In one form or another, Ghirardelli Square has been a functioning site of commerce for more than a century. Started by Italian chocolate maker Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli in 1849, Ghirardelli Square now occupies an entire city block with restaurants, shops, fine art works and its delicious chocolate festival each September. Visitors can sample chocolate bars at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop & Caffe, take a tour of the Square's historic buildings with tour guides garbed in authentic Victorian costumes or dine at newly opened Ana Mandara, a Vietnamese restaurant owned by actor Don Johnson.
Chocolate, Mustard and the Box Factory
Domingo Ghirardelli arrived in San Francisco much in the same fashion as other immigrants: looking for gold and opportunity. Domingo sold coffee, mustard and spices in addition creating his tasty chocolate. With his business expanding by leaps and bounds, in 1893, Ghirardelli and his two sons thought big and bought a city block of bay side city property along North Point Street. Piece by piece, the business grew. A box company was added. A stable was begun and even apartment buildings. Ghirardelli Square still boasts the old buildings that formed the core of the Ghirardelli family business for over 60 years: the Woolen Mill, The Chocolate Building, the Cocoa Building, The Mustard Building, the Clock Tower, the Wurster Building and the Power House built in 1918. The giant 25-foot by 125-foot-long, lighted "Ghirardelli" sign was built in 1923. Visible for miles at sea, the electric sign was extinguished during World War II. Ghirardelli Square was renovated in 1964 to house commercial shops and preserve its place in San Francisco history. Today, Ghirardelli Square is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Hours of Operation and Location
Ghirardelli Square isn't short on cultural and community events. The summer season will get going with a bang on the Fourth of July with day-long activities and fireworks over the Bay. On September 9, the 5th Annual Chocolate Festival will again tempt the palette with just about anything made out of chocolate. Chocolate Victorian Houses. Chocolate cheesecake. Chocolate pasta desserts. Truffles, brownies and ice cream sundaes, it's all at the Festival. In late September the San Francisco Jazz Festival will present jazz, blues, swing and international musicians in the afternoons. In November, the Holiday Season will start with the 36th annual Tree Lighting ceremony, complete with Santa Claus and a 40-foot tree.
Chocolate fun and Cool Jazz
Ghirardelli Square occupies a full city block from Polk Street to Larkin Street, between North Point and Beach Street. Summer time hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily. Shops close at 6 p.m. on Sundays. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Tour groups receive discount coupons, an allocated spot to unload buses and free lunch for bus drivers. Parking is also available at a 30-space garage near Larkin Street and Beach Street. Some restaurants and shops offer limited parking. For more information about the history, and of course the chocolate, of Ghirardelli Square, call 415-775-5500.