THIS IS ONE OF THE THREE POSTCARDS OF THE LEGENDARY COPPA'S RESTAURANT I LISTED TODAY ON EBAY
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GUISEPPE COPPA WAS ONE OF PIONEERS OF ITALIAN RESTAURANTEURS IN SAN FRANCISCO.
Coppa's, located in the Montgomery Block Building ( short period restaurant located on 453 Pine street), was the most famous of all the Bohemian rendezvous spots and the city's favorite Italian eatery before the 1906 earthquake and fire. Located close to the stock exchange, Coppa's attracted brokers and financiers during the day, but once the sun set, it was the mecca for Bohemians.30 Gelett Burgess had also immortalized Coppa's in his romance, The Heart Line, as "Fulda's." The food was rated above average, thanks to the culinary expertise of Giuseppe Coppa, the Turinese chef who had trained in some of the city's top restaurants, notably the swank Poodle Dog Restaurant, after closing his trattoria in a North Beach alley.
Coppa's was quickly adopted by San Francisco's Bohemians -- Jules Tavernier, Joe Strong, long-haired Xavier Martinez, Porter Garnett, George Sterling, Jack London, Gelett Burgess, Maynard Dixon, Will and Wallace Irwin, and the rest of the publishing staff of the avant-garde literary magazine, The Lark. T was a mutually satisfying relationship between the Bohemians and Coppa. They liked Coppa because of his fine cooking, good humor, jovial smile, his chicken en casserole and fried cream, and especially his soft heart in forgiving unpaid bills. Coppa, who had aspired to become a singer in his youth, welcomed the contingent of artists who frequented his restaurant. Coppa's father, a chef, would not hear of his son's aspirations and sent him to Paris to learn to be a saucier. T Coppa met and married the diminutive and soft-spoken Elizabeth, who became maitresse d' and "Mamma" Coppa to the Bohemians, lending to the restaurant a familial ambience. It was a feeling, wrote Helen Purdy, that "for an hour [one] thought that [one was] on Italian soil, and the waiter[s] so solicitous to please you, so anxious that [one should] enjoy their food [added] to the illusion.The Coppas, including a son, arrived in San Francisco in 1890.
The original Coppa's Restaurant was a long, narrow room on the ground floor of the Montgomery Block. It had a high ceiling with chandeliers and an inviting expanse of bare wall. Three rows of seven tables filled the dining room. Felix, Coppa's partner, tended the ornate bar while Coppa, the chef de cuisine, ran the kitchen. A four-bit table d'hotel consisted of salad, pasta, entree, crusty sourdough bread, black coffee, and a bottle of wine.
After a hired worker botched a repair job, a group of Coppa's Bohemian clientele repainted the restaurant gratis, producing a fresco that completely covered three walls. Every Sunday for three months a different artist worked on the mural. The first was Porter Garnett, who drew in chalk a fierce, five foot high lobster which he set atop an island named Bohemia along with two friendly nudes done by the sculptor Robert Aiken. A decorative border, bearing the names of all the Bohemian cronies, appeared next to names of the world's great thinkers, and the names of writers such as Aristotle and Dante circled the top of the wall, while below was a parade of black cats and a cartouche called the "Temple of Fame.
Coppa's became too popular with the Bohemians, and this ultimately undermined its success among the local Italian clientele. While the Bohemians had created a haven for themselves, persuading Coppa to return to his looted restaurant after the 1906 earthquake and fire to cook a "last supper," the Italians took their patronage to the less crowded and inexpensive restaurants that opened along Columbus Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the Italian colony.35 Although Coppa's survived the earthquake and fire, the landlord raised the rent, forcing Coppa to relocate, and tafter open a series of mediocre restaurants.
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THE POSTCARD WIL...