HomeTop StoriesSt. Francis Hotel, a San Francisco landmark, turns 120

St. Francis Hotel, a San Francisco landmark, turns 120

SAN FRANCISCO — Howard Mutz started working at the St. Francis hotel in San Francisco in 1972. At the time he was a busboy. From those humble beginnings he worked his way up to manager and eventually to official historian.

Today, he continues to embrace new and old memories at the iconic hotel overlooking Union Square.

“I got a nice note from Mrs. (Rosalynn) Carter when she was a guest at the hotel and staying here. She just thanked me for my hospitality and taking good care of them. We’ve had several presidents that have been here,” Mutz recalled himself.

‘Mr. Bush Sr. used to stay here and we always had to Diet Dr. Adding Pepper, because that was his favorite drink.’

The hotel was built in 1904. It survived the 1906 earthquake and is still standing over a century later.

As the hotel celebrates its 120th anniversary, Mutz reflected on a few more special memories he had while serving the hotel, including a special moment with legendary actress Bette Davis.

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“I said, ‘Mrs. Davis, welcome to St. Francis, we are so happy to have you with us. I am your room service manager. So I want to make sure I can meet all your needs.” She didn’t say anything at first. I thought, ‘Maybe I overstepped my bounds?’ Then she suddenly said: ‘Come upstairs!'”

From superstars to casual tourists, Mutz has built a lifetime of memories serving guests at St. Francis and gained a work family in the process. The pair stand next to hotel manager Clif Clark and symbolize the past and future of Westin St. Francis. Clark has been working to modernize the 32-story hotel.

Clark was particularly pleased to show off the newly renovated Windsor suite where Queen Elizabeth stayed. Clark said a fresh perspective is exactly what the hotel needs. Even as many updates are planned, some things will remain like the original 1906 ceiling moldings, still visible in one of the new restaurants – the Westin Club – expected to open later this spring.

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Clark keeps his team informed of all changes, including perhaps the biggest change of all: the landmark lobby on Powell Street.

That monumental lobby, subject of the classic phrase “Meet me under the clock” uttered by generations of San Franciscans (referring to one of the oldest master clocks on the West Coast), may be getting a makeover, but it will remain a focal point for the hotel.

Clark says that while many changes are happening that are reshaping the neighborhood, St. Francis is here to stay.

“One thing is consistent: all these iconic hotels that have been here in San Francisco for over 100 years are still here,” Clark said.

“It’s like home. This is my home,” Mutz said.

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