North Beach Legend Enrico Banducci’s Wake This Sunday
Enrico’s at 504 Broadway will be packed this Sunday afternoon as it’s hosting a “wake” in honor of namesake Enrico Banducci . The neighborhood will no doubt turn out in droves to celebrate the amazing & colorful life of grand showman Enrico with his family and friends. The event is scheduled this Sunday Oct 28Th @ 1pm and open to general public with an open mic forum.
Banducci passed away on October 9th, but leaves behind an iconic entrepreneurial legacy that includes not only his namesake Broadway cafe but also the Clown Alley hamburger stand, and most famously the hungry i nightclub. This intimate venue, refused to serve drinks during the entertainers sets, and helped launch the careers of The Kingston Trio, Lenny Bruce, Bob Newhart, Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory, Jonathan Winters, Maya Angelou, Woody Allen, Prof Irwin Corey, Jonathan Winters, and even Barbra Streisand. He fed the talent his famous free sandwiches, and nurtured free speech and art in a very conservative era.
Banducci , who might have had more wives than real business sense eventually lost too much money running his most famous venture, and an era ended when he sold the Hungry i name off by 1970 to topless club king Sam Conti who used the name as a strip club at 546 Broadway.
More on Enrico’s enduring legacy after the jump
Despite his willingness to forego a certain amount of cash in exchange for quality entertainment, he paid a high price at times for the sense of freedom he fostered in the McCarthyism era. Here’s a picture of Enrico Banducci behind bars after he was thrown in jail in 1961 for not wearing a suit in court and some “impertinent” behavior in front of a local judge. Fortunately for Enrico his stay was only 24 hours. Incidentally, despite featuring the controversial comedian many times, he was never busted with Lenny Bruce when his performances offended the local vice squad. (jail pic from the San Francisco Public Library collection).
The original location of the ‘hungry i’ was at the base of the Sentinel building at 599 Jackson and the name reportedly stood for Hungry Intellectual. It was a very famous venue in the late 50′s & early 60′s and many live albums were recorded here by acts like The Limeliters, Kingston Trio etc.
Long having sold off his businesses, the 85 year old Banducci had been hospitalized earlier in September for kidney and heart problems. Last year the SF Performing Arts Museum held an exhibit with memorabilia from the hungry i.
Mr. SF’s history of Enrico Banducci and the hungry i
Enrico’s, now under new management obviously, also has a humdinger of a Hitchcock Hallow’s Eve planned featuring transgender caberet singer Veronica Klaus backed up by the Cottontails, and invites folks to dress up in fave Hitchcock themed costumes.