(In this photo you can see the sign for “Dan’s Place which was located on the hill [look for the big windows] overlooking Moss Beach.
Remembering Dan’s Place
Story by Elaine M. Teixeira, with Lena Parks***
The Bortolotti family moved to Moss Beach from Orland, California (approx. 1924) where they owned a turkey farm. Because Dan suffered from asthma, they left to live on the coastside.
Dan and Kina the family first lived in a house, up on the hill, across from the Moss Beach Grocery Store.
Later, they moved into the service station, along side of the grocery store. From there, (in approx. 1930-31) they moved into the structure which became known as Dan’s Place. Previously, in the building, there was a church and a dance hall.
Dan and Kina opened a restaurant and bar, with Kina doing most of the cooking. Dan tended bar and his brother John helped out. Dan’s sister also came from Italy with her son Domenic, but she soon returned to Italy; her son later opened up the hotel and restaurant in Half Moon Bay known as Domenic’s, and which now is known as the San Benito House.
In time, Lena Park’s older sister, Laura, was helping with the cooking, Lena (Parks) waited on tables, and their brother, Barney, helped tend bar.
There were approx. 11 rooms upstairs, which members of the family occupied, though Dan and Kina, also lived in a home, on the room north of the restaurant facing the post office. Later, Mrs. Tyler, a school teacher at the Moss Beach grammar school, lived in the house, and then, Barney and his family. On the other side of the building, below Dan’s, is another house which at that time, faced the grammar school, and was owned by Dan and rented out.
They also opened a grocery store in the corner of the building, near the grammar school, which later, during WWII, became a hamburger shop, run by Lena and husband Kenny Parks, a service man stationed in the area.
On the north side of the building stood an auto repair shop with gas pumps, operated by Tony Claudino, and then Tony Bettencourt. There was also a barber shop on the side. Dan’s Place was enlarged and blue windows were installed to cut down on the sun’s glare.
At some point, Dan had a motel built on the cliff, near the ocean, by the Catholic Church; the motel could be seen from the coast road. It was a popular spot for some of the customers at the restaurant; fishermen wanting to stay overnight, and travelers passing through. Both Laura and Lena had to make up beds and clean the rooms after school. Uncle John would tend to the motel business, and later, a sign was posted to tell customers to sign in at the restaurant.
(Dan’s Motel overlooked the Pacific in Moss Beach; it was an example of the classic 1940s-50s drive- in motel)
In 1947, the parents were in a very bad auto accident, and Dan died a day later in the hospital; Kina was severely injured and never fully recovered. The two older children, Laura and Barney married and their spouses (Laura married Frank Bertolacci ,and Barney married Frank’s sister, Josephine) worked in the business. Frank Bertolacci tended bar, and his sister, Josephine (Tye,) worked as a waitress and cooked in the kitchen.
Laura tended bar sometimes. She was one of the few women who could tend bar. In those days, no woman could tend bar unless her name appeared on the official licenses and if she had an interest in the business.
At some point they hired a cook; eventually, Barney and Josephine were the only ones left running the business. When they retired, their three daughters, Donna Lou, Janette and Debbie ran the restaurant. Their Mom, Josephine, continued to help in the kitchen and Donna’s spouse tended bar until the building was sold. Barney’s son, Danny,opened an auto shop built down near Hwy One, which he ran. Later it was sold and is currently where the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Dept. houses their vehicles.
***Lena Parks is the youngest child of Dan & Kina Bortolotti who owned Dan’s Place in Moss Beach. She was 2 yrs old when they moved to Moss Beach and she atttended the grade school in Moss Beach and graduated from the high school in Half Moon Bay. She married Kenny Parks, a service man, on the coastside during WWII and they raised three daughters. They lived with their family in Redwood City, she is now widowed and lives in the San Jose area.
***Elaine Martini Teixeira says: I worked when Tony and I first married, for about five years or more, until I started a family, lost first child, so returned to work, then was off for about 15 yrs raising the two children. In the early part of marriage, I worked in HMB for a couple of different government, farm organizations, PMA, Soil Conservation and Farm Advisors. I also worked for the County of San Mateo in Recorder’s office and School Dept. When I returned to work after raising family, worked for a laundry rental company and then the County of SM for 22 yrs.
(Photo: Elaine M Teixeira, wearing white, with sister Loretta).
To read Elaine’s other stories, click here