The story of Sobrato business and philanthropic activities, from the 1910s through today
Historical Timeline

Begin in the early 1900s (on the left) and pan toward the right to view descriptions of iconic Sobrato projects and key family and philanthropic milestones over the years. Scroll down and click on the Image Gallery references (located at the base of each column of dates) to reveal dozens of historical images and articles.

Ann Ainardi is born in Washington State, but returns with family to Torino, Italy at age three upon the death of her mother.

John Massimo Sobrato of Susa, Italy enlists in the American army during WWI. He is wounded in action, receives Purple Heart, is recognized by army officers for his culinary talents, and immigrates to San Francisco after the war.

1920s John works his way up in the restaurant business; opens successful establishment in North Beach during the Prohibition Era he calls Johns Rendezvous.

1930s At 39, John travels to Italy, meets and marries Ann Ainardi. They return together to San Francisco. Knowing no English, Ann attends Heald College. Ann and John have a child, John Albert, in 1939.
WWII-era food shortages prompt Sobratos to purchase 5 acres in Atherton -- they raise poultry and produce to support the restaurant. Ann and John A. work on the farm while John Sr. runs the restaurant.

Famed for its fine food, Johns Rendezvous grows and draws thousands of patrons—considered the largest and one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco during the 1940s.

1950s John Massimo Sobrato passes away in 1952. Ann sells the restaurant, reinvests proceeds in additional properties on the Peninsula, and discovers her penchant for real estate.

John A. Sobrato graduates from Santa Clara University, marries Susan, and founds Midtown Realty.

1961 In partnership with his mother Ann (Sobrato) Russo, Sobrato develops their first build-to-suit for Lockheed Corporation, a 14,000 sf tilt up at 1260 Birchwood, Sunnyvale.

1962 Sobrato convinces his friend and preferred mortgage broker for his residential clients, Carl E. Berg, to join Midtown.

1968 Sobrato, Berg, and Ann (Sobrato) Russo partner to develop tilt up buildings for the emerging electronics industry in Santa Clara County.

1969 Sobrato becomes first person named to the Million Dollar Club ($1M in residential sales) by the Palo Alto Real Estate Board.
1974 Sobrato-Berg completes first major campus development of 200,000 sf for Amdahl Corporation at 1250 East Arques, Sunnyvale.

Sobrato and Berg leave Midtown to concentrate full time on their development business, establishing headquarters in Cupertino.
1978 After 9 years and 2.3 million sf of development, Sobrato and Berg split to form separate companies. Sobrato firm renamed Sobrato Development Companies.

1979 Sobrato completes first mid-rise build-to-suit for a technology tenant: 4-story office building in Cupertino for Four Phase Systems (later acquired by Motorola).
1983 John M. Sobrato joins firm following graduation from Santa Clara University.

1985 Firm surpasses 5,000,000 square feet of commercial real estate under ownership through build-to-suit mid-rise developments for ASK Computers in Mountain View, Avantek, Advantest, Digital Equipment in Santa Clara and Verbatim division of Kodak in San Jose.
1990 Sobrato Development Company begins a diversification strategy and develops Willow Lake—its first apartment project comprising 408 units in North San Jose.

1991 Sobrato and Apple join forces to redevelop De Anza Cupertino parcels owned by TSO for 870,000 sf Apple corporate headquarters.
1995 Company sells interest in build-to-suit headquarters for Apple Computer and further diversifies asset base through investment in marketable securities. Firm reaches $1 billion in assets.

1996 The family forms the Sobrato Family Foundation and begins awarding program support and cash grants to local nonprofits.
1997 John M. Sobrato takes over day to day operations of firm.

1999 The Sobrato Family Foundation begins a three-year Organizational Capacity Grants Initiative with The Peninsula Community Foundation and the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation.
2001 Sobrato Affordable Housing Fund launches, helping fund nonprofit developers to create or preserve affordable rental and ownership properties, and homeless and transitional housing projects.

Company acquires 3,200 apartment units and diversifies further by investing in other west coast markets—from Seattle to San Diego.

Sobratos grant land valued at $9.3M in 2001 to the Morgan Hill School District for Ann Sobrato High School.

2002 The 5-building Sobrato Center for Nonprofits in Milpitas opens, providing 35 community organizations more than 100,000 square feet of free office space.
2003 The Sobrato Family Foundation adopts its "People and Places" Grantmaking Strategy.

2004 Sobrato Foundation Supporting Organization is established through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Technology Enterprise Network receives a donated building from the Sobratos valued at $9.5M for research and development.