Eddie Rickenbacker’s Proprietor, Norman Hobday, Dies at 77

As you step through the weathered doors of Eddie Rickenbacker’s on 2nd St. and Minna St. in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco, you’re likely to be taken aback by what you see; over half a million dollars in Tiffany lamps, 40 antique motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, a very fat cat, model train tracks surrounding the room, and of course, the obese owner hooked up to an oxygen machine, sprawled out on a couch in the corner, and most likely in a shirt that doesn’t even begin to cover his exposed gut.  This has got to be one of the strangest bars in the city.

Norman Hobday, better known as Henry Africa, was the owner of the bar.  Hobday is famous for his previous bar, Henry Africa’s, which is credited for the creation of the drink, the lemon drop.  He lived in the bar on the couch in the corner, until he passed away two fridays ago.  Hobday is somewhat of a legend in the San Francisco bar scene.

Brandon Ricigliano, whom I interviewed a few weeks ago, worked at a nearby restaurant and went to the bar after work and sometimes on his days off.

“I liked it because of the fact that it’s a weird place,” said Ricigliano.  “It’s the most lit up bar I’ve ever been in, plus there’s a guy dying in the corner, that’s weird.”

Though Ricigliano obviously doesn’t seem to mind the owner’s presence enough to stop coming every night, others find it completely off-putting.

Jake Mogelson, who was at the bar for the first time because his friends were there, has a much different feeling about the bar.  “I’m not so cool with the guy dying in the corner,” said Mogelson.

After watching the front door, it is obvious that others feel this way too.  They enter the bar, survey the scene, and promptly leave.  The sight of Hobday on the couch must be too much for some.

Hobday, never seemed to move from his couch in the corner, watching the History Channel with headphones on.  Every few hours he may have  yelled down the bar for a “waitress” to come give him a “lift.”  The bartender, looking quite annoyed since she had a full bar of thirsty patrons, stopped what she was doing to lift him to the seated position.  She sarcastically stated that this is just one of the “perks” of the job.

Though they did have to wait an extra couple of minutes for their drinks, none of the patrons seemed to mind.

Benjamin Christopher, who attends the bar a couple times a week, feels that it is confusing that the bartender has to make drinks and be a nurse at the same time.

“It’s possibly the most abnormal bar I’ve ever seen,” said Christopher.  “I would never take a date here.”

Ricigliano actually has taken one date there.  It didn’t work out.

At Eddie Rickenbacker’s, the drinks will cost you, but the eye candy is free.  Though some of the sites may be a bit disturbing, it is entertaining.  Like any bar, it still has its loyal patrons; unlike any other, it, for a while, had an obese owner sleeping in the corner with his obese cat.  Sadly, this is no longer the case.

The bar doesn’t seem the same anymore since Hobday passed away.


~ by Anotherfoodbloghuh? on March 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “Eddie Rickenbacker’s Proprietor, Norman Hobday, Dies at 77”

  1. Wow what a character. There’s a burger place in Oakland where the owner is perpetually perched at a table by the door, surfing the internet—though that’s considerably less obtrusive than a big dude loafing on a sofa 24/7.

    So did he actually die IN the bar??

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