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Francis Ford Coppola Opens Cafe in San Francisco


Jeff Morgan
Posted: March 31, 1999

Filmmaker and Napa Valley vintner Francis Ford Coppola marked the opening of his new Cafe Niebaum-Coppola with two back-to-back benefit auctions for North Beach Citizens, an organization he founded to aid the homeless. Why two auctions? Because the cozy little French-Italian bistro, on the first floor of San Francisco's historic Flatiron Building, has only 800 square feet of floor space, barely enough elbow room for 50 guests.

In attendance were such screen personalities as Coppola and wife Eleanor, actress Sharon Stone (who also acted as auctioneer the first night), director George Lucas and Don Novello, who played the Father Guido Sarducci character on Saturday Night Live.

"I always wanted to do something like this," Coppola said, gesturing toward the stacked bottles and foodstuffs lining the walls of his new bistro. The casual eatery not only serves light breakfasts, lunches and dinners, but also functions as a tasting room for Niebaum-Coppola Estate wines and as a retail outlet for Coppola's new line of Italian specialty food items. The limited seating inside is augmented by a sidewalk cafe.

Coppola explained that he wanted to create a cafe like those in Europe, where travelers can buy a glass of wine and a snack -- or simply an espresso -- and sit down to enjoy themselves in the midst of a bustling city.

Being a restaurateur is not entirely new to the film director: He is already a partner in San Francisco's Rubicon restaurant (a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner for its wine list), which is named after one of his wines. Coppola purchased Napa Valley's famous Inglenook vineyard, now the source of the Niebaum-Coppola wines, in 1975. Around the same time, he purchased the Flatiron Building, where he houses his Zoetrope film production company and now the cafe as well.

Cafe Niebaum-Coppola is actually the first of about 50 similar establishments Coppola plans to open in major U.S. cities within the next five years.

Related stories:

  • November 4, 1998
    Coppola to Direct New Line of Wine Bars, Organic Foods

  • June 6, 1997
    Coppola Releases Two New $12 Wine Blends

  • December 15, 1995
    The Director's New Script
    Francis Ford Coppola puts history back together by reviving Napa Valley's Inglenook estate

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