A short-lived, but notable downriver venue, Nunzio’s in Lincoln Park was a disco that would host both Bookie’s era acts such as R.U.R. as well as hardcore bands from the Freezer Theatre scene such Negative Approach.
The venue been a “shot & beer” type bar until the owner’s son, Nunzio Fresta – a gay man, decided to start adding in disco and, later, live music. A small bar, which could only hit about 150 people, was able to become a draw bringing in national acts as well such as Johnny Thunders (formerly of The New York Dolls) and Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys).
The booker of live music at Nunzio’s during the era was Chato Chavez. He had no previous experience in booking clubs before Nunzio’s. Chavez said he just happened to go to Nunzio’s one night and a friend of his, “Eddie” Burgoyne of R.U.R., asked him to help book the band book the place since it was looking for a new venue.
The venue didn’t last long because by late 1980/early 1981, Chavez said, Fresta decided he wanted to move to Chicago. When Fresta left for Chicago his family took over the bar again but had no interest in music and dealing with the bands. So, it returned to “shot and beer” which it has been since then under different names and ownership. Upon his arrival in Chicago, Fresta opened several places in the early 1980s before doing well with an Italian place called Angelina Ristorante in 1988 which he ran until he died at the age of 38 in 1993. As of 2018, Angelina Ristorante is still open in Chicago.
Trivia: Nunzio’s is name checked, along with Bookie’s and Menjo’s, in The Meatmen’s song “Tooling for Anus” on their “We’re the Meatmen And You Suck!” album released in 1983.