Stanley’s Steamers Becomes San Francisco’s Second Mobile Food Cart to Receive Heritage Status


A slew of San Francisco’s beloved restaurants and bars just earned San Francisco Legacy Business Program legacy status, as first reported by Hood.

Awarded to San Francisco businesses that have operated for 30 years or morethese long-running restaurants and bars are eligible to apply for the registry to receive marketing assistance, grants, and other “business support.”

Perhaps most notable, Stanley’s Steamers, the Union Square hot dog carts that give Sabrett a hard time in New York City, is only the second mobile food operation to receive this heirloom status. Annie’s hot dogs and snacks first received status in August 2020.


“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 graduate of UC Berkeley, was the first jurist 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 that he first had to 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 California’s first hot dog cart and called it Stanley’s Steamers. The hot dog cart was 3 by 4 by 5 with hot and cold water, which was a huge feat because Sabrett didn’t know how to make a hot dog stand in such a compact size, Roth told SFGATE.

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 records, the city that once gave Roth plenty of trouble getting started has finally recognized his accomplishments and named SF Carts and Concessions a mobile catering legacy business – just 48 years later. .

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 not currently open for business. They are working with San Francisco to reopen as soon as possible.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 28 at 12 p.m. to correctly name Stanley’s Steamers as the second mobile food vendor to receive legacy status, as well as to revise their current availability.

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