Photo Walls: San Francisco's Cafe Trieste The father-daughter radio team of Mal and Jennifer Sharpe are exploring photo collections often on display at small businesses. This time, they visit Cafe Trieste, the oldest coffee house in San Francisco.
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Photo Walls: San Francisco's Cafe Trieste

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Photo Walls: San Francisco's Cafe Trieste

Photo Walls: San Francisco's Cafe Trieste

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Time now for another in our occasional series on photo walls. These are the collections of pictures that you'll often find on the walls of small businesses. Here are our photo wall curators, the daughter-and-dad radio team, Jennifer and Mal Sharpe.

Mr. MAL SHARPE: From San Francisco, the photo walls series continues. We're heading towards the cafe in the Italian neighborhood. What's the deal here, Jennifer?

Ms. JENNIFER SHARPE: Well, we're going to the Caffe Trieste.

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah.

Ms. SHARPE: This was, like, a beatnik hangout in the '50s.

Mr. SHARPE: Berets?

Ms. SHARPE: Yeah, black turtlenecks, goatees.

Mr. SHARPE: We're walking in the door now to meet I think it's Fabio, right?

Ms. SHARPE: Yeah, I think he's the son of guy who started the place, Papa John or something like that.

Mr. SHARPE: All right. Let's look around here. Everybody looks Italian in here.

Ms. SHARPE: Are you Fabio?

FABIO: The last time I looked.


Mr. SHARPE: Is that your father over there, right?

FABIO: That's my father.

Mr. SHARPE: It is?

FABIO: Eighty-five years young.

Mr. SHARPE: Here's Papa John. Now you started this in 19--What?

PAPA JOHN: This, I started in 1956.

Mr. SHARPE: Did you ever meet Jack Kerouac?

PAPA JOHN: I meet everybody. Everybody coming...

Mr. SHARPE: I mean, Corso, James--Richard Brautigan?

PAPA JOHN: Everybody, because 1956...

Mr. SHARPE: So tell us about the photo walls here. What's the earliest picture here, Fabio?

FABIO: Well...

Mr. SHARPE: By the way, is that you up there with the short pants in front of the microphone?

FABIO: Oh, yes. Yes.

Mr. SHARPE: What do you think of his legs, Jennifer?

Ms. SHARPE: They're cute. They're kind of plump and huge.

FABIO: Like two big prosciuttos, right? Yeah.

Ms. SHARPE: Exactly. Exactly.

FABIO: Very kind of succulent-looking, if you will.

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah. Right.

Ms. SHARPE: Right.

FABIO: I'm probably singing "Finiculi, Finicula." (Singing in Italian)

Mr. SHARPE: (Singing) Dah, dah, dah, dah.

Ms. SHARPE: (Singing) Dah, dah, dah, dah.

Unidentified Woman #1: I saw Bill Cosby...

Mr. SHARPE: This is one of the customers here.

Unidentified Woman #1: I came around that bend on December...

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah.

Unidentified Woman #1: ...9th, and the reason I remember it 'cause it was my birthday last December.

Mr. SHARPE: Does he come in here a lot, Bill Cosby?

FABIO: He loves to come in...

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah.

FABIO: ...and, as you can see in the photo, make his own coffee.

Mr. SHARPE: Fabio, what about these pictures over here on the back of the phone booth?

FABIO: That is part of a new tradition called the Trieste Kids Photo(ph).

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah.

FABIO: It's--there are a lot of children and parents who were children here probably around, you know, in my era.

Unidentified Woman #2: We have something called the Babyccino. It's a little tiny cup with milk that's like foam with chocolate on the top...


Unidentified Woman: ...and it's a Babyccino.

(Soundbite of espresso machine)

Mr. SHARPE: Ooh, that's good. Now back to the photo wall. Thank you.

Ms. SHARPE: Well, there's four pictures of Francis Ford Coppola, and he's sitting at that table in the back there.

Unidentified Woman #2: He wrote part of "The Godfather" at this very table right here.

Mr. SHARPE: So Coppola was writing "The Godfather" at this table.

FABIO: Yeah. It was very, very curious. What is this man doing in the corner with his little electric typewriter? He's there every morning.

Mr. SHARPE: He's in here every day.

FABIO: Every day

Ms. SHARPE: And you didn't know who he was?

FABIO: No, we didn't know who he was. He wasn't particularly well known at the time.

Mr. SHARPE: And he's got the beard, the famous Coppola beard there. How do you pronounce it? Is it Coppola (pronounced cop-ah-la), or Coppola (pronounced cah-poh-la)? You got the Italian thing.

FABIO: Coppola (pronounced cop-poh-la). Coppola

Mr. SHARPE: That's hard.

Ms. SHARPE: Coppola (pronounced cop-poh-la).

FABIO: That's good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PAPA JOHN: Excuse me! Excuse me! This is another one way (unintelligible). This is the day we open. This is the guy over here. This is my best friend for many, many years. We opened in '66; he was our first customer.

Mr. SHARPE: This is the first customer? You were the first--What's your name?

Mr. VICTOR VITATELLI(ph): You bet your life. Victor Vitatelli, a little Italian boy.

(Soundbite of camera)

Mr. SHARPE: OK. Jennifer's getting some shots of you here...


Mr. SHARPE: ...the first customer. So what do you think of the photo wall? What does it mean to you?

Mr. VITATELLI: Beautiful. It's something different, original...

Mr. SHARPE: Yeah.

Mr. VITATELLI: ...clean. There's no porn.

Mr. SHARPE: No porn.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. VITATELLI: It's a family deal.

Mr. SHARPE: Jennifer is snapping away here. You've taken more pictures...

Ms. SHARPE: Well, there's a whole crowd that's amassed here of these old men and, you know, it's great.

FABIO: It's an aura of art fueled by caffeine.

Mr. SHARPE: Bravo! Bravo!

(Soundbite of applause; "Finiculi, Finicula")

CHADWICK: Photo wall explorers Mal and Jennifer Sharpe. Pictures of this photo wall and the Sharpes' previous discoveries at

(Soundbite of "Finiculi, Finicula")

CHADWICK: DAY TO DAY returns in a moment. I'm Alex Chadwick.

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