Foster's : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Does anyone have any information about the Fosters Cafeteria chain (i.e. first owner, last owner, disposition of property, etc.).

-- Mike Lowther (, June 06, 2000


Not exactly, but I have a photo of my Grandmother holding a certificate, along with 6 other ladies. The certificate reads:

"Summer 1960 Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Service to the Discriminating Citizens of the Bay Area and for having been chosen by them as a FINALIST in the Foster Service Girl of the Season Contest."

My Grandmother was 48 at the time. She appears to be one of the youngest "girls".

-- Woody LaBounty (, June 28, 2000.

I know Fosters was still going in the early seventies..because I did commercials for them...they were famous for their chicken pies which could be found in local market freezer sections in the distinctive pale blue box...if memory serves me....I think there was a Fosters around the corner from the big E on Market street.

-- Kathy Gori (, November 13, 2000.

Foster's went out of business c. 1980 as a result of business setbacks suffered by its New York City-based owner, Bickford's, which met a similiar fate.

The simultaneous decline of American inner cities in the 1960s and 1970s coupled with changes in American dining tastes (from fast food to ethnic to vegetarian cuisines) sounded the death knell for urban cafeteria dining, and Foster's/Bickford's went the way of Horn & Hardart, et al.

The once thriving restaurant combine lives on , reduced to a pancake house-style chain in the NE US.'s/IndexBickford's1922-1959.html is useful in reminiscing about Foster's it includes some pictures & a list of locations. Regards, Alan V. Karr

-- Alan V. Karr (, June 14, 2002.

i can't tell you much about the questions you have, but i thought it might be helpful for you to know that, besides the many foster's cafeterias in s.f., there was (i was led to understand) another, a kind of flagship cafeteria under the same ownership. it had cloth napkins and other niceties that the foster's didn't have. it was a ground floor and mezzanine a few doors up from the cablecar turntable at powell and market. it was quite nice for a cafeteria. the decor included three large mosaic murals by benjamino bufano. this cafeteria was named moar's, and i was told that it was named after the owner of it and the various foster's cafeterias. this is only hearsay, but i thought it might be a clue for you in your search. good luck, and best regards.

-- harold la vigne (, August 06, 2002.

I think the cafeteria with the Bufanos in it was Manning's, down at the foot of Powell Street (but it's been gone so long, I could be imagining). There was a Foster's at 20 Geary Street, close to that area. There was a lot of discussion about where the murals were going to go once the restaurant closed. Iím having a beast of a time tracking down their current location. The Bufano Society of the Arts (415-383-6620, PO Box 1342, Mill Valley, CA 94942) and is also connected with The Mansions Hotel in San Francisco (

If you want to see something gorgeous, take a look at this photo of the Mannings at 891 Market thatís in the SFPLís historical photograph collection:

-- Rosa (, August 09, 2002.

i believe the cafeteria i mentioned above was indeed Moar's. the mannings chain was different from the foster's chain. there were foster's all over s.f.(and throughout the bay area, if not farther, i believe. there were cafeterias at Geary and Van Ness, Market and Van Ness, Polk and ?McAllister?, Geary, near ?Hyde?. I can recall having been to about twenty different ones, but i can't recall their exact locations after all these years. the foster's at Polk and Sutter was under the Hotel Wentley (made famous by John Wieners'HOTEL WENTLEY POEMS (c. 1958)and one of the places members of the beat generation congregated (c.1950's thru 1968).

-- harold la vigne (, August 29, 2002.

My father worked as a chef at a Foster's Restuarant in the 1950's. He has since passed away. I am curious if this Foster's Cafeteria chain is what everyone on this site is describing as the Foster's Cafeteria Chain. Please advise. Thank you.

-- Tina Knox O'Driscoll (, August 12, 2004.

Hi. I'm not sure. The chain as I remember it was comprised of true cafeteria style outlets. There were chef's in the backround behind the counters preparing the dishes. I'm still, to this day, trying to find the recipe for their Oatmeal cookies. The best on this planet.

-- Mike Lowther (, August 12, 2004.

The cafeteria you refer to is indeed Moar's, and there were three magnificent mosaic murals created by Beniamino Bufano, who was my son's godfather. Bufano created those murals in exchange for a promise that he would be able to eat free there for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, the cafeteria was sold to Foster's before Benny died in 1970. I wish I knew what happened to the murals. There was talk of moving them somewhere else, but I think it turned out to be too costly for Benny's afficianados. I have an awful feeling they were torn down and destroyed when the cafeteria was remodeled.

-- Rhoda Curtis (, December 14, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ