Creating A Home In The Middle Of Nowhere

Photo: Courtesy of Toni Zernick

Throughout 7 Mile House’s colorful 160-year-long history, it’s been called home by the thousands of people who’ve walked through its doors. A relentless restaurateur finds out why.

By Regina Abuyuan

In 2004, Vanessa Garcia purchased the 7 Mile House, a dark dive “in the middle of nowhere,” unaware of its history, the countless stories contained within its walls—and that, for the better part of the last 160 years, it was home to thousands of locals and travelers of all colors and persuasions.

Her first realizations that the place had any historical importance was a faded photograph of the bar, attributed to the late 19th century. Who were the people in the photo? Were their descendants still alive? And how did Albert Flynn, from whom she had bought the restaurant and who people said had worked for notorious bookmaker Ronald “The Cigar” Sacco, acquire it? Over the years, Garcia tried—unsuccessfully—to piece together fragments and information about her restaurant, to fill in unanswered gaps and mysteries about 7 Mile House, while indefatigably breathing back life into her fledgling business.

It was a fourteen-year long journey that culminates this year with 7 Mile House’s 160th anniversary and the launch of Garcia’s self-published book “See You At The 7 – Stories From the Bay Area’s Last Original Mile House.”

In this first-ever comprehensive narrative on “The 7,” as it came to be called in the 1950s, Garcia traces its roots from 1858, when it began as a toll gate carved along the bayside of San Bruno mountain; to a saloon, hotel, and wheelman’s exchange in the early 1900s; to an illegal gambling den in the years leading up to Prohibition; to a melting pot of carefree workers from Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1940s and S.E. Rykoff in the 1980s; to the location of the largest illegal sports gambling syndicate West of the Mississippi; to the family and dog-friendly restaurant, sports bar, and live music venue that it is today.

Culled from weeks’ worth of interviews, and countless hours in the archives of San Mateo, San Francisco, and Sacramento Counties and photographic collections, the finished product is a richly-illustrated, deeply personal book about how an extraordinary place has withstood the fickle tides of history while remaining true to its essence: a home to come back to when the days are just too rough—or when hearts are exploding with a joy that must be shared among people you choose to call family.

The book is co-authored by award-winning editor Regina Abuyuan, with a foreword by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte (Native Son).

The book is available for pre-order at 7milehouse.com/shop while the book launch and anniversary party will take place on Friday, January 26. Come early and pick up a to-go bowl of their famous Pork Adobo and Rice for free. The book signing and pick up party is from 3-6pm. DJs will be spinning feel good tunes from 4-8pm, followed by the party rocking LP band to close out the celebration from 9:00pm-12:30am. #SeeYouAtThe7

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