Ribeltad Vorden: Bernal’s Most Notorious Spelling Mistake

Arrow Indicates Possible Bullet Hole

Arrow indicates possible bullet hole from earlier shenanigans at Precita and Folsom

In 1996 when Brady and I moved to an apartment on the 3200 block of Folsom street just up from Precita Park, my brother-in-law immediately said we were right across the street from an old hang-out from his biker days.  I heard him call it was, “The Ripple Tap.”  As an armchair historian, I did all I could to determine anything about this bar which sat at the location of today’s Caffe Cozzolino. (TIP: order the pesto chicken pizza to pick up.)

My search was fruitless. I searched the Internet, old phone books, and city directories, I asked every old-timer I could find, and I came up with nothing about The Ripple Tap.  All I knew was that my brother-in-law and sister and their motorcycle-enthusiast friends used to start their evenings there back in the day, and that many shenanigans ensued.

Then about 5 years ago, while working with Vicky Walker of the Bernal History Project, I discovered a wonderful history written by longtime Bernal Resident Jerry Schimmel who shed some light on this elusive story:

Around 1968 when Peter Cancilla (of Cancilla’s Market) acquired the property across the way at 300 Precita Avenue, among the odds and ends he acquired was a medium-sized cloth or banner bearing an applique version of the Colombia national arms.

The amusing thing was its completely garbled motto, apparently perpetrated by a Japanese seamstress. The normal spelling of the Colombian Spanish motto is Libertad y Orden (Liberty and Order) which somehow became Ribeltad Vorden… the bungled phrase inspired the name of his new watering hole.

Ribeltad Vorden banner

The original banner of the Ribeltad Vorden Doyle McGowan now has the framed cloth on his apartment wall after tracking it down through a circuitous trail of ownerships. Courtesy of Jerry Schimmel/Bernal History Project

Thus all became clear, sort of. Jerry’s account of life at the Ribeltad jibed exactly with my sister’s stories, right down to the shenanigans. And now we know the real name of the place, sort of.

Read Jerry Schimmel’s full story of the Ribeltad Vorden at the Bernal History Project

11 thoughts on “Ribeltad Vorden: Bernal’s Most Notorious Spelling Mistake

  1. I remember this place. It was one of the few bars that we could get into as teenagers. I remember going Ribeltad Vorden (known mostly as just Ribeltad). Heard a great young band there one night. Thanks for the article. I was trying to recall the name of the place just the other night. When I saw this article the light went on. Good times in Bernal back then.

  2. I live a couple buildings up from Cozzolino on Folsom, I was born in Colombia and I have a tattoo of that very coat of arms. Kind of a weird coincidence.

  3. This “Ribeltadvorden” restaurant sounds like the second phase of the original the was opened much earlier. here’s my little story about that one.

    Ribeltad Vorden

    Ribeltad Vorden is the name of a wonderful little San Francisco restaurant serving excellent, lovingly cooked Central American food as a specialty. The restaurant’s name came about in a rather unusual way.

    By this time, I’ve forgotten exactly which banana republic is was but in the tradition of Betsey Ross sewing the first American flag, Estancita Gonzaglio Ramirez, a local seamstress, was chosen to make a large, elaborate flag for the new republic and she did so with flying colors.

    Her highly intellectual cousin, Alberto Gotem Restrepo, the man chosen to oversee the equitable redistribution of the country’s wealth, had suggested to the governing committee that “Liberty and Justice” would be a fitting motto to sew across the flag and that it would definitely be more respected and understood internationally if the motto were in Latin rather than Spanish. Estancita’s little nephew, Juan Carlos Ramirez, said that his grandfather had studied Latin and when awakened from his afternoon siesta, the grandfather responded that he couldn’t be completely certain but he was pretty sure of the proper translation.

    Since time was of the essence, the committee readily agreed without exception and thus came about the title of this story.

    Unfortunately for the populace, The United Fruit Corporation of America soon lobbied Congress to send in the US Marines to disqualify the new republic and put in a puppet government controlled, in effect, by The United Fruit Company. Estancita, along with the now defunct, democratically elected government officials, barely escaped with her life and, in Estancita’s case, also the new flag that had fluttered only momentarily above the heads of the newly freed peasants.

    Estancita, being practical as well as an excellent cook, adapted the flag’s motto as the name of her tiny Portrero Hill restaurant and that very flag may still be seen pinned to the wall above the heads of the small but loyal group of diners who regularly patronize Ribeltad Vorden.

    __Muldoon Elder February 28, 1963

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  5. Ribeltad Vorden. Fun and rowdy place!
    Cozzolino’s is where I had dinner with Bono and The Edge of the U2, in a private dinner for 16 or so people. I believe there is still a photo on Cozzolino’s wall of that time. Haven’t been in there for a while . . . Looking forward to Bernal Supper Club.

  6. It isn’t the American idol tryouts, don’t stand
    there singing for 20 minutes, get accomplished what you went in there for.

  7. I lived up the hill from Cancilla’s market in the summer of1967, and Pete Cancilla told me about his plans. He planned to create a bar, and call it “Ribeltad Vorden” because of this banner from Colombia he had acquired with the ludicrous misspelling. I’m pretty sure he acquired it when he himself was in the Navy.

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