Giovanni “Papa Gianni” Giotta (1920-2016)
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Customers:
It is with “cuor’ pesante” (heavy heart) that I must report to you the passing of my father. This little dynamo of a man founded our company, accomplished so much and made so many feel good with his personality, service and music. His unique expressions-his hands, his words and his songs, are preserved in history. He was at the core of my musical upbringing and life, and our world will never be the same without him. Below is his complete obituary as it will appear in the San Francisco Chronicle.
~ Fabio G. Giotta
Giovanni “Papa Gianni” Giotta
May 1, 1920 – June 11, 2016
The Patriarch of the Giotta Family was called Home by Our Lord last Saturday. He was known as “The Espresso Pioneer of the West Coast” as founder of the Internationally known “Caffe Trieste” in San Francisco’s North Beach in 1956. Papa Gianni opened the Caffe just over 60 years ago; it has been well chronicled for its unique blend Old World family atmosphere (the entire family worked there for decades), artistry (the Giotta Family members’ collective singing and instrumental careers started in the U.S. with a 1953 radio appearance) and quality coffee, the result of the family’s unique roasting and blending techniques.
Papa Gianni was born in Rovigno D’Istria, Italy, in the Northeastern sector that would become part of the newly formed Yugoslavia after WW II. Papa Gianni and wife Ida, son Gianfranco and daughter Sonia left their native land as refugees, moving to nearby Monfalcone, Italy in 1947, immigrating to the U.S. in 1951. On a handshake, fellow Italian immigrant Palladini loaned Gianni $7,000 for his purchase of Il Piccolo Caffe at 601 Vallejo Street, which wife Ida promptly renamed “Caffe Trieste”.
In 1971, singers Papa and son Gianfranco (1944-1999) found a way to combine their musical work with the Caffe, establishing the Longest Running Musical Show in the City of San Francisco-the Caffe Trieste Saturday Concert. Mamma Ida (vocals) and son Fabio (vocals and accordion) joined the effort almost immediately, with daughter Sonia joining what had become an organized musical troop in the 1980’s. Papa continued to perform in the Concert and elsewhere until recently.
Papa Gianni realized many of his dreams; two of the most notable were recording a live LP of the Concert and producing a video of the Caffe and Concert as well. Additional video and audio pieces were later released under the Trieste Records label. Papa also helped develop the company in to a small chain in the 2000’s.
Papa Gianni Giotta is survived by his wife of 76 years, Ida, his daughter Sonia, son Fabio, and granddaughters Nicole, Ida and Gianna. Services on Friday, June 17, 2016: viewing at 10 a.m. followed by funeral mass at 10:30 a.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert Street, San Francisco. Interment at St. Olivet Catholic Cemetery in San Rafael, CA. A Celebration of Life will be held at Caffe Trieste-NorthBeach on Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Flowers may be sent to Halsted N. Gray, 1123 Sutter Street, San Francisco.
Papa Gianni had a special place in his heart for the vital help he got from the Franciscan Friars O.F.M. of Rovigno when he was a child, and as a young immigrant father, from the Salesians in North Beach and the Italian Welfare Agency in NorthBeach. Accordingly, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Sts. Peter and Paul Church (Salesians), 666 Filbert Street, San Francisco, 94133, Italian Community Services, 678 Green Street, San Francisco 94133 (www.italiancs.com) or the Knights of Saint Francis, 700 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 94111 (www.knightsofsaintfrancis.org)