Social Clubs”: Watering Holes and Restaurants

San Fran­cisco was a self-contained graphic commu­nity. Messenger bike services were the connec­tions in the city. FedEx did not exist; so local talent had the advan­tage espe­cially when changes to artwork were neces­sary or new photographs were needed.

Every­thing was accom­plished with phone calls and personal visits. Art studios had repre­sen­ta­tive salesmen who would call on ad agen­cies and corpo­rate offices. The indi­vidual free-lance artist or photog­ra­pher made personal calls. Type and paper “Reps” called on designers and adver­tising agen­cies. Even the owner of FLAX (art store) would call on BH&H where I would make a list of what was needed.

Since earlier years, the cool climate of San Fran­cisco had made it the corner­stone of the printing trade. Printers created the first trade union on the Pacific Coast in 1850. Big and small printing shops had their own graphic teams but when they needed back-up, they were another source of employ­ment for the city’s art studios and inde­pen­dent “creatives”. If a job was discussed with any of the suppliers near noon, they were likely to lunch together.

Suppliers and the ad commu­nity were all friends and small groups would socialize, usually at lunch hour — that could often linger to the dinner hour.

There were a lot of great places to meet. Some restau­rants were even another source of income, as they would need menus, ads, and even match­books — designed.

My new studio was just doors away from the new Playboy Club at Mont­gomery and Jackson streets. I only got a glimpse inside when getting the copy for this lunch menu. They didn’t care to spend much money on this small ad — not even a type­set­ting expense — it is just my hand lettering and a line from my typewriter.

Enrico Banducci who owned “Enrico’s” restau­rant on Broadway, had bought the “Hungry i” (the lower-case ”i” meant: intel­lec­tual) from Eric “Big Daddy” Nord of Beatnik fame. I was creating news­paper ads 2”x4” and 4”x4” for the “Hungry i” (example: Mort Saul, Carmen McRae and Nina Samone engage­ments). The checks that I received from Mr. Banducci were some­times diffi­cult to cash. Once, after several attempts at his bank’s teller window, the bank paid me — collecting from him later, I guessed.

Another job for a restau­rant, in this case, a wine menu for the Impe­rial Palace on Grant Avenue, offered me the chance to try another style of illus­tra­tion and also informed me of the history of the Chinese immi­grants in wine­making in our local counties.

The Impe­rial Palace also wanted me to assemble a 4’ X 7’ collec­tion of photographs of actors and other notable celebri­ties who had dined at their restau­rant. This was to be displayed on the south wall of their dining room. The addi­tional required task was to cut away the persons in the photos and hand­written signa­tures that were not to show. It became a “Crazy Quilt” of photos! Bill Hyde would smile at my attempts to work around a raised drawing board— on my “butcher paper” layout — that draped over the drawing board and down to the floor. Finally, I happily sent it and the photos with “crop marks” —off to Pisani Press. That shop had the crit­ical job assem­bling, mounting and framing it all. The Impe­rial Palace was pleased.

The above, assign­ments for: the Hungry i (19671968), the Impe­rial Palace (December 1967), and the Playboy Club (November 1968)— were offered to me by Alessandro Baccari. He, at that time, had his office in the Maybeck Building, 1736 Stockton Street.
He is now known as “the beating heart of North Beach”. He is the histo­rian of that part of San Francisco.

I have collected restau­rant names and personal notes of “repasts from the past”— (see our next posting).

Ann Thompson