Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - restaurants

Designers: Pflueger, Timothy L. Architect (firm); Timothy Ludwig Pflueger (architect)

Dates: constructed 1931

1 story

1025 Columbus Avenue
Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA 94133

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San Francisco architect produced a memorable design for the Bal Tabarin Restaurant in 1931, created for owners businessman Bob Grison, bandleader Tom Gerun, and night club manager, Frank Martinelli. The Bal Tabarin's remarkable ceiling and stage demonstrated Pflueger's new method of backlighting walls and ceilings through slatted metal screens, a design motif that would be reproduced by Pflueger and others in other restaurants, night clubs and hotels in San Francisco. Pflueger applied for a patent for this new ceiling and wall lighting method in 12/1931, and was granted patent number 1,962,648 in 06/1934. The Bal Tabarin operated for twenty years, before the location became another significant San Francisco night club, Bimbo's 365 Club.

Building History

The San Francisco Bal Tabarin Restaurant was named for the famous Bal Tabarin cabaret (opened in 1904 by musician Auguste Bosc [1868-1945]) in Paris's 9th Arrondissement, at 36, rue Victor-Massé. The Paris Bal Tabarin operated close to the Place Pigalle and famous nightspots of the Belle Époque such as the nearby Moulin Rouge. The club was immortalized by flamboyant advertising posters, including one done in 1904 by Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868-1934) and by a painting "Quadrille at the Bal Tabarin," done by French painter Louis Abel-Truchet (1857–1918).

The Bal Tabarin in San Francisco opened in 1931, two years before the repeal of Prohibition. It featured an elegant atmosphere that was designed to cater to men and women, with a bar (after 1933), fine food and an ever-changing array of stage acts. During the 1930s, it became one of the premier night spots in San Francisco, attracting talented, aspiring young people to dance or sing in its stage shows and influential entertainment executives to dine there and take in the performances.


Pflueger made alterations to the Bal Tabarin just after it began serving alcohol in 1934.

PCAD id: 20314