September 24, 2004 > Rose City and the International Kitchen
Rose City and the International Kitchen
by Philip Holmes with assistance by B.J. Bunting
The old road north from Mission San Jose branched near the south bank of Alameda Creek. The west branch followed the creek down to the village called Centerville and on to the landings at Alvarado and Union City. Edward Barnes squatted on the lands along the south bank of Alameda Creek and sold land parcels to other pioneers. The branch road became known as the road from Centerville to Niles.
The 1878 Atlas of Alameda County shows the land north of the road was owned by Daniel Sanborn, Barclay Clough, and Joseph Nichols. William Tyson and Thomas Bedard owned the land on the south side. The farm and residence of Daniel Sanborn was pictured in the Atlas. Many of the nearby farmers were fruit growers. The road from Mission San Jose - now Overacker Avenue - and the rails of the Central Pacific Railway were on the eastern border of Sanborn's land. A dangerous railroad crossing located at this location was known as Thane's crossing or Thane's Corner. Requests for warning bells were denied by the railroad in 1916.
Helen Clough married William Ford and they operated the Clough and Sanborn properties. They developed the gravel pits along Alameda Creek and sold some property along Centerville road. Tony Avilla's dad bought four acres and sold the front acre to Frank "Fat" Rose.
Frank developed several enterprises along the road including sacked wood. He became interested in pottery and bought several truck loads which he sold from a small building at the present Mowry Boulevard and Cherry Lane. Famous pottery included Bauer, Vernon Kilns and Gladding McBean. Business prospered so much that the Rose City Pottery location became known as Rose City. The building that included a garage, restaurant and living quarters was called the "Rose City Garage and Service Station." Harley and Lois Justus and their children lived here and operated the business for Frank in 1928; their living quarters were located in the back. Tony Avilla worked for Rose unpacking pottery in the back room; then worked for Querners after they bought the property in 1939.
Rose had a wrecking yard and tire business across the street near where he lived and a Mobiloil gas station at what is now, the corner of Mowry and Mission Boulevard. He also had a second hand store at this location. The Centerville Road was renamed Fremont Boulevard.
The Querner family purchased the Rose City property in 1939 and developed a gift shop and restaurant which became known as the International Kitchen. Grand Opening ads in 1940 noted that they had renovated the former Helen's Place and operated the restaurant in conjunction with Rose City Pottery. They advertised "Unique Cuisine" with dinners priced 50 cents, 85 cents, and $1.00. The restaurant became so popular and famous that the Querners had to remodel and enlarge it in 1946.
They installed modern air conditioning, new kitchen equipment and tables, and increased the seating capacity from 90 to 280 persons. In spite of the increased capacity there were so many people trying to eat there at peak times that many had to wait outside. Their reputation was so good that the California Nursery gave their customers special cards to introduce them to "Fremont's Most Distinctive Dining Room." Arthur Marcantelli and John Clase opened the C & M Service Station on Fremont Avenue across from the International Kitchen and beside the Friendly Tavern in 1946.
B.J. Bunting washed dishes at the kitchen and was there when the building burned in 1960. He protected the remains of the International Kitchen after the fire as a reserve deputy. Harry Querner gave him a nice set of dishes for his help.
Seraphine Caldeira and Frank Souza took over the Mobiloil gas station at the corner of the Mission San Jose and the Mowry intersection in 1946. The local editor noted that "the setting with its background of palm trees was one of the most beautiful in California." Frank P. George delivered General Petroleum products to the station from the distribution plant at Alvarado. Caldeira and Souza were usually called Pike and Cy by their friends, so that station was called Pike and Cy's. Frank Barner also opened a curio shop at the intersection on Thanksgiving Day in 1946.
The California Department of Public Works rerouted Mission Boulevard around the town of Niles in 1936-37. Construction of the 430 foot-long Mission Boulevard Bridge across Alameda Creek and the two nearby railroad subways changed this intersection area and eliminated the dangerous Thane's crossing. Workers at the Shinn ranch put a foot bridge across Alameda Creek in 1942 so apricot cutters from Niles could reach the Shinn property without going around through Rose City.
The Fremont Frontier Motel printed a brochure about 1965 that advertised the motel as "The Best Place to Stay in Fremont." Nearby locations on Peralta Boulevard designated on their maps were the Fremont Ranch Restaurant, the International Kitchen, and the Steak Block restaurant. This cluster of eating places caused the area to be touted as "Fremont's Restaurant Row." The area from Thane to Cherry was rezoned for more commercial use in 1964. The present construction activities to alleviate traffic congestion here will continue the changes.
The International Kitchen, Rose City Pottery, the associated gas station, and the Knotty Pine are gone, replaced by other businesses, houses, subways, and new roads. Frank Rose's house survives across the busy intersection from the Frontier Motel, bravely facing the traffic on Mission Boulevard.