Stanley’s Steamers becomes San Francisco’s first mobile food cart to receive heirloom status

A slew of San Francisco’s beloved restaurants and bars have just been granted legacy status by the San Francisco Legacy Business Program, as Hoodline first reported.

Awarded to San Francisco businesses that have been in operation for 30 years or more, these long-established restaurants and bars are eligible to apply for the registry to receive marketing assistance, grants, and other “business aid.”

Perhaps most notable, Stanley’s Steamers, the Union Square hot dog carts that give New York’s Sabrett a run for its money, is the first mobile food operation to receive this heirloom status.


“What an incredible honor to be recognized for creating 48 years of fun and safe food experiences in San Francisco’s public domain,” said Stanley Roth, president of San Francisco Carts and Concessions, Inc., which operated many mobile food. businesses over the years, including Stanley’s Steamers hot dogs.

Roth, a UC Berkeley graduate, claims he was the first street food vendor in San Francisco. In 1974, to pay for his law studies, he started selling pretzels on the street from a cart. At the time, the law required a street food vendor to have a “peddler’s license”, issued by the San Francisco Police Department. However, SFPD told Roth he must first obtain a “sidewalk occupancy permit” from the Department of Public Works.

He was perplexed when the DPW allegedly told him that only the SFPD could issue such a permit. After getting caught up in what he called a “bureaucratic catch 22”, Roth decided to sell his pretzels under the new street performers law – he called his pretzels “Baked Sculptures of Farine and Water” and jokingly had a sign that said “Pretzel earrings $25, or make your own, 25 cents each.

After numerous ongoing legal battles with the city of San Francisco over his peddler’s license, including being endorsed in the San Francisco Chronicle by noted columnist Herb Caen, Roth amended his peddler’s license to include hot -dogs. In 1983 he designed and built what he says was California’s first hot dog cart and called it Stanley’s Steamers.

A line forms for hot dogs at Stanley’s Steamers hot dog cart in Union Square.

Stan Roth/Yelp

In June 2021, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin nominated Roth and his company for legacy status. After a year of compiling the necessary historical documents, the city that once gave Roth plenty of trouble getting started has finally recognized his accomplishments and named SF Carts and Concessions the first mobile catering legacy business – just 48 years older. late.

In addition to Stanley’s Steamers, newest additions to the Legacy Business program include: Buena Vista Cafe and Far East Cafe, both of which have been in business for over 100 years and are known for their world famous Irish coffeehouses and antique decor made of thick wood, respectively; Buddha Lounge and Helmand Palace, one a Chinatown dive bar with a legendary neon sign and the other one of San Francisco’s few Afghan restaurants, both over 50 years old; Meanwhile, Sai’s Vietnamese and Valentino Markets are also joining the register, both serving the Bay Area for more than 35 years.

Stanley’s Steamers is located on the 200 block of Geary Street (across from Macy’s). Subject to weather conditions and seasonal schedules. Additional locations: Post and Stockton, Grant and Geary, Post and Kearny, Market and Montgomery. Also locations along Fisherman’s Wharf.