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Enrico's

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 10 December 2009 in Documentary & Street and Portfolio.

That place with the fanciful awnings across the street is part of an iconic American Institution. In the 1950's and 60's - Enrico Banducci was the premier nightclub operator in San Francisco. Enrico was a short fellow with a round face, broad smile, trim mustache, and dancing eyes - who always wore a black beret.

His nightclub was The Hungry I - which he purchase for $800 in 1958 with money he borrowed. Enrico was a natural at discovering new talent and the place became a huge success. Among the entertainers who found their careers launched by Enrico were Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Bill Cosby, Jonathan Winters, The Smothers Brothers, and Woody Allen, who in 1961 - opened for a 19-year-old singer from New York City named Barbra Streisand.

Enrico Banducci had never heard Streisand sing - and hired her based solely on the moxie she showed in her agent's office, offering her, " 175 bucks a week - 200, if she can sing, too!" On opening night - Woody Allen was so nervous that the audience booed him off the stage - not allowing him to finish his routine.

Enrico Banducci also introduced countless folk singers and groups including The Limelighters and The Kingston Trio.

The cafe in this photograph was Enrico's last stand after the area's nightclubs evaporated. It is still in operation. Enrico past away two years ago at the age of 85. He was quite a character.

Larger view with map link: http://www.pbase.com/joyoflight/image/120089976/original

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California / www.JoyOfLight.com
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Michael from Shell Village, United Kingdom

Another excellent street shot, your angle is superb capturing two opposing directions.

10 Dec 2009 5:16am

Michael Skorulski from Cigel, Slovakia

A wonderful historic image, Stephen. I enjoyed the write-up too. And my, aren't those streets steep!!

10 Dec 2009 5:29am

Mathilde Collot from Fontainebleau, France

Superb urban composition! the V leads us to heaven! Also these colors suranées giving a real authenticity to the picture!

10 Dec 2009 6:00am

Alun from cheshire, United Kingdom

Wow, thats a street and a half, look how steep it is, great shot

10 Dec 2009 6:14am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Great document, Stephen. It's a really historical place that I hope you SFers will preserve! :)
Thanks very much for the informations and shot.

10 Dec 2009 6:28am

Luke Wiley from Spokane Washington, United States

An interesting part of town!

10 Dec 2009 7:44am

yz from Hungary

love how you've used the road painting for the composition

10 Dec 2009 8:17am

Marcie from United States

Wonderful street scene. There is something very timeless about this!!

10 Dec 2009 1:33pm

dj.tigersprout from New York City, United States

i love your use of the street line 'markers' to pull the viewer into the shot... :)

10 Dec 2009 2:42pm

ordinaryimages from Kentucky Bluegrass, United States

I've never seen it from this perfect angle nor as deserted! Humorous note: Shoot Enrico's - Check - owing to the abstract check mark of the stripping...one could wonder around the City checking them off : ]

10 Dec 2009 4:37pm

dabbler from Minneapolis, United States

Cleverly framed image - it well emphasizes the characteristic of the city and leads our eyes its entirety - superb capture!!!

10 Dec 2009 6:50pm

Chris from South Jersey, United States

interesting history here - one wouldn't know by looking at the buildings.....love that steep street!!!

10 Dec 2009 7:52pm

willow from Chelsea, United States

I like all the lines - of the pavement and buildings and rooftops, etc. It's like a workout for the eyes! Sounds like an interesting place to visit, too.

10 Dec 2009 9:07pm

Monte Stevens from Westerville, United States

Very interesting story to go along with the image. It has been educational stopping by again today. Thanks!

10 Dec 2009 10:14pm

Susan from Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

Very cool shot.... I especially like seeing the way those buildings go up that side street....how they build on angles like that, I'll never understand!!! And thanks for the info on Enrico....sounds like quite the interesting character......imagine that, Barbra, "if she could sing">......

10 Dec 2009 10:49pm

@Susan: I knew Enrico and the last of his five wives, Sue - as well as her dogs. I could hear him in that meeting with Streisand's agent. He made decisions just that quick. If he suddenly had the compulsion to take some friends out to dinner - he would walk over to the cash register and pull out a fist load of twenties. If anyone was watching he'd shrug saying, "hey, it's my money," and he'd treat everyone and then leave the whole staff of whatever restaurant an enormous tip. He made a mountain of money and spent it all. At the end, in poor health - he was living with his daughter in South San Francisco - a small city down by the airport.

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Very nice image and a great bit of history! Thanks for the information! The street rises up so fast on the right hand side it is amazing!

11 Dec 2009 2:09am

Bob from New Jersey, United States

great photo and fascinating story.

11 Dec 2009 2:37am

jpdm from Pignans, France

what's your lens ? 14mm ? perfect compo with use of the lines on the floor and street raising on the right, 5*

11 Dec 2009 8:02am

@jpdm: Thanks for the visit and kind words. This was shot using a Canon 5D w/ Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens.

jpdm from Pignans, France

oh stephen i want to buy that 16-35 but maybe ef-s 10-22 would be enough for my 50d ?

11 Dec 2009 7:00pm

@jpdm: The 16-35 is the sweetest lens I've ever owned. However - on the 50D it becomes a 25.6 - 56. So if you want to shoot extreme wide angle - the 10-22 is the way to go. Happy shooting!

Yonatan from Bronx, United States

I always love hearing stories about how people first got started. Thanks for sharing. This is a nice composition with the white lines on the street leading the eye to the steep San Francisco street on which this landmark is situated.

12 Dec 2009 4:49pm