EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a digest of a lengthier story –The Grand Era at Pastori’s- by Dewey Livingston first published in the Historic Fax, Sept. 6, 1988. It includes excerpts from an oral history with Clementina Pastori (daughter of Carlo & Adele Pastori) made for the Fairfax Historical Society.
When Carlo Fernando Pastori, a well-respected chef and restauranteur, brought his bride to Fairfax in 1893, the place was still wild. In 1905, Pastori started a restaurant at the request of hunting friends desiring good food out in the country. The restaurant was established on the site of Lord Charles Fairfax’s former estate. Carlo Pastori’s bride was the former opera singer Adele Puereri.
The Pastori’s had four children. Their resort/restaurant, Pastori’s, became world renowned, a gathering place for the wealthy and famous.
In 1911 Carlo died and late that year Pastori’s burned down. Mrs. Pastori wouldn’t give up and promptly rebuilt. With hired chefs the place regained its stature in the country. The clientele came mostly from San Francisco.
In her oral history, Clementina Pastori describes some of the clientele who frequented Pastori’s:
“We had some very valuable, well-to-do, notable people from San Francisco…and they’d give these wonderful parties at night…..” The Hotel Rafael’s Baron von Schroeder would visit in his Tally-ho “like an English coach: four horses, a white Dalmatian dog, and a coachman all in white, with the red vest and the stovepipe hat….that’s the way Baron von Schroeder lived. [He would have] eight Dalmatians, all in the front seat with the coachman. It’s a picture that I shall never, never forget.”
On a Sunday Pastori’s might see 350 people come through. A highlight, besides the great food, were the incredible gardens taken care of by Otello, an Alsatian gardener. Thirty or so boarders, “exclusive people” stayed the summer in the resort’s dozen and a half cottages. There was a large orchard and vegetable garden, adding to the fresh food served at the restaurant.”
An evening at Pastori’s in its heyday, to hear Tina describe it, was heaven. “Luisa Tetrazzini (the great opera singer), was a dear friend of my mother’s. She came every Christmas to sing you know….”
In 1925 Madame Pastori finally gave up and sold the property to the Emporium department store who turned the place into an employee resort. In the 1940s it became the Marin Town & Country Club. Some of the buildings that once graced Pastori’s and the Town & Country Club, still stand today.