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San Francisco singing waiter plan hits sour note

November 18, 2010 7:47:19 PM PST
Music with your meal, a common combination at many restaurants, is creating controversy in San Francisco, where even something so simple is regulated.

Would you like a little opera with your linguine? That is what the Italian restaurant Colosseo in North Beach would like to serve.

"It's a concept where we would bring people in, keep the vibrancy and culture of North Beach, so it all fits in," owner Salvatore Nevigato said.

Nevigato is applying for a permit to have amplified pre-taped orchestra music to back up singing waiters. He came up with the idea after a member of his staff spontaneously broke into song.

Nevigato just opened his restaurant a few months ago and thought the singing waiter idea would be a draw to help bring in locals during a lull in the tourist season. But in San Francisco it is not so simple. A politically powerful neighborhood group is opposed, apparently concerned that if its amplified opera today, perhaps a rock concert tomorrow.

But all Nevigato says he wants is to let a soprano like Jessie Nielson singing Puccini.

"This actually helps North Beach, little Italy, so I don't understand why they want to take that away," North Beach resident Gianni Ingargiola said.

All but two of the nearly 100 comments the city planning dept received are supportive. The business owner next to the restaurant is on board as long as the amplified sound is reserved for the dinner crowd.


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