We’re Celebrating 160 Years...AGAIN!
Hi everyone! I’m sure most of you have gotten used to me announcing to everyone who cares to listen that we are writing a book! It’s going to be about—what else—our own 7 Mile House. We scoured libraries across three counties, talked to old regulars and people who made 7 Mile their home over the past four decades, and even went to different government agencies just to get more info about your favorite bar.
But okay, okay, before we start, I’d like to clear the air about two huge mistakes and misconceptions that we admit, we’ve propagated either by lack of action, or by negligence.
In our research, we’ve found out that:
1) It was not a biker bar; and
2) 7 Mile House—at least this one—was not founded in 1853.
Ok first: We were never a biker bar. All the old regulars adamantly disagree that it was a biker bar. “We had customers who rode bikes, but it was never a biker bar!” declares Joni Walker, who tended bar at 7 Mile House for eight years, sometimes alongside her mom, Anna, who married former 7 Mile House manager Al Flynn. Al Flynn was the son of Camille Stuehler, from whom I bought this place. Benny Hernandez, another bartender who worked for Camille from the ‘70s onwards, likewise says it was never a biker bar.
Passersby and non-regulars probably mistook it as a biker’s bar on account of the motorbikes line up in front. But the atmosphere of 7 Mile House was never that of a biker’s bar. The real biker’s bar was down the street, called Babes Tower Inn. “That was where the real bikers hung out,” Joni tells us.
There you have it, straight from the old-timers’ mouths. 7 Mile House is a welcome haven for all sorts of guests, but it was never a biker’s bar.
Next: I latched on the date “1853” when I came across an article in an old book-cum-thesis entitled “Early Inns and Roadhouses: A History of Hospitality in San Mateo County,” edited by Jean F. Weber for the San Mateo County Historical Association and published in 1975. (If you check out the wall in the room near our kitchen, you can see reproduction of the cover and the articles I’m referring to.)
It said that “as the stagecoach passed over the county line on El Camino Real in what is now Daly City, the first mile house it stopped at was Seven Mile.”
In my excitement and lack of due diligence, I had attributed this as our 7 Mile House. When I invited my cousin, Regina Abuyuan, an accomplished editor and journalist from Manila, to help me with the book, I finally had more time to do more research. I realized that though the 7 mile house referred to in the book was on the border of Daly City—as ours is—it was a different establishment altogether. Bayshore Boulevard was never named El Camino Road. Neither was it ever called Mission, or Church and Duncan, or Old Church, or San Mateo Road, or Old County Road—names of roads where we found also had mile houses. It was referred to as Bay Shore Road, Bayshore Highway, or San Bruno Toll Road (more on that in later entries, and in the book, so keep posted!).
I also got to study the map that was in the same book, and saw that the location of the 7 mile house the author was referring to was several miles from Brisbane! LOL. Oh boy, did I mess that one up. For this, I have to apologize. I’ve wrestled with this confession and just sweeping it under the rug, but we at 7 Mile House have always believed in being honest and truthful to our customers and to those who’ve followed us on social media and the news.
So when did our 7 Mile House get born? In 1858-1859, according to Darold Fredricks, intrepid historian and longtime San Mateo resident. Here’s the link to an old article of his that cements this fact. This is mentioned time and again in his books. Why was it so hard to spot? Because our 7 Mile House didn’t start as a pit stop, or a wheel exchange, or a pub, or a hotel, like other mile houses. It was a lowly toll booth. How cute is that?!
What does this all mean and what have I learned from these mistakes? 1) To not let my excitement get to me—although for all of you who know me personally, you’ll know that’ll be tough! I thrive on excitement! And 2) We’re probably the only restaurant in the whole world who’ll have the privilege of celebrating its 160th anniversary twice! And since we’ve gotten better at what we do, we promise you an even bigger celebration. I’m counting on you to party with us next year. See you all there!