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After 7 Decades And Countless Bowls Of Clam Chowder, Anthony’s Fish Grotto Closes

Devoted customers of Anthony's Fish Grotto line up for one last meal before t...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: Devoted customers of Anthony's Fish Grotto line up for one last meal before the restaurant closes its doors, Jan. 30, 2017.

One of the most beloved seafood restaurants along the downtown San Diego waterfront is serving up its last bowl of clam chowder on Tuesday. Anthony’s Fish Grotto served nearly 22 million people in its 70 years along the Embarcadero.

One of the most beloved seafood restaurants along the downtown San Diego waterfront is serving up its last bowl of clam chowder on Tuesday.

Catherine “Mama'' Ghio first opened Anthony’s as a 16-seat diner in 1946 at the old downtown ferry landing. Minimum wage at that time was 40 cents, and World War II had just ended. The restaurant moved to its current location on North Harbor Drive in 1965.

Anthony’s is closing its doors because the San Diego Unified Port District voted for a replacement restaurant in the prime location as part of an effort to remake the Embarcadero.

For Anthony’s devoted customers, it’s more than just an eatery. It’s a place where milestones have been celebrated, and memories have been made.

Don and Barbra Conley were at the restaurant on Monday in their matching red outfits to mark the 50th anniversary of their first date, which took place at Anthony’s.

“And it worked,” chuckled Barbra Conley. “We’re still together.”

Don Conley chimed in with a smile, “I impressed her. We had almost the same menu we had 50 years ago — steak and lobster, but they added shrimp this time. We even sat in the same booth."

Photo by Susan Murphy

Anthony's Fish Grotto has served nearly 22 million people in its 70 years along the Embarcadero, Jan. 30, 2017.

Natalie Swanson, a lifelong patron who has lived in San Diego since the 40s, brought her daughter and son-in-law to one last lunch on Monday at the downtown location.

“After I graduated from high school, we celebrated here," Swanson said. "And after I graduated from college we came here. That’s why we had to come today.”

“Great food, great memories,” said Paul Seramur, 97, who lined up in his wheelchair a half hour before the restaurant opened. “We used to come here all the time.”

“I’ve been coming to Anthony’s restaurant since the 70s,” said Bob Simons. “We would come here with my grandfather so it was a special treat.”

Craig Ghio, co-owner of Anthony’s and grandson of “Mamma Ghio,” started working at the restaurant when he was a teenager.

“It’s really a bittersweet moment for the entire family,” Ghio said. “How could you not leave with gratitude?” he said, looking at the packed dining room.

Ghio said in addition to generations of memories, the restaurant is also rich in history.

“This corner table right behind you has seen the presence of four governors and five presidents,” Ghio said. “And one of the moving moments is that we hosted the crew of the Pueblo that was captured in North Korea when they all finally got back to the U.S.”

Anthony’s will be demolished to make way for a new platform and two-story restaurant complex, which will include four restaurants: Brigantine, Miguel's Cocina, Ketch Grill & Taps and Portside Gelato & Coffee.

Anthony’s La Mesa location will remain open.

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