We recently heard that the well-known Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub in Embarcadero Cove, along the Oakland Estuary, closed on January 31. The building was an actual lighthouse marking the entrance at the north end of the Oakland Estuary. The lighthouse was built in 1890 and operated until the mid-’60s when it was replaced by an automated beacon. It was purchased and moved to its current location in 1965 and opened as Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub in 1984.
We asked sailor and Master Mariners member Ariane Paul for a few memories. “During the over 20 years that I lived in the S.F. Bay Area,” Ariane said, “I spent many an entertaining evening at Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant on the ‘Oakland Riviera.’ It all started when I met Skip and Patty Henderson around 1997 when I joined the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, and Skip invited me to come hear him and his group The Starboard Watch for their regular Thursday night chantey sing at Quinn’s. In the early years, I had to drive over from S.F. and then drag myself to work early the next morning, but then later moving to Alameda, it was a much easier jaunt.”
“Many friendships were made, we all joined in on singing the chanteys. As I also had friends in the marina below Quinn’s, I would often be there on other nights with the regulars playing liar’s dice at the Captains’ Table, which had the names of several memorable regulars who had passed engraved in little plaques around the table. Bill Jansen usually did a water taxi run with chantey regulars on his sloop the Queen of Hearts, coming across the Estuary from Alameda. Sometimes the music would continue late into the night with a second session at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon after Quinn’s had closed for the night.”
“Many of the regulars would occasionally dress like pirates when they came to hear the music. The previous owner of Quinn’s sponsored Skip and Patty’s schooner Aida in the Master Mariners regatta for many years. Sammy was one of the waiters who worked there the entire time I was going to Quinn’s; always welcoming us with a big smile, and one of our favorite people. Sadly, Skip and Patty are no longer with us, and the newer owners shut down the chantey sing during the pandemic. But the friendships forged there and the memories live on.”
Quinn’s Lighthouse was popular with sailors for years and featured a peanut-shell-covered floor, fish and chips, a busy bar, and sailors from the neighboring Embarcadero Cove Marina, the nearby West Marine, the Metropolitan Yacht Club, boat dealers and the British Marine boatyard.
Did you spend time at Quinn’s?
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