as a chocolate factory for a business started in 1852, you can wander a charming restaurant and shopping center with open-air plazas and waterfront views. And, across the street is landscaped Victorian Park. Read my first article here:Ghiradelli Square

Adding to it, as “Ghriddly-Diddly” (our family’s nickname for this special part of SF) has always been a fun piece of my San Francisco life, here’s a little history and be sure to stop in at the Ghiradelli factory’s own store (ice cream parlor) there!

Ghiradelli (really pronounced Jir-ah-deli) is one of San Francisco’s hallmark, original businesses which still survive. In fact, it is also America’s second-oldest chocolate company*. What an accomplishment!

Ghiradelli Square is the historic site of the Ghirardelli family’s chocolate, cocoa, mustard and box factories.

Domingo Ghirardelli was born in Italy in 1817, and he gifted San Francisco with generations of sweet memories after he began the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in 1852.

Following his apprenticeship to a celebrated European chocolatier and eager to strike out on his own, Domingo Ghirardelli shipped out to Peru in 1836, at age 19. There he established his first confectionery and met Mr. James Lick, an American shopkeeper.

With amazing serendipity, James Lick headed for San Francisco in 1847 with 600 pounds of Domingo’s chocolate and 2 weeks later, John Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill and the California gold rush began!

Lick did very well in San Francisco then, and San Francisco did well by him. Not least among his accomplishments was luring Ghirardelli north from Peru to try his luck in the gold fields.

Domingo gave gold mining a try, but found it discouraging and decided to do what he knew best – supply chocolate to the ever-increasing number of miners. We all realize that those who supply the miners make “sure” incomes, even fortunes, whereas the miners take all the risk in seeking a fortune.

After three years of hard work in the Sierra Nevada foothills, in 1852 Ghirardelli moved to San Francisco and set up his first Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Factory there.

After several moves around the City, much success and public recognition, Domingo passed away in 1894, having provided the City with a special, very sweet treasure.

Ghirardelli Square was declared an official SF city landmark in 1965 and it has been granted National Historic Register status.

Now, more than a century later, at the Square, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory and Soda Fountain continues to honor his European heritage of premium quality ingredients and the slow, time-honored methods of manufacture which Domingo Ghirardelli demanded.

When you’re in San Francisco, find your way to Ghirardelli Square at the end of the Hyde Street cable-car line and the western-most end of Fisherman’s Wharf, and then follow your nose to a real old San Francisco treat.

Ghirardelli’s Chocolate awaits your visit to Ghirardelli Square, where you can enjoy viewing some of the original manufacturing equipment in the original building (after 1964, their main factory is now across the Bay) and then, be sure to verify the excellence of their product in one of the superb offerings of the company’s soda fountain at the Square!

The soda fountain is at street level on the Larkin Street side of Ghirardelli Square, and it is wheelchair and stroller accessible (although the seating is crowded and aisle ways narrow). Restrooms are elsewhere in the Ghirardelli Square shopping center and may be reached via stairs or elevator.

If you are driving, depending on where you parked, you may be able to get your parking validated, so ask when you order.

Hours of Operation: Open Daily
Individual Restaurants and Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory hours vary.

Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Manufactory information.

For more information, please call 415-775-5500 or visit Ghirardelli Square online at Ghiradelli Square

In September, Ghiradelli will hold a Chocolate Festival in the Square.

* Baker’s Chocolate, founded in 1780 in Massachusetts is America’s oldest chocolate company, but if you have ever tasted it, you know there’s NO comparison. Ghiradelli’s is FAR superior.

Tomorrow, I’ll mention a couple more businesses at Ghiradelli Square and other stops on San Francisco’s Scenic 49 Mile Drive.


Part 1 and Series Archive: San Francisco Everyday Insider

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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