Agostino Giuntoli left Tuscany, Italy in 1922 at the age of 19 and sailed to America. He spent five years working his way to San Francisco and found a job as janitor at the famed Palace Hotel. From there he became a cook at a nearby establishment where his boss, Monk Young, was unable to pronounce his name and dubbed him “Bimbo”, the Italian word for boy. The name stuck for good.
In 1931, he and Young, now his partner, opened the 365 Club at 365 Market Street. San Francisco was weary of the Depression, needed some fun, and the 365 Club was there to provide it. The club was crowded with celebrities and stars from across America who were there to see and be seen. On stage, lines of long-stemmed chorus girls kicked high to the music; one of whom was Rita Cansino. Later, we would all know her as Rita Hayworth. Gin was served in coffee cups while everybody puzzled over the optical illusion provided by Dolfina, The Girl in the Fishbowl: She appeared to swim nude in the fish tank behind the bar… you can still find her there today.
When Bimbo’s moved to Columbus Avenue in 1951, the scene got even more exciting. Herb Caen caught it all and recalled, “Jugglers, dance teams, stand-up comics, crooners chantootsies, Stage Door Johns, a proper band in proper uniforms… Multi-course dinners, Red Sparkling Burgundy in the silver bucket, and a nice-bucketed lady in a silver fox stole topped by a gardenia bought by a ‘pro’ in the men’s room.”
Bimbo’s is now busier than ever with private parties, special events, and concerts. Some of our corporate clients include Cellular One, Oracle, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and Yahoo!. This glamorous nightclub presents the latest popular acts such as Chris Isaak, The Raconteurs, Adele, Robin Williams, and Jill Scott.
Some people come to relive the good old days of San Francisco nights, others have their good old days for the first time. What they have in common is a landmark that’s destined to stand as long as San Francisco stands for good times.