Category Archives: Trident Orgin

The Trident Origin

In the summer of 1960, Louis Ganapoler commuted daily in his dull green 50’s Pontiac from his home in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey over the George Washington Bridge to Greenwich Village, New York. Here the scent of espresso coffee from Little Italy mingled with the scent of marijuana from Harlem. Lou managed the seminal Jazz nightclub called the “Village Vanguard” owned by Max Gordon. At the Vanguard the greatest names played nightly to crowds of beatniks, mobsters, hustlers and intellectuals all gathered to hear and see the cutting edge of entertainment. If you wanted to see Miles, Coltrane, Dizzy, Cannonball, the Weavers, Peter Paul and Mary, Woody Allen, Mort Sahl or Lenny Bruce, you went to the Vanguard. Lenny Bruce had just finished a week as a comedy headliner. Each night after Lenny was paid, he would go down to Alphabet City to cop a fix. Each night, after he’d gotten high, street thugs rolled Lenny for what was left of his pay. Lou said, “Lenny, why don’t you put your bread in your sock before you split?” When they tried to mug Lenny the next night they didn’t get his pay, instead Lenny got smacked in the eye for pissing off the hoods. One night Lou and Lenny went to a Gypsy to get Lenny’s fortune read. After a few minutes of what seemed like bullshit to Lenny he got up to leave without a word, and his way was blocked by the Gypsy’s two sons (Lenny was notoriously cheap, and the madam wanted her money). After an awkward moment, Lenny leaned to Lou and whispered something. Lou said to the Madam, “Lenny wants to know if they’ll ever cure his deafness?” It was a punch line, but like everything else in Lenny’s life it was a defense against his own worst impulses. The Kingston Trio was scheduled for a week long engagement at the Vanguard. Frank Werber who was the manager, visionary and baby sitter of the Trio that had booked the gig for prime dough because at that point, the boys were a sensation. “Hang down your head Tom Dooley” had crossed over from college radio to mainstream, and had gone gold two years before. Lou liked the kids and their manager. Back in 1957, they had come east from Palo Alto, California, played clubs like the Vanguard and the Hungry I, and started to make a name for themselves. They were broke then, and Lou knew it. He reached into his pocket and gave them some cash and told them about a flop house they could crash in nearby. They never forgot that goodwill. After the 1960 gig had finished, Frank told Lou about a club they had bought near San Francisco as a tax write off. That’s how wealthy they had become. “We’d like you to come out and see the place. Maybe you could recommend someone to manage it for us.” Now Lou stood on Bridgeway Street, the fishing town of Sausalito. From this vantage, he could see the outline of San Francisco through the drifting fog on the bay. Sailboats tacked lazily to avoid the return of the fishing fleet. The “club” that the Trio owned sat over the water on creosote soaked pilings. Named “The Dock”, it was less a night club than a way-station for mariners wanting drinks and snacks. Sawdust covered the floor to soak up the spilled drinks and vomit. But Lou could see the potential, and he trusted Frank’s vision. After sizing it up, he met with the guys. “So what do you think Lou?” Bob Shane asked. “Could be a gold mine. Lotta work though…” “Can you recommend a manager?” Frank asked. “Yeah,”Lou said, “Me.” There were no papers signed, no money discussed. Hand-shakes all around was all. Lou flew back to the East Coast to give the Vanguard notice and told Belle to sell the house and car in Jersey, pack up all their stuff and get ready to move the three kids to California. Lou carried some of the beat style of New York with him to Marin County. Black suit, white shirt, skinny black tie and goatee was his signature look. In the daytime he looked out of place, but against the setting sun, he cut a rakish figure. He was 42 years old. Lou had always worked in restaurants. His parents owned a deli and sitdown restaurant in the Bronx called “Janoff’s”. Janoff’s had an advertising slogan: “At Janoff’s it’s good. You always get the very best food”. Lou had worked there throughout high school and stayed on even after while his older siblings had gone off to college. Then the war came. But Lou knew how to run a kitchen and a floor crew. He knew how to manage people and most important, he could make money in a restaurant. Not a lot of people could. As the carpenters cleaned up The Dock for it’s reincarnation to The Trident, Lou hired a young Escoffier trained chef named Pierre Flaubert. Pierre and Lou worked out the menu. New York steak, escargo, beef ragout, fresh fish, soups and stews, salads and sides. It was an agreement of style and substance. Pierre was a multiple level black belt Karate master who was invited back to Japan each year by the pre-eminent Senseis to judge and award degrees to the creme-de-la-creme of black belts who competed. Most of the bus boys, and dishwashers that were hired for the opening of the Trident were Korean. Guys with names like “Park” & “Sook”. They were all martial artist who could kick higher than their own heads. They all knew Pierre could kick all their asses jointly, or severally. There was an air of respect that flowed through the kitchen onto the floor of the Trident. It came from top down. And most of all they loved ” Mr. Lou” (MistahRooh) what was always there to explain what, why, and how something had to be done. There were only waiters in the original Trident. In those days, waiters could make a good living for themselves, and their families. All the floor crew wore matching starched gold or turquoise single button coats with white shirts and ties. This was a classy joint. No more sawdust on the floor. Lou began a practice that ensured that the place always ran smoothly. He told the captain, Joe Morrell, and the waiters that tips were to be pooled and shared with the busboys and dishwashers. When the Trident was busy, as it was almost every lunch and dinner rush, the place ran like a beautiful, simple machine. And, everyone looked forward to those little manilla (tip) envelopes at the end of the shift. Lou used his contacts and reputation from the Vanguard days to book the acts into the Trident. Local talent was used as much as possible and there was plenty of it. In those early days Vince Guaraldi, Jean Hoffman, George Duke, Flip Nunez, Don Scaletta and Denny Zeitlin lived near enough to play on weekends. Headliners included Jon Hendricks, Sergio Mendez & Brazil 66, Bola Sete, Willie Bobo, and Bill Evans. Round about 1967 the Jazz scene was in decline. Even Miles had begun to play what would become known as “Fusion” music. Acid was still legal, and the Haight Ashbury district had become a Mecca to kids everywhere. Frank once again saw it coming and made a decision. They would re-invent not just the Trident, but innovate for restaurants and bars everywhere, for all time. ┬áJon Hendrick’s Trident Contract: 18TridentJohn HendrixsContract