The Gas Kitchen Grill Room (or Gas Kitchen Restaurant) was a downtown restaurant from 1898 until 1909, run by John J. Marcovich and Antone “Tony” Clecak. It made the headlines in 1907 when Marcovich was shot and killed by Frank Smith, a waiter who had been fired earlier for stealing. Clecak sold the restaurant in 1909. 5
About 1898, Marcovich and Clecak opened the restaurant at 1062 Washington between 11th and 12th Streets. 1 In 1900, they moved the restaurant to 515-517 13th Street between Washington and Clay. 2 Besides occasional mentions for things like shooting at an attempted burglar in 1901 3 or news of Marcovich's personal life,4 things were relatively uneventful until 1907.
Slaying John Marcovich
On the night of April 19th, 1907, John Marcovich was overseeing the running of the restaurant. He had married his second wife, Jane Broon (Marcovich) just a few months before, and they were seated at Marcovich's customary table, the first on the left side of the room. Shortly before 11PM, George Neece and his wife came into the restaurant and were seated. Marcovich left his table to greet them, when Frank Smith entered the restaurant.
Smith had been a waiter at the restaurant for some months. The exact details are a bit jumbled, but he was accused of stealing and been fired earlier that day, either by Marcovich or his partner Clecak. Regardless, Smith felt his reputation had been ruined, and returned to the restaurant to seek revenge. He opened fire on Marcovich, emptying the contents of the revolver and hitting him 5 times. He said nothing, but backed out of the restaurant, lay the pistol on the sidewalk, and headed down 13th Street.
Jane rushed to his side and piteously called to him. Marcovich struggled to turn onto his side, and said a faint "Good bye, Jane." It was clear that he had been gravely wounded. The police were called, a car was summoned, and Marcovich was rushed to the receiving hospital, but it was too late. He breathed his last, and he was declared dead by Dr. Irwin.
The cause of all this mayhem was probably $2.50, the price of a bottle of wine which Smith was accused of stealing. But now Smith faced murder charges as well as theft.
Finding Frank Smith
Links and References
- John Marcovich (1859-1907): Restaurateur gunned down by employee Lives of the Dead blog
- An Expensive Bottle of Wine (1907) Dark Corners of History blog
- On His Breast He Wears A Star Oakland Tribune December 24, 1898
- ad Oakland Tribune September 20, 1900
- Marcovich Takes A Shot At Burglar Oakland Tribune March 7, 1901
- Jealousy Ends In A Divorce Oakland Tribune September 24, 1906
- Auction Sale of "Gas Kitchen" Restaurant, Etc. Oakland Tribune January 11, 1909
- Murdered In Restaurant By The Side of His Bride Oakland Tribune April 20, 1907 (p2)