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Originally a Filipino restaurant and club owned by the late Ness Aquino, it featured many Filipino celebrities, including Amapola (aka Amapola Cabase). Aquino and Amapola also co-hosted a weekly television program, The Amapola Presents Show on KEMO TV Channel 20.
During the late 1970s, Jerry Paulsen was the first promoter of bands to appear at the Mab on a regular basis. I booked them on Mondays and Tuesdays to begin with so I could showcase the bands that I featured in Psyclone mag to existing record exec's. The scene became so popular that I was soon booking 2 bands a night 7 days a week. Bay Area punk and new wave bands performed there, and it was an important touring stop for bands from beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. Among the local bands that performed regularly at the Fab Mab were the Avengers, Dead Kennedys, The Nuns, Crime, Dils, Ramones, Dictators, Blondie and so many other bands that made the Mab an immediate success. After I left, Dirksen, the pope of punk, and MC grandiose, booked The Dead Boys, Nico, Devo, X, The Police, The Go-Go's, Motorhead, Sun Ra and his Arkestra, Patti Smith and so many other great talents that turned Ness's small club into one of the most popular music venues on the West coast Comedians such as Whoopi Goldberg also made early appearances at the venue.
Dirk Dirksen had a unique style as emcee, deliberately baiting and trading insults with audience and band members, which had the effect of raising the energy of audience and performers alike. Dirksen's abrasive persona (which was largely a performance) was a central part of the atmosphere of the Mabuhay. So great was his contribution and influence that he was sometimes referred to as the "poor man's Bill Graham." The alley located next to The Mab is named for him. The Mab was in the "basement /lower level " of the 435 Broadway building, which also housed the On Broadway Theater, known in 1984-1985 as "Rock On Broadway".
The Mabuhay Gardens closed in 1986.
The building subsequently housed a nightclub called The Velvet Lounge. The venue was again opened in September 2007 under the name Club 443.
Currently, Fame Venue operates at 443 Broadway, which is used for conferences, concerts, catering and other events. 
In popular culture
The Mabuhay Gardens featured in a chapter from Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad (Pulitzer 2011). This chapter, "Ask Me if I Care," was also published in the March 8, 2010 issue of the New Yorker.
- "Amapola's 'Super Special'". Philippine News. September 13–19, 1976.
- Kamps, Garrett (August 27, 2003). "OK Then". SF Weekly.
- Selvin, Joel (November 22, 2006). "Dirk Dirksen – 'pope of punk' amused, insulted S.F. crowds". San Francisco Chronicle.