Even if you’ve been to Northern Liberties a hundred times, you’ve probably never ventured into Jerry’s Bar, a smoky, dingy but generally very friendly Ukrainian dive on Laurel Street, right around the corner from the Standard Tap and Piazza. Jerry’s has been around and in the same family since James Tate sat in the Mayor’s Office, and prices don’t seem to have changed all that drastically. Back in the days when I-95 was being built, workers would drop down ladders from the under-construction overpass to get to Jerry’s for a cheap lunch, though there’s no food (unless packs of Chicken In A Biskit count) these days. But you can still get a beer for $2 and shots for a buck.
But if local masonry contractor Bill Proud has his way, Jerry’s is about to go the way of the gastropub, leaving Northern Liberties without its diviest (by far) of dives, just in time for the ominous sounding $1,000-a-year pool club being built up the street.
Proud, who has worked on projects like the new 30th Street Post Office and the Chase Utley-inhabited Ayer, just entered into an agreement of sale for “in the ballpark of $600,000” to buy the building, which also includes apartments above the bar. “It basically hasn’t been touched for 40 years,” says Proud. “This is going to require some major restoration.” (I bet at $600k for 3,600 square feet with parking and a bar in one of the city’s most desirable sections.)
Proud stresses that the planning is in its infancy, but that he intends to take the dive out of Jerry’s and offer food somewhere in the Standard Tap, North 3rd, Silk City zone, which means that all the folks who currently belly up to the bar with cigarettes dangling from their mouths will have to take them outside. His daughter, Christy Proud-Bernstein, a Silk City alum, will oversee the restaurant project, which is unnamed. Jerry Lebid, the current owner, could not be reached for comment. The bar doesn’t have a phone.
Photo: Laris Kreslins at Pierogie Night, 2006 | Ted Adams