Francesco’s, Oakland, California – CLOSED

Last week I heard from a friend that Francesco’s Italian Restaurant, near the airport in Oakland since 1968, will be closing its doors for good soon. The word is they will be open until March or April of 2016. I went back last weekend for a long-overdue return with friends and it won’t be the last time I go back before it closes. The East Bay will be losing perhaps the last family-owned old-style Italian restaurant in the area and that is a real shame. This is a place I was excited to check out about 10 years ago but now I wish I had visited more often. Here are some pics I took last Saturday night.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Dewey Bargiacchi opened Francesco’s in 1968 after running the popular Chandelier in Jack London Square. His mother, known as Mama Bargiacchi, founded the North Pole Club and the Villa de la Paix in Oakland. Francesco’s is now owned by the third generation of the same family.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

the bar - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

the bar – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

amazing grapes chandelier - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

amazing grapes chandelier – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

our waitress Lisa preparing tableside Caesar salad - it was delicious! -  photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

Our waitress Lisa preparing tableside Caesar salad – it was delicious! – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

"Italian pot roast" with their homemade ravioli - YUM! - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

“Italian pot roast” with their homemade ravioli – YUM! – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Be sure to look at the memorabilia of the family’s restaurant history at the entrance to the bar and the old photos and articles on the Oakland airport over the years.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Francesco’s
8520 Pardee Dr, Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 569-0653
Open Mon-Fri 11:00am – 9:45pm, Sat 4:00pm-9:45pm, closed Sunday

 

 

Memory Lane – Windows on the World, New York City

This blog is primarily intended to celebrate classic and historic restaurants that still exist, but occasionally I will be posting about a restaurant that is gone or recently closed.

My mom was born and raised in New York City (in Queens) so although I grew up in San Diego we made several trips “back East” to visit family. In the early 1970s my relatives who lived on Long Island were very excited about the new modern skyscrapers in “The City”, which were designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki. My uncle worked only a few blocks from the World Trade Center for a shipping company in an older building that overlooked the Hudson River. I remember visiting the Twin Towers in 1976 as it was just after the big Bicentennial celebration in NYC on the 4th of July and there were still many historic boats in the city from the Parade of Ships. We visited the rooftop observation deck (which opened in 1975) during the day….

 

teenage me, a bit nervous on the roof of the World Trade Center, 1975 or 1976

teenage me, a bit nervous on the roof of the World Trade Center, 1976

 

…and were lucky enough to dine at the Windows on the World at night. I don’t know how my Uncle scored a table there as it was the hot new restaurant in the city at the time.

 

tumblr_lulunzMCVR1qgpvyjo1_1280

 

Windows on the World opened in May, 1976. The restaurant was one of several opened in NYC by restaurateur Joe Baum, including The Forum of the Twelve Caesars (1957-1975), The Four Seasons (1959 and still open!), and La Fonda Del Sol (1960-early 1970s).

 

La Fonda Del Sol - designed by Alexander Girard with furniture by Charles and Ray Eames - photo by B22 Design's Facebook page

La Fonda Del Sol – designed by Alexander Girard with furniture by Charles and Ray Eames – photo by B22 Design’s Facebook page

 

menu designed by Malton Glaser, 1976 - image by Container List

menu designed by Milton Glaser, 1976 – image by Container List

 

 

 

Warren Platner was the interior designer of the Windows on the World, working with Baum and graphic designer Milton Glaser on the menus, china patterns, and other graphics.

 

 

 

 

elevator lobby for the restaurant at the 106th/107th floors - photo by Glen. H on flickr

elevator lobby for the restaurant at the 106th/107th floors – photo by Glen. H on flickr

 

reception to the Windows on the World, designed by Warren Platner - photo by Dwell.com

reception room for Windows on the World, designed by Warren Platner – photo by Dwell.com

 

Windows on the World, 1976 - photo by the Container List

Windows on the World, 1976 – photo by the Container List

 

The menu was a table d’hôte blend of American and Continental, created by the team of Baum with consultants Jacques Pepin and James Beard. There was also a more intimate Cellar in the Sky dining room with a 5-course menu and an extensive wine list, and the Hors d’Oeuvrerie, with an à la carte menu of small plates. The bars were called the City Lights Bar and the Statue of Liberty Lounge.

 

City Lights Bar, 1976 - photo by phdonohue.tumblr.com

City Lights Bar, 1976 – photo by what’s left on tumblr.com

 

In 1993 a bomb inside a truck was detonated by terrorists in the basement below the north tower, killing six people and injuring many. The restaurant was closed due to damage to its receiving and storage areas, but it had been in decline after a couple ownership changes. Joe Baum won the bidding for a new Windows on the World, which opened in 1996.

 

new Windows on the World - photo by Container List

new Windows on the World – photo by Container List

 

new Windows on the World

new Windows on the World – photo by KungFoohippy on imgur

 

Tragically, we lost Windows on the World and 79 employees of the restaurant on September 11, 2001. The new 1WTC building has a fine dining restaurant, but there is a controversial required fee of $32 just to take the elevator to the observation level that has the restaurant with the clever name ONE. (The original Windows on the World had membership dues at first, which varied by the area of Manhattan you lived in, but anyone could visit the restaurant for a one-time fee of $10 plus $3 per person. I guess in contrast, considering inflation, the $32 fee seems a bit more reasonable?)

Personally, I would rather dine at the modernist Four Seasons (which Joe Baum opened in 1959) that recently was saved from a remodel. Buy Peter Moruzzi’s book Classic Dining to see photos of The Four Seasons and then you’ll want to save your money and go!

Postcard Panorama

Image

Trader Vic's Oakland“The Deck” overlooking the bar, Trader Vic’s, Oakland – from The Jab’s collection

This location, the first Trader Vic’s, closed in 1972 – more info

Memory Lane – The Flame, Countryside, Illinois

This blog is primarily intended to celebrate classic and historic restaurants that still exist, but occasionally I will be posting about a restaurant that is gone or recently closed.

 

The Flame logo

photo from The Flame facebook page

photo from The Flame facebook page

 

The Flame was opened in the suburbs outside of Chicago in 1958 by Peter Makris.

 

early postcard from The Flame facebook page

early postcard from The Flame facebook page

 

It was remodeled sometime after the postcard photos above and below were taken.

 

postcard from The Flame facebook page

postcard from The Flame facebook page

 

sign in 1970s - photo by The Flame facebook group

sign in 1970s – photo by The Flame facebook group

sign in 1970s - photo by The Flame facebook group

sign in 1970s – photo by The Flame facebook group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

postcard from The Flame facebook page

postcard from The Flame facebook page

 

In its heyday The Flame restaurant expanded to locations in Chicago (The Flame East in Lincoln Park Tower, which was reportedly frequented by employees of the Playboy Club) and Florida (in Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, and Stuart). The chain also opened several locations of Lord Chumley’s Pub in Florida and one in St. Charles, Illinois (still there, but remodeled).

 

postcard from The Flame facebook page

postcard from The Flame facebook page

 

Many celebrities and sports figures were regulars at The Flame, including Evel Knievel and Jack Costanzo, the famous drummer who performed there every Saturday night in the mid-1990s.

 

tree lounge in the 1970s, - photo from The Flame facebook page

tree lounge in the 1970s, – photo from The Flame facebook page

 

Inside the bar was a large tree covered with flowers and colored lights, and Christmas ornaments in season. I’m not sure when this feature was added as it doesn’t show in early postcards, but it was known as the Tree Lounge eventually.

 

photo from The Flame facebook page

recent photo from The Flame facebook page

 

In 2003 I dined there and it looked like it does in the more recent photos above and below.

 

recent photo from The Flame facebook page

recent photo from The Flame facebook page

I don’t recall much except we ordered steaks. I always wanted to return but never made it out there on subsequent visits to Chicago in 2005, 2007, and 2010.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2003

photo by Dean Curtis, 2003

 

Sadly, in 2012 the owner, Peter Makris’ daughter Nanci Makris, passed away. Her family decided to close the restaurant at the end of the year.

 

photo from The Flame facebook page

photo from The Flame facebook page

 

The Flame had a final blowout on New Years Eve, 2012. Local photographer Jeffrey C. Johnson created a book with photo memories of the closing night at The Flame. Also check his Flickr for some great photos of The Flame.

The building has been stripped and remodeled for a new restaurant called Outriggers Flame. A few of the elements of the original decor are still there, such as rock walls and wood paneling (strangely, not an outrigger is to be found), but the tree lounge, booths, stained glass, and lamps are gone.

 

CLOSED – Capp’s Corner, San Francisco, California

Recently I heard a rumor on Facebook that one of the oldest Italian restaurants in North Beach, Capp’s Corner, is going to close on March 17th. I searched for more info and found out they simply can’t afford to stay in business after a huge rent increase. San Francisco, this is starting to get real old. Soon, I fear, much of the old charm in one of the most well-loved cities in the country will be gone, thanks to greedy landlords. I’m hoping Capp’s Corner can survive, but in any case I urge you to visit real soon.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Capp’s Corner was opened by Joe Capp (Caporale), a San Francisco native, boxing promoter, and bookie, and Frank Sarubei in 1963 on the corner of Green and Powell Streets. Joe tended bar and greeted customers at the door in his trademark fedora hat, black suit and tie, smoking his cigar. In the 1960s a dinner at Capp’s, served family style with soup, salad, bread, vegetable, and pasta, cost around $5. In the 1980s the restaurant was purchased by the current owner, Tom Ginella. Joe Capp passed away in 1996.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

When you enter Capp’s you see the large carved-wood back bar, which appears to be over 100 years old (the restaurant was a Basque place before 1963). They still use the old manual cash registers at the bar.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The dining room is decorated with simple wooden furniture, checked table coverings, the original linoleum flooring, and many framed works of art and photographs on the walls, making for an interesting browse before or after your meal.

 

linguine with clams and mussels - photo by sptsb.com

linguine with clams and mussels – photo by sptsb.com

 

The dinners are served “family style” with a good, thick, house made minestrone soup, a green salad with house made creamy Italian dressing, and French bread (soup or salad at lunchtime). The menu includes several pasta dishes, which come with soup and salad, and many heartier entrees, which come with soup, salad, pasta marinara, and vegetables. The linguine with clams and mussels is very well-regarded (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of City Lights bookstore, is a fan). Also popular are chicken parmigiana, petrale sole, leg of lamb, osso buco, and the NY steak, which a friend ordered on my recent visit. I was impressed by the flavor and size of the steak (only $25 with all the extras is a true steak bargain). I had the osso buco, which was very tender and served with plenty of delicious sauce. And you can bet that I’ll be going back soon for a steak or some pasta with clams and mussels!

 

Capp’s Corner
1600 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 989-2589
Open for Lunch Sun, Mon, Wed-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat 11:30am-4:00pm
Dinner served Mon, Wed, Thur 4:30pm-10:00pm, Fri 4:30pm-10:30pm, Sat 4:00pm-10:30pm, Sun 2:30pm-10:00pm
Bar is open Mon 11:00am-10:00pm, Wed-Sun 11:30am-2:00am
Closed Tuesdays