The Moss Beach Distillery as it appeared in its early days. Exterior view from the east (above) and the ocean view dining room set for a wedding reception dinner (bottom).
During Prohibition, the San Mateo Coast was an ideal spot for rum running, bootleggers and “speakeasies,” establishments which sold illegal booze to thirsty clients.
One of the most successful speakeasies of the era was Frank’s Place on the cliffs at Moss Beach. Built by Frank Torres in 1927, Frank’s became a popular nightspot for silent film stars and politicians from the City. Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett frequented the place and used it as a setting for one of his detective stories.
The restaurant, located on the cliff, above a secluded beach was a perfect location to benefit from the clandestine activities of Canadian rum-runners. Under cover of darkness and fog, illegal whiskey was landed on the beach, dragged up a steep cliff and loaded into waiting vehicles for transport to San Francisco. Some of the booze always found its way into the garage beneath Frank’s Place. Frank Torres used his excellent political and social connections to operate a highly successful, if illegal, business. Unlike many of the other speakeasies along the coast, Frank’s Place was never raided.
With the repeal of the prohibition in 1933 Frank Torres remained in the food service business as one of the most successful restaurateurs along the San Mateo County coastside. Frank’s Place, now called the Moss Beach Distillery, still retains its spectacular view and secluded location above the ocean coves.
The Distillery also retains one of Frank’s former customers, as well. Its resident ghost, “The Blue Lady”, still haunts the premises, trying to recapture the romance and excitement of Frank’s speakeasy years. The story of The Blue Lady was documented by the TV program “Unsolved Mysteries”, and has been seen by millions of people around the world. Perhaps you will see her when you visit!
The Moss Beach Distillery is well known for its famous ghost, “The Blue Lady”, and the popular NBC TV series Unsolved Mysteries recreated a haunting version of “The Legend Of The Blue Lady” and presented it to the world.
According to the ghostly Coastside legend, some 72 years ago a beautiful, young woman met by chance, a handsome dangerous man and fell in love with him. This sophisticated ladies’ man was, say some, a piano player in the bar. The naive young woman, always dressed in blue was already married to another but her unsuspecting husband never knew of the illicit affair. She made many trips to the restaurant to be with her lover.
The beautiful lady in blue was reportedly killed while walking on the beach below the restaurant with her lover. He was assaulted, but survived. It is here at the Distillery you will find her searching for her lover.
Many strange events have been documented since that time that can not be explained such as mysterious phone calls from no one, levitating checkbooks, locked rooms from the inside without any other means of entry, women diners losing one ear ring and then several of these are found in one place weeks later, date tampering with computers, sightings by small children. We are glad she is not destructive with her pranks and continue to hear of new events that cannot be explained.
Come visit us for ocean view dining and try to catch a glimpse of the “Blue Lady”.