Clio Logo
Literary Tour of San Francisco
Item 3 of 8

Vesuvio Cafe was established in 1948 and is located next to City Lights Bookstore. Together with City Lights Bookstore, one of the walls of the cafe forms Jack Kerouac Alley. Kerouac often frequented the cafe along with many of his fellow beat writers, leading to the cafe becoming a historical site as well as a popular tourist destination. Today, the cafe is still incredibly popular, and those who visit are greeted with a plethora of memorabilia from the Beat Generation.


  • Front view of Vesuvio
  • Inside view of the cafe
  • Another inside view of the cafe
  • Henri Lenoir in front of the original Vesuvio Cafe in the early 1960s

Vesuvio Cafe was founded in 1948 by Henri Lenoir, an art enthusiast whose goal was to create an artful, bohemian atmosphere for likeminded souls to gather. The cafe opened in an Italian Renaissance styled building that was constructed during the first World War. The cafe's interior featured a plethora of art and colorful decor which appealed to numerous patrons, the most notable of which were Beat Generation writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg. Other notable patrons include Bob Dylan and Francis Ford Coppola. 

The bar/cafe is located along Columbus Avenue next to City Lights Bookstore, a neighborhood establishment opened by Lawrence Ferlinghetti who was also one of the Vesuvio Cafe's famous patrons. The bookstore and cafe are located at the famous Jack Kerouac Alley which honors the Beat writer with inscriptions and murals honoring the literary and cultural history of both San Francisco and its diverse community.  

In an effort to preserve and emphasize the importance of the Beat writers and the literary culture which led to the cafe's status as a cultural and historical landmark, cafe owners Janet and Christopher Fein have incorporated the bar's history into its decor. The interior of the Vesuvio Cafe is filled with paintings and historical photos in addition to a plethora of memorabilia commemorating its connection to the Beat Generation.

Walser, Lauren. San Francisco's Vesuvio Cafe. National Trust for Historic Preservation. February 26, 2015. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://savingplaces.org/stories/historic-bars-san-franciscos-vesuvio-cafe#.W_Tog-hKjIV.