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Port Costa: Famed restaurateur Juanita Musson was larger than life

By Chris Treadway
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 11:28 pm in Contra Costa County.



Juanita Musson pictured in a 1975 edition of the Port Costa newsletter<br /> The Unnatural Enquirer, holding one of the Pre-Credulous Era Port Costa findings created by Dr. Gladstone, aka artist Clayton Bailey. Photo by Lewis Stewart.

Juanita Musson pictured in a 1975 edition of the Port Costa newsletter "The Unnatural Enquirer," holding one of the "Pre-Credulous Era Port Costa findings" created by Dr. Gladstone (aka artist Clayton Bailey. Photo by Lewis Stewart.

Bay Area restaurateur Juanita Musson, who died last month at 87, was a larger-than-life figure in many ways. From her girth to the size of the portions she served to the profanity she also dished out.

Musson could be rude and crude, but the food was good and she had a sizeble following who followed to a succession of Juanita’s Gallery restaurants (11, she said at one point) that she operated from the 1950s to the early ’80s.

She started in Sausalito, moved to Sonoma, Boyes Hot Springs and in the mid-1970s ended up running The Warehouse in Port Costa, where some longtime residents have mixed feelings about her stay.

Lewis Stewart, a mainstay of the Port Costa Conservation Society, took the photo above. He worked as a waiter and bartender at The Warehouse during her time there and his memories are less than fond, though he acknowledges that her stay did bring a lot of people and commerce to town.

Sanitary conditions were not a priority for Musson, who took in stray and often off-beat animals wherever she operated.

Renowned Port Costa artist Clayton Bailey noted that “I was the guy who ran the “Wonders of the World Museum” upstairs from Juanita’s restaurant when she was here,” adding “We claimed that the Giant Bugs we had on display in our museum came from Juanita’s kitchen down below.”

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  • John Tysell

    I knew Juanita at Boyes Hot Springs in the late 1960′s… she would be sprawled on a bed in her night gown and would greet everyone as they walked down in hall. I She gave up the bed routine at the Warehouse but remained a truly unique character.

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