Enrico Banducci's Legendary hungry i Lives Again!
Enrico Banducci - 1922-2007
When some of the artists who'd helped to make the hungry I famous and/or launched their own careers there saluted Enrico Banducci at the opening of the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum's exhibition, they all cited the magic he created. Not to mention his courage, respect for artists ….. and their paychecks which so often bounced.
Born in 1922 as Harry Banducci, and hailing from a small town near Bakersfield, California, original career intentions centered around the violin, and thus the prodigy's move to San Francisco to study with the concert master of the city's famed symphony orchestra.
His mother's appreciation of the great Caruso plus a feeling that Enrico completed a Continental touch for a violin prodigy, he adopted his alternate first name at an early age.
The twain between violin and hospitality met when his wife Raimonde Verney (daughter of the violist) open Enrico's Fine Foods on Bush Street in San Francisco.
As he tells it, it was at this establishment where Enrico Banducci first began wearing the signature beret, apparently making it his own version of a chef's hat.
In the hey day of the hungry i, the famed theatre club was only one of his hostelries, others including the sidewalk café ENRICO's (on Broadway) established in 1958 which he held through 1986, but continued to operate through the end of the decade. There were also burger shops like Clown Alley which he owned in partnership with Morgan
But his crowning glory was surely the hungry i, and the entertainment and social milestones he made possible by his enlightened and truly liberal helmsman ship of the club's program.
After a spell on the east coast in the nineties, Enrico Banducci moved back to the Bay area . He always considered himself to be a man proud of what he achieved in the past but very definitely one who lived in the present. And ever a part of his life, the bibrant violin which he continued to play with sensitivity and love until his death on October 10, 2007.
A memorial celebration of his glorious life was held on October 28, 2007 at the establishment he operated for so many years, Enrico's on Broadway in San Francisco.
Read obituary from San Francisco Chronicle at
Enrico Reminisces on hungry i DVD!
Experience your own hungry i reunion with the wonderful DVD featuring commentary by Enrico Banducci and performances by The Kingston Trio, Limeliters, Mort Sahl, jonathan Winters, Stan Wilson + rare Lenny Bruce footage. Just click the icon to order direct from Amazon!