Sacramento State Library Exhibit


Frank's 806 Chinese menu.  (circa 1940s?)
"Frank's 806" Chinese menu. (circa 1940s)
Opened on 806 L Street in Sacramento, formerly a speakeasy and restaurant, Frank Fat’s eponymous restaurant served Chinese and American food, touting an exotic and peaceful atmosphere and special dishes. The Great Depression was in full swing, and eating out was generally considered a luxury. But Fat's quickly became a hit with the political crowd, especially the state attorney general and future governor, Earl Warren, who regularly lunched there until he was appointed Supreme Court chief justice in 1953. The restaurant had a favored booth considered “preferred seating” to have the best view of those entering. Nicknamed “Judge Garibaldi Booth” after that big-time lobbyist, it was also known as the “power booth.”

Frank Fat next to Doris and Robert Matsui.
Frank Fat next to Doris and Robert Matsui.
Frank Fat named the eatery after himself, advertising "something different . . . " "Chinese and American dinners served in lovely, peaceful Oriental atmosphere by charming, beautiful and courteous Chinese waitresses. . . . Dinners, full course with a large choice of entrees, 50 cents up. Lunches 25 cents. Try Frank's special steak . . . they're delicious." (George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2009)

“The rich and powerful came, and so did all of Sacramento and beyond. Fat’s became legendary as California’s “Third House” where landmark bills were drafted in back booths, and tort reform arose out of a famous “napkin deal”. (