It’s quite fitting that the Alhambra building now inhabited by Martins West was a theatre and saloon when it first opened in 1896. At the grand opening event, hundreds attended a production of Men and Women, “the greatest American play ever written.” Tickets for the evening’s entertainment, which included a grand ball following the show, were an average of 75 cents.
Throughout the next few decades, the Alhambra continued to carve its niche as a preeminent center for art and entertainment. Wyatt Earp, the legendary outlaw and deputy, would frequent the saloon and watch his wife Josie sing from the rafters at the adjoining upstairs theatre.
When the Prohibition Act forced the saloon to close its doors in 1920, a great deal of renovation was done and the space served as a meeting place for various groups including a branch of the fraternal Freemasonry organization. During the Prohibition Era, Redwood City was one of the only cities in the Bay Area to fully adopt the Anti-Saloon League’s mandates: not a single speakeasy existed within the city confines. The Alhambra continued to serve as an alcohol-free meeting place until the 1950s.
The next known owner of the Alhambra space took over in 1998 with the intent to refurbish the building and open it yet again as a theatre and music venue. In 2001, when the construction team was out to lunch, the building’s roof caught fire and the project came to a halt.
We chose to keep the smoke marks from the fire’s flames untouched on the brick walls near the back ceiling at Martins West. You’ll also find the virtually untouched, original columns from the turn-of-the-century building down the center of our dining room. In this way we hope to give our guests a sense of the rich history of the building.
As a modern public house, we at Martins West couldn’t be happier to continue the tradition of merriment, meeting, food and drink the Alhambra started in 1896.