Enrico Banducci born Harry Charles Banducci; February 17, 1922 – October 9, 2007) was an American impresario. Banducci operated the hungry i nightclub in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.
The hungry i was a nightclub in San Francisco, originally located in the North Beach neighborhood. It played a major role in the history of stand-up comedy in the US. It was launched by Eric "Big Daddy" Nord, who sold it to Enrico Banducci in 1951. The club moved to Ghirardelli Square in 1967 and operated mostly as a rock music venue until it closed in 1970.
How the club's name came about has been something of a mystery to patrons. But in a 1985 interview with Mark Adams, he revealed that "It (the lowercase 'i') designated the first-person singular, with all of its various cravings." The comment was quoted in a 2007 obituary for Adams.
In 1981, Mort Sahl, Jonathan Winters, Professor Irwin Corey, Jackie Vernon, Ronnie Schell and a host of others gathered to film a tribute to Banducci that was nationally televised and entitled The hungry i Reunion. The film is intercut with reminiscences by Bill Cosby, Maya Angelou (who started at Banducci's club performing Caribbean songs and patter while imitating a Caribbean accent) and Phyllis Diller.
In 1988, after he lost Enrico's to one of its several closures over the years, he became a "hot dog vendor" also serving homecooked Italian food in Richmond, Virginia at the "hungry i hot dog stand" on land located in Shockoe Slip, the city's most upscale restaurant district, which he'd purchased for his son years earlier, much to the strenuous chagrin of the surrounding restaurateurs, who objected in vain to the presence of a small wooden one-man hot dog stand in a parking lot with a sign proclaiming "hungry i hot dog stand" amidst their deluxe multi-floored dining establishments.
Enrico bought the "hungry i" stand for $800 back in 1948. It was calculated that he made over $10 million from this venue. He spent much of his wealth on lavish lifestyle, with a yacht and incessant travel.
Enrico Banducci moved back to San Francisco in the late 1990s. He died in his sleep in South San Francisco, California at the age of 85.