Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Rossatti’s by Any Other Name…

The San Francisco Mariani family traveled to their ranch in Portola Valley via horse and buggy from the Menlo Park train station, often stopping at a pub for a refreshment on the way.[1]
This is of Stefano Mariani and his family at The Wunder.  This photo was captioned on the back in unknown hand, “Now ‘Alpine Inn’ on Alpine Road in Portola Valley. It’s about 2 ½ miles from Mr. Mariani’s former ranch. Picture was taken between April 1907 when it was bought and 1919 when Mr. Mariani took ill.”[2]

The Alpine Inn Beer Garden, as Rossatti’s is now called, opened in 1851. With the gold rush bringing more settlers to Santa Clara Valley to farm, the earlier settlers had to move on. These early settlers, Californios, went to the outer areas such as Portola Valley. The former mayor of San Jose, Felix Buelna, settled on 95 acres in 1852 and opened a “casa de tableta,” a gambling house at the corner of Alpine Road and Arastradero Road. This was right along the route from the Santa Clara Valley to the coast.[3]

The pub changed hands and names many times through the years. Stanton’s, Schenkel’s, The Wunder, Schenkel’s Picnic Park, Rossotti’s, Zotts (short for Rossotti’s), and Alpine Inn, to name a few.[4]

One of my favorite little-known facts about the Alpine Inn is that on August 27, 1976, researchers from SRI International in Menlo Park brought their mobile radio laboratory to the roadhouse, set up a computer terminal on a picnic table, and sent a long electronic report. The world’s first internet transmission. [5]   As an elementary school student, I remember having a field trip to SRI.  They had a machine that showed you questions on a television screen, such as your name and your favorite food.  You answered them by typing on a typewriter that was connected to the television.  It then printed out on paper a few sentences about you.  Debbie ate tacos for lunch.  We were amazed at the magic. And it started at Rossatti’s.

[1] Mariani family tradition, Deborah Conner Mascot, compiler, (handwritten notes, 2010; privately held by Deborah Conner Mascot, Livermore, CA); Vera Mariani memories, reported by Harry James Conner, 2010
[2] Stephen Mariani, photograph; ca 1909, digital image, privately held by Deborah Conner Mascot, Livermore, CA. Original photo held by Deborah Conner Mascot in Livermore, CA as gifted by the estate of Harry James Conner and scanned in Livermore, CA by Deborah Conner Mascot in June 2013. 
[3]Staiger, Steve, “Echoes of Alpine Inn’s Early Days,” Palo Alto Weekly (, 24 January 2001.
[4] Staiger, “Echoes of Alpine Inn's Early Days,” 24 January 2001. 
[5] Portola Valley Past and Present (, “ A New Claim to Fame for Zots,” 17 February 2013.