On April 7, 1980, Jeannette Etheredge claimed the keys to Tosca Café, a mainstay in North Beach since 1919. That night, she celebrated the birthday of her friend, Francis Ford Coppola, over dinner at Tommaso’s before dragging him to the bar—“I can’t go to Tosca—the [owner] doesn’t like me,” Coppola had said. Etheredge surprised him: “Come here anytime you like. I bought the bar.” It was the beginning of an era.
With her connections, Etheredge’s Tosca would become the SF haunt for film and literary types, playing host to annual parties for the SF International Film Festival. “Soon after Jeannette bought Tosca, we started shooting The Right Stuff,” director Philip Kaufman tells 7x7. “Sam Shepard, Chuck Yeager, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, and the entire cast and crew hung out there…Tosca was like Pancho’s Happy Bottom Riding Club in the high desert, and Jeannette was our Pancho.”
More than 20 years later, the era looked to be ending in August 2012 when rumors broke of Tosca’s impending eviction. In January, things looked up. In a deal said to have been brokered by none other than Sean Penn, NYC restaurateurs April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin) purchased the beloved bar, promising to “preserve the restaurant as Tosca.” Etheredge tells 7x7 that she is grateful to be passing the place on to friends. Now, we take a look back at the legacy of Tosca and the stars who have warmed its red vinyl banquettes. Here’s hoping for a future just as bright.
This article was published in 7x7's June issue. Click here to subscribe.