Hang Out With Us at the Hippest Spot in Sausalito - Part 1 of 3

Hang Out With Us at the Hippest Spot in Sausalito - Part 1 of 3

What do you look for in a great restaurant? Good food and drink sort of goes without saying, but to lift a place from being just ‘really great’ to ‘the kind of spot you’d travel out of your way to visit’ it needs something more. It’s the something more that happens when a fantastic location, cool service, a relaxed and laid back vibe and knock your socks off interiors come together in a single fantastic package. The Trident restaurant in Sausalito has all of that and more, including a rich history that dates back to the 19th century, takes in the peak of the Peace and Love era and stars a cast of the famous and talented that includes rock stars, Hollywood celebrities and non-other than Doctor Martin Luther King junior himself. If you want to hear all about the Janis Joplin table, the fact that Jerry Garcia used to run up bar tabs of $200 a time (when beers were $2 each) and who the quiet guy in the big hat hiding next to Elton John was, then pull up a chair.

You’ll be joining me and my friend Rosemary on the deck of The Trident as we chat to general manager Rick Enos, while soaking up fantastic views of San Francisco, Angel Island and Alcatraz. Listening back to the tapes of our encounter I’m struck not merely by the amount of laughing and gasping we do as Rick tells his tales, but also of the constant background hubbub – a heady mix of well-chosen music and the relaxed chatter of patrons clearly having a fantastic time.   

Rick looks and sounds like he’s been a part of The Trident story for years, and in a way he has. Although he’s only been directly managing the restaurant for a few years he’s a seasoned veteran of the Marin County food and drink scene, having originally opened the Cantina restaurant in Mill Valley and worked alongside the current owner of The Trident Bob Freeman as part of the Victoria Station restaurant franchise. Even earlier than that he was a patron of the place, both in its pre-Trident era, when he used to enjoy fine French dining with his parents, and later on, when business meetings at The Trident were prompted by, amongst other things, the chance to check out the scantily-clad hippy chicks waiting on the tables. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. We’ll let Rick explain the origins of The Trident and how it became the legend it is today:

Before we move on to the next stage of The Trident’s evolution, it’s probably worth noting that Rick’s experiences date back way before the hippy era of peace and love. As a 12 year old he was brought here by his parents to what was then a ‘fancy French restaurant’, only to find that, even for kids, the strict rules on wearing a sports jacket were enforced. He was led over to a closet and told ‘Young man, find one that fits’, which resulted in 12 year old Rick enjoying fine French cuisine in an oversized jacket boasting sleeves down to his knees.  

On another occasion he travelled down with his family on the 50ft family boat, which he lovingly refers to as a ‘stinkpotter’. To all the landlubbers out there, ‘stinkpotter’ is the word which the owners of sail boats used for power boats. The trip was intended as a fishing trip, but the poles never came out as the chance to enjoy a little more fine French food proved too tempting:

“We went into the yacht club around six o’clock for dinner and, after eating, my parents moved on to the bar. Being just fourteen, I went back out to the boat and then at around nine thirty my parents came down, now with a crowd of around twenty people and announced that they were heading to the next bar for cocktails. Now, they were in no shape to drive by this point so I had to pilot the boat, in the dark, as a 14 year old, figuring out how to dock it with the water coming at me in every direction at once.”     

All of which goes to show that wild times at The Trident are something Rick was always going to be able to take in his stride. After the fine French dining era the building was repurposed in the early 50’s as the Yacht Dock, a spit and sawdust jazz club which hosted artists like local stars Vince Guaraldi, George Duke and Flip Nunez as well as bigger national names such as Sergio Mendez, Bill Evans and Bola Sete. The transformation into Sausalito legend The Trident began when a man named Frank Werber decided to invest in the venue. Frank lived on a houseboat in Sausalito and was famous for two things. The first of these was the fact that he used in line skates to get around the place. The second was his job as manager and producer of folk-pop titans The Kingston Trio. The Kingston Trio may not be quite such household names in 2022, but for 13 consecutive years, leading up to 1962, they were the biggest selling group in America, so being their manager was a pretty big deal (if you’re wondering what happened post 1962 then just Google The Beatles – The Kingston Trio were far from being the only band to suddenly find themselves being outsold). Looking for somewhere to invest his money, Frank purchased the Yacht Dock and, between 1962 and 1964, had the interior completely remodeled.

It’s this bespoke interior, all gracefully curving wooden partitions and private banquet seating – coupled with a bar offering a view of the whole place and custom murals painted by local artist Steve Elvin – which greets anyone lucky enough to visit The Trident today. No matter what else may have changed through the years the stunning interiors, the work of renowned restaurant designer David Mitchell, have been preserved. Indeed, Mitchell himself, visiting just prior to the pandemic, was delighted by the fact that his original vision had been maintained as if in a museum, and took hundreds of photographs to celebrate the fact. In the years since The Trident he had gone on to design restaurants in places such as Hawaii and Florida, but few had resisted the temptation to sell the site on or modernize in a supposedly chic ‘minimalist’ style. The Trident, on the other hand, had remained defiantly itself, realizing that fashion is temporary but style is permanent, and it’s this kind of self-assured individuality which helped to make it, in Rick’s words, ‘San Francisco’s answer to New York’s Studio 54’.

Introducing our Two-Tone Floral Square Crochet Open Knit Cardigan-a bohemian-inspired masterpiece that seamlessly blends style and craftsmanship. This cardigan showcases a captivating two-tone color palette and features a square crochet open knit design adorned with intricate floral patterns.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.