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The Waterfront Bar and Grill

Drink up these fun facts about Little Italy's historic watering hole.

By Christina Orlovsky Page

The Waterfront Bar and Grill

The Waterfront Bar & Grill

The Waterfront Bar & Grill | photo by Paul Body

Turning 80

Opened by Chaffee Grant and Clair Blakley shortly after the repeal of Prohibition, the bar changed ownership several times over the past 80 years, until Nancy Nichols became the sole owner in the 1980s. Nichols still co-owns the bar with grandsons Chad Cline and

Jason Nichols

Beer and More Beer

Customers drive the Waterfront’s beer selection—to the tune of roughly 4,000 pints served per week.

One for the Books

Established on December 5, 1933, “San Diego’s Oldest Tavern” holds the oldest full liquor license in the city.

Menu Favorites

The Waterfront is famous for its juicy burgers, but the popcorn is also a hit, with about a case a day popped.

Naming the Bar

The establishment got its name because at the time it was the closest bar/restaurant to the water.

The Waterfront Bar and Grill

Wall of photos

Wall of photos at the Waterfront | photo by Paul Body

Design by Customer

When Nichols took over the bar, the walls were bare. One fisherman friend brought his photo in and asked her to hang it—then another, and another. And so the collection started. There’s also a photo of Nichols and her parents sipping a drink from back in the day: Scotch and milk

Got Ghosts?

There may be a few, at least according to the bar’s night cleaning crew.

Breakfast and a Beer

Night owls and early birds alike can get their fill of both food and drink, thanks to opening hours from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Waterfront Bar and Grill

Howard Bass’s ashes

Howard Bass Memoriam | photo by Paul Body

In Memoriam

Regular customer Howard Bass so revered the bar where he drank his daily Merlot that he asked to have his ashes placed there when he died. His wish was granted: Look on the north side wall, behind the bar, next to a bottle of wine.

Who’s Who

From judges and lawyers to fishermen and oil workers, an eclectic crowd has always frequented the Waterfront. Few fights occur today, but back in the ’40s, one Navy sailor lost his—ahem— family jewels in a fight over a fisherman’s wife.

Famous Faces

Among the celebrity clients that have bellied up to the bar is actor Bill Murray

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San Diego, CA