Without question Victor Fontana, was one of THE men about town in the ’70s, ’80s and into the ’90s. Like no other.
Victor owned and operated so many clubs and restaurants it would take nearly forever to name them all. By far the most famous was his 1970s Westport area smash hit Fanny’s. It was a nightclub, restaurant and lounge like no other in our city. It was the talk of the town.
The food was gourmet Italian / excellent and every big name in town called for a reservation behind those big darkened windows that separated the upscale restaurant from the dance floor.
Disco was king and the crowds were upscale with people from the Plaza and Johnson County.
I met Victor at his packed hot spot Walter Mitty’s in the early 70′s. Just off the Plaza at 50th and Main it was the dance club and the spot. It was right next to next to Butch Civella‘s club Mothers.
Mothers had been THE dance club before Walter Mitty’s landed. Between the two clubs, they dominated the upscale, late night action in our town. If you were between 21 and 40 these were your haunts.
Fontana was a tall, handsome guy with movie star good looks.
We bumped heads once because they were throwing out a drunk friend of mine from Mitty’s. Stupid me got in the middle of it and was placed outside the club by about three large doormen. Lesson learned.
Vic and I later became friendly when he would stop for lunch at Stanford and Sons before going to work at Fanny’s.
I was always impressed with Victor. One time at Fanny’s he made a Hollywood entrance pulling up to the Club in a wild car dressed to the nines.
And I thought to myself, one day I wanna be THAT GUY.
Years later I was.
Victor loved his son Frank.
The two of them had another in spot years later with THE EDGE.
It was the talk of the nightlife scene here and Monday nights were “Industry Nights,” meaning drinks for a buck and three bucks to get in for people in the bar biz. Oh, and a line down the street.
The Edge was always packed and huge. The place maybe held nearly 800 people. I used to go there with Chiefs players like tight end Mike Dyal and linebacker Tracy Rogers. They had a uni-sex bathroom with mirrors that you would swear had a naked gal watching you wash your hands. Maybe it was an optical illusion – but who knew who cared – it was fun.
Sadly a troubled young man who couldn’t gain entrance to the club due to inappropriate clothing fired a shot into the club hitting and killing Victor’s son Frank.
I don’t think Victor ever quite recovered from that tragic event.
Later he opened a restaurant on the Plaza named for his son “Frankie’s.”
That spot would eventually become Blonde, the Plaza’s last dance club.
Yes, Victor Fontana was one of the guys who made Kansas City a fun, hot spot from the late 60′s through the early 2000′s.
He’ll be sorely missed.
I think its fair to call the man a legend in Kansas City’s Entertainment history.