The Sister's Inn was a restaurant located at 208 Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo.
The restaurant was opened by sisters Annabelle Warren and Alice Harris as well as Beatrice Bonner Hindrick, in 1943.2 It was one of only a few black-owned businesses in San Luis Obispo at the time. According to a 1991 interview with James Bower, during World War II there were only a few places in San Luis Obispo where Black soldiers were welcome, including the Tower Cafe, the Sister's Inn, and the segregated Black U.S.O.5 The nearby Pacific Hotel was leased and operated by Leila Austen, a Black businesswoman.6
By 1948, Alice Harris took over sole ownership of the restaurant, which she operated until about 1964.3 Her husband James C. Bower joined her in operation as well.
The restaurant served BBQ ribs, fried chicken, and home cooked meals.
It appears that the building was torn down in approximately 1954 and may have been replaced with an office building from the Pacific Coast Lumber Company yard, by owner Henry Faulstich.9
Harris and Warren
Alice Edna Harris was born in Esperanza, Texas as Alice Edna Hughes, possibly on 20 February 1905 and grew up in Houston Texas.10 She married James C. Bowers (1917-2009) in Los Angeles. In San Luis Obispo, she belonged to the Smart Set Social Club (possibly a social club for Black women) and Springfield Baptist Church. She passed away on November 3, 1988 and she is buried in the Los Osos Valley Memorial Park.2
Annabelle Thelma Warren (1902-1980) was a sister of Alice Harris, also operated Annabelle's Cafe at 190 (or 142) Higuera Street and the Club Morocco (opened 1954- circa 1961, on south end of town near highway).4 She was born in Houston Texas, around December 13, 1902, one of nine children.12 She died 15 August 1980 in San Luis Obispo County and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles. She had a daughter, Dorothy Campbell of Los Angeles.
Annabelle Warren was active as a leader of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of the NAACP, serving as president, vice president, and membership chair.11 She was a member of the Smart Set Social Club, the Hi Hatters Club, and the Springfield Baptist Church.12 She often offered her restaurant as a meeting space for the organizations.
The Club Morocco is also referenced in the newspaper as "El Morocco club"
208 Higuera before the Sister's Inn
Prior to opening as the Sister's Inn, 208 Higuera was operated as the "O.K. Cafe." A 1938 newspaper article announcing an alcoholic beverages licenses for the cafe appears to be the first mention in the SLO newspapers of the Cafe. Named on the license were Hashiye Yoshida and Shizuko Morita Inao.7 In 1936, Mrs. H. Yoshida is mentioned in the paper as living at 208 Higuera.
In 1943, O.P. Hazard of "Jack's Place" at 208 Higuera transferred his alcohol license to Harris and Hindrick.8
208 Higuera after Sister's Inn
Business at 208 Higuera after Sister's Inn included:
- Mama Jo & Papa T (1967)
- La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant (1969- )
- Peking Palace (1978-)
- Yang's Mandarin Cuisine
- Sisters Inn Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly
5. Times Past article "Blacks, blues and blood," by Liz and Dan Krieger, San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California), January 19, 1991: 73. NewsBank: America's News – Historical and Current.
10. California Death Index for Alice Edna Bowers, via Ancestry.com
11. "87 Obispans for Chapter of NAACP" San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune, December 13, 1948, pg. 8.
12. "Annabelle Warren" Obituary, San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune, August 18, 1980, pg. 9.