Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Fly Trap

In which personal history and City history collide

The Fly Trap restaurant, on Folsom Street near the corner of 2nd, has been in business in one form or another since 1898. It's a funny sort of name for such a venerable eatery. Louis' Restaurant, as it was once called, was originally on Market Street, where the patrons arrived in horse drawn carriages and by horse drawn omnibuses. With the horses came the flies, so Louis put a square bit of fly paper on each table to trap the pests. Appetizing, that. Legend has it that this prompted one of TR's Rough Riders to dub the place a "fly trap."

Louis was not pleased and, in a huff, quit the restaurant business and went back home to Italy.

Louis' cousin, Henry Besozzi, however, had a better sense of humor. After re-opening the restaurant after the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, he called it "The Fly Trap."

Yesterday, The Fly Trap closed, but only temporarily. For the next fortnight, until August 1, the new owners will be refining the menu as well as doing a few refinements on the enterior.

Waitress Meg shows off the menu

I first went to The Fly Trap more than 15 years ago. Then, friends Eve, Victoria and David worked there, the girls as waitresses and Dave as bartender. We shared a lot of good times there. Eventually, we all went on to other things, and I only went back to the place on special occasions. Then, in January, I moved into an office down the street from the place. The Fly Trap became my second living room, a pleasant lunchtime and afternoon retreat from the hum drum of work. I got to know Chris and Church and the other fine souls who keep the place going, in front of the bar and behind it.

One of The Fly Trap's Chandeliers

So who are the news owners? Six or so weeks back I walked into the restaurant and Chris, the manager, informed me that the place had been sold. Later, on my way out I saw a man in a gray suit sitting with a big fellow in an open-collared, L.A.-style shirt, the kind you wear un-tucked. The man in the suit looked familiar. I did a double take and then went up and asked, "Excuse me, are you Mark Rennie?"

He looked a little surprised, but said "Yes." In addition to his role as a night-life attorney, Mark Rennie used to own a nightclub called Club 9, on the corner of 9th Street and Harrison, where The Stud is now. I got my first job in San Francisco in November of 1986 at Club 9, first working in the open kitchen and then behind the bar. Courtney Love was the coat check girl. That was 22 years ago. Except for an appearance on the Phil Donahue show, when he was pushing vitamin-filled "smart drinks" to ravers (no kidding), I hadn't seen Mark since my Club 9 days.

Mark is the new owner, along with his partner and chef, Hass, of The Fly Trap. Clearly, what goes around comes around.


Blogger juliemarg said...

Besides this and the Tadich Grill, how many 100 year plus restaurants are there in San Francisco? Any dieas?

10:07 PM  
Blogger M2 said...

Let me get back to you on that, Julie. I think there are precious few left these days. I'll make a new post about it when I find out more.

10:09 AM  

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