Iconic Pinole Businesses
Bank of Pinole (2361 San Pablo Avenue). The 19th century-built Pinole Hotel stood on the south side of San Pablo Avenue between Tennent and Valley avenues. It burned down in 1914. In 1915, Edward M. Downer, mayor of Pinole, opened the newly constructed Bank of Pinole on this site. He later expanded his business by buying Mechanics Bank.
Bank of Pinole (2361 San Pablo Avenue)
Antlers Tavern (2284 San Pablo Avenue). This building on the northwest corner of San Pablo and Tennent avenues was Lehman’s, a small department store, in 1900, before it began its long history as a bar. It was the Swenson and Lewis Saloon in the early 20th century. Antlers was owned by Frank Lunghi from 1950-1976. Lunghi took over the Trovatore Café, across the street, from his parents, Joe and Maria, but closed it when he bought Antlers. The Torretta family has owned Antlers since the late Al Torretta bought it from Lunghi.
Antlers Tavern (2284 San Pablo Avenue)
Square Deal Garage (2500 San Pablo Avenue). This is one of Pinole’s most recognized landmark businesses. In 1913, Will Gerrish’s butcher shop was on this site. Gerrish, Hokie Silva, and Molly Rose ran the shop. Later, the Smith and Hemleb meat market was here. Bert Hall first opened his garage in the Fraser blacksmith shop on San Pablo Avenue, across the street from Val Pera’s Gondola restaurant (later the Club Alibi). Bert opened the Square Deal Garage in 1928.
Bert’s son, Chet, ran it for many years. Kevin Osman, a local businessman, bought the garage in 1981. Kevin’s sons, Brian (service manager) and Brandon (shop manager) run the business.
The Bear Claw. This Pinole landmark on the north side of San Pablo Avenue has had numerous lives serving Pinole’s hungry and thirsty citizens. In 1945-46 it was known as Harry Skow’s bar. Gladys Skow, Harry’s daughter, and her husband, Tommy Prather, took over the business, and called it Tommy’s Cafe. People gathered for coffee, conversation, and local news and gossip. It was in the same building that housed the Manuel Marcos Saloon at the turn of the 20th century. Mike and Terri Stott, two of Pinole’s most civic-minded and generous merchants, opened The Bear Claw Bakery in this building in 1982.