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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Curse Of The Maltese Falcon: John's Grill Gets Its Bird Back

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2007 at 11:50 AM


Sam Spade would be a happy man today. As the Chronicle reports, the Maltese Falcon has returned to John's Grill, again. After a replica of the bird was stolen from its longtime perch at the Ellis Street restaurant in February, and a $25,000 bounty failed to bring it back, restaurateur John Konstin enlisted some local Academy of Art students to produce yet another replica.

Inspired by the classic 1930 Dashiell Hammett crime novel, the famously pilfered bird sculpture has a long history of being stolen, replicated, and stolen again. In addition to the two replicas originating from John's Grill, there are at least five more replicas floating around -- including one gold replica estimated at $8 million, that's actually worth stealing. As Chronicle writer Steven Rubenstein notes, "Getting stolen is the only thing the Maltese Falcon is truly good at."

John's Grill owes its notoriety to a single line in the original novel, in which private eye Sam Spade (immortalized by Humphrey Bogart in the 1941 film) stopped into the joint for an order of chops, baked potato and sliced tomatoes -- known today as the Sam Spade Special, and for $28.95, you too can feast on a little bit of that classic San Francisco noir. Don't forget to say something really enigmatic while you're eating, like "All we've got is that maybe you love me and maybe I love you."

-- Brian Bernbaum

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