Restaurants with Cash Pinned to the Walls

Planning a trip or looking for a local restaurant that will also fulfill your love of coins and currency? There is a tradition to stapling dollar bills on the ceiling of bars. Sometimes, with the name and date you were there, and who you were with; other times with stories, wishes, or drawings.

Many say this tradition has roots in the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush brought over 300,000 transplants to California and with the influx of people came the decline of resources and supplies. Many wasted all their money hoping for gold and never were able to make it home, thus staying, and making California their new home. The struggle for jobs, land, food, and other mainstays left people wondering how they could get home and encouraged new transplants to stow money in a safe place, like on the ceiling of a bar. They would write their names on their “Get Home” money and staple it to the ceiling of the local bar. If they did not find gold, they could come back to the bar, still having enough money to get back.

Another theory of how the tradition began is with sailors. Sailors we’re said to have tacked money to the bars before they left for sea. This is so when they returned, no matter what occurred on the trip, they would at the very least have enough money for a drink.

 Regardless of the history of the tradition, it has become a common way for eclectic restaurants and bars to stand out and provide a unique atmosphere for their customers. We have rounded up a list of restaurants across the United States (well, mostly in Florida) that  are famous for using cash as decoration!

McGuire’s Irish Pub | Destin, Florida

destin-moneyMcGuire’s Irish Pub first opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood pub in a shopping center. In 1982 McGuire’s moved to its current location; Pensacola’s original 1927 Old Firehouse. Inside the pub you’ll find a turn-of-the-century, New York Irish Saloon themed 615-seat restaurant.

They are celebrated for their atmosphere boasting more than One Million signed dollar bills hanging from the ceilings and walls of the Pub. In 1996, a second location, McGuire’s Irish Pub of Destin opened on beautiful Destin Harbor with the same great food and live Irish entertainment.


Willie T’s | Key West, Florida

CaptureWillie T’s Restaurant & Bar offers some of the best home cooking in Key West Florida. Offering everything from savory steaks to mouth-watering hamburgers. Coupled with large 10-foot screen TV’s for the latest sports game enjoyment and a variety of alcoholic beverages to choose from.

The ‘World Famous’ Willie T’s offers the perfect respite in the middle of all the action of Duval Street.They are known for our constant LIVE MUSIC, daily drink specials, delicious food and friendly service. Visit for a festive hangout for tropical drinks & Florida-inspired American eats in a mostly outdoor setting.


Siesta Key Oyster Bar | Sarasota, Florida

siSiesta Key Oyster Bar (or as the locals call it “SKOB”) is a hangout with a laid back, beachy atmosphere that will get you right into the Island Spirit. When you’re at SKOB you feel right at home, like you’re hanging out with good friends on your back patio (although chances are the ceiling of your patio is not covered in dollar bills).

Of course there are burgers and wings – they just happen to be award winning wings and some of the most delicious U.S.D.A. Prime mouthwatering burgers you can get anywhere

From Raw Oysters and Fresh Fish to Crab Legs and Crab Cakes – there is something for everyone on the menu. And with over 21 beers on tap along with Domestic, Imports, and specialty bottled beer – you will not go away thirsty!


Cabbage Key | Pineland, Florida

fishLocated in the Old House at the Cabbage Key resort, the open-air restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year. The main room of the restaurant is nestled among live cuban laurels dripping with moss. Previous visitors have taped thousands of one-dollar bills to every surface. You can ask your server for a black marker and tape to add yours to the collection.

The front room is the old porch with a view of the marina and sound. Look around at antique fishing gear, classic Cabbage Key photographs and replicas of tarpon, snook and other game fish.

Known by many as “the bar with all the money on the walls”, the Cabbage Key bar has been serving up drinks to boaters for over 60 years. With active fire places, original hardwood floors and Cypress walls, the bar and the formal dining room make up the other two dining locations.


Cantina Captiva | Captiva Island, Florida
33885471_1851288058498067_474686223709896704_nThe final Florida based restaurant, Cantina Captiva is located within the Captiva Island Inn. Enjoy a spicy and unique atmosphere while savoring the fine Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.

A customer from TripAdvisor reviewed the Cantina as ‘Mexican in the Tropics’:

Cantina Captiva is our must have lunch while in Captiva or Sanibel. This last visit, we four ladies had great Margaritas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas for lunch. Everything was excellent including our server. The prices are reasonable and the outside seating is very nice. Definitely worth trying!


The Soup Cellar | Leavenworth, Washington

21719_550901808257157_2067690350_nThe Soup Cellar was established in 1988. The current owners took ownership in 1994 and ever since have been striving to create an experience that offers the highest quality of service, food, and atmosphere

A TripAdvisor reviewer states:

What a fantastic experience! It is located in the cellar and the decor is like a bavarian pub. They offer a fantastic salad bar and a soup bar along with the many different brats and other german foods–great saurkraut. The people are very friendly and the service was great! The dinners have great portions on them–so enjoy! They have a big selection of various beers to try also. Very clean place–even the bathrooms!


Bill’s Gyro Souvlaki | Atlantic City, New Jersey

11140265_10208091246744969_3071804008456576227_nThis restaurant is the perfect place to stop for gyro while you stroll along the Atlantic City boardwalk. TripAdvisor user reviews it as such:

This is quite the place. The atmosphere is best described as very Jersey but it’s worth it. We all got the gyro sandwich was fantastic. The spinach pie definitely left something to be desired but I also ate it after eating the whole sandwich. The onion rings were pretty good and the fries were decent, but the gyro sandwich is what made me give them such a good rating. There is seating (a lot of places on the boardwalk only have tiny areas or no seating at all. We had a party of 6 and figured 2 of us would sit at the bar but they immediately pulled another table up to seat us together. The staff was pleasant, competent, and efficient. I would definitely go back!


Tortilla Flat Superstition Saloon | Tortilla Flat, Arizona

SONY DSCThis saloon is located in Tortilla Flat, an authentic remnant of an old west town, nestled in the midst of the Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountain Range. Tortilla Flat started out as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to take away this historic stop along the Historic Apache Trail.

A visit to Tortilla Flat isn’t complete without a stop in the Superstition Restaurant & Saloon. The decor alone will send you back in time, from the Saddle Bar Stools, to the walls of dollar bills from around the world. The food is incredible; the website says they serves the Biggest burgers, hottest chili, and coldest drinks everyday.


Dollar Bill Bar | Oatman, Arizona

oatIf you’re looking for an ice cold beer on tap while enjoying a simple Americana bar with a twist, look no further than the Dollar Bill Bar. Patrons are encouraged to sign a dollar bill and then hang it on the wall, ceiling, or really anywhere they deem appropriate. They tout to have over $100,000 worth of bills covering their walls.


The Hideout Saloon | Mariposa, California

348sThe Hideout Saloon is a saloon/pub in the Gold Rush Historic Downtown District of Mariposa. You can find 150 yr old dry stack rock wall throughout main bar, original bar wood floor repaired always with reclaimed local barn wood, and first growth Doug Fir original wood floors in secondary rooms.

The Saloon is open every day into the wee morning hours for all. With live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with special performances as scheduled Sunday through Tuesday. Karaoke Wednesday nights. Open Mic always available for performance and jamming any time scheduled entertainment is not performing.

California Gold


The story of the California Gold Rush is one of the best known in American history. It’s quintessential to the ideals of taking advantage of opportunity and working hard to climb the economic ladder. Of course, most of those who rushed to the California gold mines went broke instead of striking it rich, but hundreds of tons of gold were uncovered over the course of the rush. What happened to it as it entered the economy?
GoldNuggetUSGOVThe Gold Rush changed San Francisco almost overnight. From a little town of 850 in 1848, it grew to over 20,000 by 1850. (Native American populations, however, dropped drastically: from 150,000 in 1845, to fewer than 30,000 by 1870.) On Liberty Street Economics, James Narron and Don Morgan write, “Carrying a small amount of gold in a glass vial, Brannan strode up and down Montgomery Street in San Francisco, then just a sleepy hamlet, extolling the great wealth that could be readily plucked from the foothills outside Sacramento. A kind of madness seized the 850 residents of the city, and as the San Francisco Chronicle noted on May 29, ‘the field is left half plowed, the house half built, and everything neglected but the manufacture of shovels and pickaxes.’”



800px-SanFranciscoharbor1851c_sharpThe influx of people as well as the high demand for mining supplies, drove the cost of goods up to exorbitant heights (in fact, shop owners were more likely to profit off the rush than the miners.) Only 2 years into the Gold Rush, it was cheaper to send laundry to Hawaii for cleaning than to have it done locally. Miners had to extract several ounces of gold a day simply to keep themselves supplied with food and equipment. One in twelve died, and many left. Eyewitness accounts talk about the harbor clogged with ships left to rot because the passengers and crew had all gone to the gold mines. A mercury rush a few years earlier combined with a common way of using mercury to mine gold had left many miners with brain damage and in too poor of health to leave. Despite the dire situation, individuals and mining corporations continued to pull gold out of the streams and mountains. The United States had moved from a bimetallic standard to the gold standard in 1834, and the the influx of gold from California acted like “a monetary easing by a central bank, with more gold chasing the same amount of goods and services.”


Some gold left the United States via immigrants, particularly workers from China. Some Chinese workers melted down their gold and shaped it into common household items, like pans, darkening them with soot to disguise them on the return journey. Anti-immigrant sentiment was high, and since fortune seekers from many nations poured into a city that was not prepared for them, tensions raged. The Foreign Miners Tax of 1850 called for a monthly tax of $20 on every foreign miner, a price many could not pay. (The Chinese Exclusion Act was put into place in 1882, halting immigration from China and preventing immigrants from becoming citizens. Chinese Americans were not allowed to become citizens until 1943.)


5_Dollars,_Norris,_Gregg_&_Norris,_California,_1849_-_National_Museum_of_American_History_-_DSC00220As people and gold continued to flow into California, it became a center of national and global attention, achieving statehood only 2 years after the first gold was found. As the wealth continued to flow from the mountains, the need for a local Mint was obvious. The private company Norris, Gregg & Norris produced the first coins from California gold, but shut down within a year.



John Little Moffat moved to San Francisco from New York and began an assay business, as well as producing gold bars. However, the bars did not circulate, and he realized the need for coinage. They follow the pattern of the official gold coins, but also bear the legend SMV (Standard Mint Value.) Other minting companies followed suit, but Moffat was easily the most successful. These early California gold coins are rarities, and bring excellent prices when they go up for auction. (Some of the first gold from California actually ended up in Utah, carried by Mormon troops, and was used to create currency for the Utah territory. These are also rare and bring high prices.)


In 1850, the Treasury Secretary set up an assaying authority with the power to buy gold. Seeing the success of Moffat’s company, the federal authorities brought him into the operation. A skilled watchmaker from New York, Augustus Humbert, was also brought on board and was largely responsible for the shape of the first octagonal California gold coins. Ursula Kampmann writes in Coins Weekly that “These ingots and the ‘ordinary’ US coins could circulate simultaneously, but the former were no official means of payment. The problem of these specimens was that they had too great a weight. Compared with the official 10 and 20 $ dollar coins below weight, they contained much more gold – which was a nuisance to the banks who couldn’t get rid of their own currency anymore. Consequently, they took revenge by exchanging the ingot with the too big intrinsic value with 3 % discount only. That, in turn, made the ingots become much less popular; Moffat & Co. was forced to produce their old 10 and 20 $ dollar coins instead again, this time on behalf of the US government.”


765px-Photograph_of_several_San_Francisco_Mint_employees_near_the_top_section_of_the_Corless_Engine_on_the_first_floor._-_NARA_-_296572Moffat departed his company in 1852, and the firm was established as an official assay office of the United States. However, it closed late in 1853, when the new San Francisco Mint was expected to begin producing coins a few months later. Unfortunately, the mineral shipments needed to create alloys didn’t arrive in time for the Mint to keep to its original schedule, and opened in April of 1854. Just over $4 million face value in gold coins were minted during its first year of operation, making 1854 S mint gold coins rare and highly desirable to collectors and numismatists.


Over time, northern California settled down and became much like any other part of the States, with its own industries and exports. But the legend of the California Gold Rush was cemented into national memory, and the state still enjoys the golden glow of the promise of a better life.


The Luck of the Irish

From the Irish potato famine to years of invasion, colonization, exploitation and violent religious conflict, it would seem that the Irish have anything but good luck.  Where then did the phrase “luck of the Irish” originate? – Perhaps with the hope of stumbling across a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow; Or in finding serendipity in the rarity of a four-leaf clover?  Though the origin of the phrase is decidedly unresolved, the “Luck of the Irish” is surely varnished in dark green irony.

The phrase became popularized in America with immigration to the American West in the second half of the 19th century.  Mining fortunes of Irish immigrants such as James Fair, James Flood, John Mackay and William O’Brien known as the “Silver Kings” led to the association of the Irish with good luck.  However, the meaning of this luck is clearly pejorative with the implication that only by sheer luck, as apposed to intelligence, could these “Know-Nothings” succeed.

The Currency of the California Gold Rush

You’ve heard of the California Gold Rush. One day, miners found gold in the town called Sutter’s Mill, sparking a rush from all over the world toward fortune seeking in the state of California. About 300,000 fortune-seekers made the journey.

You can imagine the pandemonium this would cause. And methods of commerce were shaky. They usually used Silver Reales or Escudos from Spanish America for exchanges, but that currency could not keep up with daily needs.Minners01 (1)

This led to original methods of payment. The gold found during mining didn’t always come in nuggets of gold, and fine gold dust was at least worth something. People would pay in actual pinches of gold dust for general stores or saloons. As you can imagine, dust does not offer the most secure method of payment.

A more solid means of currency was needed. Some mints had made $20 gold pieces, but much smaller denominations were needed.


We have some of our own California gold coins. Interested in owning one of your own? Go here!

Private minters began to make their own small gold pieces. (And when we say small, we mean small. These things are tiny.) They were called fractionals because they were worth a small fraction of these larger denominations. These coins were literally worth their weight in gold. The first, privately made coins were made between 1852-1856.

The fractionals circulated quickly from the need for currency, and soon wore down from all that use.

But the San Francisco Mint began its own full production in 1856, and the availability of more trustworthy pieces put these privately-made coins less appealing.1871califracObverse

Henry Finnegrass, the Chief of Operations for the U.S. Secret Service in San Francisco, claimed that these California gold coins were in competition with the U.S. Mint and confiscated any pieces made after 1882.

As collectibles, these coins are rare and hard to come by. While the California gold rush only gave success to a select few people, these gold fractionals have lasted as pieces of that hectic time in history.