Plaque

Spenger’s Fish Grotto

WEST & CENTRAL

1919-1921 Fourth Street map it

CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK

designated in 2001

SPENGER’S FISH GROTTO

c. 1890

Clam chowder, baked beans and 10¢ beer—these and fish dinners drew crowds to fabled Spenger’s. It all began in the 1860s when Johann Spenger from Bavaria started fishing in the Bay. The gabled structure he built here housed his business and family. In the 1930s, son Frank opened a ground floor restaurant, gradually adding dining rooms and bars as the establishment’s popularity grew. Celebrities from Ernest Hemingway and Clark Gable to Jack Dempsey and Joe DiMaggio rubbed elbows with local families, dockworkers, Cal students, politicians, and racetrack gamblers. The Spenger family sold the business in 1999.

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project
2004


  • Clark Gable (1935), Mutiny on the Bounty trailer.

  • Ernest Hemingway (1939), photo Lloyd Arnold.

  • Joe DiMaggio (1937), Library of Congress.

  • Spenger's entry (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society