Northern Liberties’ Diviest Dive Bar To Close

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

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  • Michael G

    Good old Jerry’s to become a gastropub…LOL…I can’t imagine the cleanup job there. Dirt that old might need to be cleaned by anthropolgists though. This place was almost as funny as the old barbers in the basement of the Sylvania House(Arts Condo now) that had a hand wriiten sign that read”We will now be closed Saturdays starting July 24th 1986″ and that sign was still up just before they closed in 2006. Anyway, it’s sad to see a place that unique close but the only thing certain in life is change.

  • Tracy

    That’s $1,000 a SEASON, not a year

  • bonzombiekitty

    I had always heard rumors about this bar, and I swear I must have gone by it dozens of times, but I swear I’ve never noticed it.

  • This might be the saddest story I’ve heard all day. That’s a little dramatic, but Jerry, he who kissed me goodbye on my last visit, and his bar and grand jukebox are the kind of places with real character and real people are evaporating. I’ll miss the pierogi nights and cheap drinks. Has it closed or is there time for one last drink?

  • Snake

    The city, and that neighborhood especially, certainly needs another ‘gastropub’.

    *rolls eyes*

  • DickyDunn

    What a sad, sad commentary. Another Philadelphia tradition edged out of business thanks to big business. Can’t say I don’t blame Jerry, who surely will be living the sweet life he deserves in sunny South Florida.

    Had some great nights there with the beautiful Linda behind the bar. A real gem she is, giving her take on life and love.

    Who could forget the time I made out with a broad at the bar and then fingerblasted her outside? Even better was the fact that I found out later that she was a friend of my ex and that we had met before.. Oh glory, days.

    Speaking of which, parking – which already is tough enough in the winter – will now be an even bigger abortion with the new pool club across the way. Here’s hoping they have valet parking.

  • Taco

    Why are they going to follow the model of three businesses that already exist? We already have fancy bars with fancy food. We don’t need another one.

  • XM

    I am so ok with this. Great place to visit–if you don’t live near it.

  • Zeke

    The last thing that Jerry’s needs to turn into is anything resembling Silk City. Another place that took a nosedive for the worse after new ownership.

  • MitchDeighan

    Just over twenty years ago when I was spearheading one idea after another, to advance Northern Liberties (culminating in Liberty Lands), Jerry Lebid was approached with the intention to preserve an ancient structure he owned, just a few feet from his “dive”. The site is likely now part of the “parking area”. The building was the Northern Liberties twin to Society Hill’s “Man Full of Trouble Tavern”. A sculptural half-gambrel-roofed flemish bond brick structure that so many hoped would be saved. Immediately (the next day) after Jerry was approached with the idea of him donating it for a tax write-off, the romantic old building was taken down, in the rain, brick by brick. A little known foot-note to the long and winding road of Northern Liberties resurrection. So nice to hear Jerry gave someone a kiss. Very touching.

  • Commoner

    I’m assuming Bill Proud’s daughter will me managing the place. I give it 4 months top.

    • you suck

      thats nice, thanks!

  • Jordan

    I’m very saddened by this. Even after having moved away from Philly 3 years ago, I still talk about Jerry’s Bar as my favorite bar of all time.

    This place is truly a hole in the wall and absolutely full of character. You could walk in on any night and have a drink with Jerry. On you’re way out the door on a Saturday night he’d shout after you “See ya’s in church!”

    I have so many great memories of bringing my friends in for cheap Yuenglings and $1 shots of “Gasoline.” On most nights there’d be 2 or 3 people sitting at the bar and if you showed up with a group of 5-6 people it was like having a bar (and a great jukebox) to yourselves. Spent many a birthday there and I’ll never forget the night they let me behind the bar to pour drinks.

    Thanks Jerry for all the great times. See ya’s in church.

  • JB

    Well that sucks. Another one bites the dust. We need MORE dive bars not less. As for the other place up the street, 1000 reasons not to go. I wish more people would preserve the old places and help keep some good old time character around. Cheers

  • Lou


  • Rob Lindsay (Grandpop)

    I’m not a city guy, so the first time I walked into Jerry’s this past summer, I meet Jerry and some of the locals. I have been to some of the other new bars, but for me Jerry’s is a bar that you could walk in, have a beer and talk to anyone and feel at home.

    Now I know you have to be able to over look the shape of the building and the the decor, but that’s not what makes a great corner bar. It’s the feel of the place, the people that run it. I know the area is up and coming but you have lots of new and trendy bars that are very nice.

    What you will be looking for is something different and Jerry’s is that. I know I will miss it and I believe the locals will also. If you haven’t been, go before it’s gone.
    Thank You Jerry
    PS. let us know when the going away party will be.

  • Sibyl

    I live right on Laurel next to Jerry’s. I welcome a new place but I am really concerned about the potential noise. Jerry’s get some traffic and can create some noise but nothing to really worry about. I hope the new place is great but doesn’t ruin a great quite street. And I am pretty sure those “Please Respect our Neighbors” sign in bars don’t work.

  • Rob

    This is the saddest news I’ve heard in a long time. Good by to Jerry, Ole, Pee-wee, Gina, Mr. Potato head, Scatchy, and of course, Tabby.