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Friday, March 4, 2011

Last Call: Toasting a Pair of Local Legends

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge The bar at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, an international hub of tequila. Founder Tommy Bermejo died this week. - RICK/FLICKR
  • rick/Flickr
  • The bar at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, an international hub of tequila. Founder Tommy Bermejo died this week.

This week marked the passing of two Bay Area bar legends: Tommy Bermejo and Norman Jay Hobday, aka Henry Africa. Both men made a significant impact in the way we drink in San Francisco and beyond.

The late Tommy Bermejo.
  • The late Tommy Bermejo.

Bermejo is the Tommy of Tommy's, the Mexican restaurant he opened in 1965 with his wife, Elmy. While Julio, his son and official tequila ambassador, is largely responsible for the acclaimed tequila and margarita program, Tommy's influence in making his restaurant an international hub of tequila-drinking and education was unquestionable.

Besides his influence in the tequila world, he was a kind and gentle man. When SFoodie stopped by last month he was working as host, welcoming diners, and ensuring that everyone was happy and well fed, customers and employees alike.

Norman's legacy is the fern bar movement started with his bar Henry Africa's in the 1960s. It was a pioneering idea that created the singles bar, lemon drops (you know you loved them at some point in your life, don't lie), and the concept that spawned Perry's, the Brass Plum, and T.G.I. Friday's.

Here's to you, gentlemen. Cheers!

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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