When you want to hear classic opera played on vinyl from an old-school jukebox, while drinking old-school cocktails, there's only once place to go in San Francisco: the Tosca Cafe.
The North Beach watering hole is a haven of class, with tuxedoed bartenders, table service, red vinyl booths, and a 100-percent opera jukebox. Famous clientele of the 92-year-old bar include just about any big name that's ever come through San Francisco: Francis Ford Coppola (a local), Sean Penn, Hunter S. Thompson, Ed Harris, and many more.
But according to Chronicle columnist Chuck Nevius, the bar's landlord is threatening to make the next piece heard in the Tosca a fat lady singing.
Nevius reports today that the bar's owner, Jeannette Etheredge, is struggling to cope with a recent raise in rent, from $7,500 to $8,000 -- about $2,000 more than she says she can afford. Her landlord, strip club owner Roger Forbes, says the Tosca either has to pay up or face eviction.
That's not too pleasing for North Beach locals and Tosca regulars, who are already upset about the influx of corporate skin houses and the departure of neighborhood hangouts of which the Tosca is a crown jewel. Nevius, for one, thinks the landlord's rent-raising ambitions won't get him far in this dispute:
Although Forbes may have all that strip club cash, I don't like his chances. It is possible that he could evict Tosca and put in another generic stripper revue in its place. He might even make a little more money. People are reportedly warning Forbes not to mess with Tosca. Putting in a strip club is one thing. Evicting an institution is another.
Nevius also says that there are problems with the Tosca: Its owner is mean to celebrities (okay, so?), and the bar doesn't take credit cards (let us know when you an S.F. bar that does, please.)
But god help the landlord if he thinks this city will let him kick out at timeless bar with a timeless jukebox for a measly 500 clams a month. If he were an opera fan, he'd know that a character's unbridled arrogance rarely results in a happy outcome.