Nightmarish Family Drama At 12 Steps Down

About a week ago, someone called our attention to a curious message that appears on the website for 12 Steps Down, the smoky neighborhood bar at the corner of 9th and Christian streets: As for the 12 Steps Down facebook page that was stolen by one 50% owner, from the 50% owner who created it, and posted most of it’s content until it was, I would treat it’s accuracy, and what is posted on it, with that in mind… WORD TO THE WISE… DON’T EVER MAKE ANYONE ELSE ONE OF THE ADMINISTRATORS OF YOUR FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGES…

Uh oh. Sounds like trouble.

The author of that message (one which also includes an offer to sell 50 percent of the business for $250,000), is Fred Renzulli, who bought 12 Steps Down back in 2002 with his younger sister, Danielle Renzulli. (Technically, it’s Fred’s wife that owns his shares because, as Fred explains it, a previous drug conviction precluded him from getting a liquor license expeditiously.)

Meanwhile, there’s this post on the bar’s Facebook page, presumably controlled by Danielle: “The domain no longer has up-to-date or accurate info about 12 Steps Down Bar at 9th & Christian. Please access the link above to be in the know or right here on Facebook. Thank you, 12 Steps Down Management”.

Both Fred and Danielle bartended at Kathleen’s, the predecessor to 12 Steps, and decided to give the saloon business a try when that bar’s namesake couldn’t swing it. But according to Fred, their relationship soured pretty quickly after forming the business, he says because of a disagreement over how much time and energy Danielle was (or wasn’t) putting into the business. Danielle doesn’t say anything; she chose not to comment.

On December 31, 2010, Danielle accused Fred of assaulting her at the bar and later obtained a protection from abuse order preventing him from going there for a period of three years. Fred denies ever hitting his sister. He is also prohibited from contacting or harassing Danielle.

In April, Fred and his wife, Kristin, filed a lawsuit against Danielle, seeking money they claim the business owes them and calling for the dissolution of 12 Steps Down, LLC and the equitable distribution of assets among the shareholders. In August, Kristin Renzulli went to 12 Steps Down and removed the liquor license from the wall, leading a judge to order her to return it and to stay away from the bar until further notice.

I asked Fred Renzulli what his mother thinks of all this fighting between her children. His response? “Oh, her… She’s suing me,” he replied matter-of-factly. In March, Geraldine Renzulli sued son Fred over a property he owns on Passyunk Avenue. Geraldine is also part of the 12 Steps dispute. According to the lawsuit, Geraldine has served as the bar’s bookkeeper over the years, and Fred and Kirstin have a lot of questions about those books. Fred says that Danielle has their mom under her thumb because… well, let’s just say that, according to Fred, Danielle has some dirt on their mom that would be more appropriately aired on the Jerry Springer Show.

“I just want out of this,” says Fred. “I just want to get on with my life.”

Good luck, Fred. The next chapter in this saga comes this Thursday, when Fred must go before a Family Court judge for allegedly violating the protection from abuse order. Danielle claims that Fred indirectly harassed her via his statements on the bar’s website. If the judge agrees with Danielle, Fred could find himself in jail before the weekend.

Kinda gives you that warm, holiday feeling, eh?

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  • GrowlerKing

    this bar blows. NEXT…

  • YoYo

    Well, all of this might explain the weird vibe I always got in that place. I have always wanted to like it, but there always seemed to be something off about it. Now I know!

  • TC

    This bar is a complete dive. Its too bad, a nicer place would do great there with all the excellent places to eat.

  • omg

    Oh my god, outrageous stuff !!! Get it together folks, it’s just a bar and life is too short for this type drama

  • bill

    This is a one sided story of lies, I know this bar and family and that whole story is untrue, shame on you for writing such crap.

  • @ Bill: Clearly the whole story is not untrue. Most of it is obviously true through observation and court records. Can you be more specific?

  • Doug

    Bill sounds like he objects to Fred expressing his views, but this article does not take sides one way or another and is very accurate, unfortunately.

  • Who Cares

    I think the real point here is that this article is obviously biased because one party has chosen not to comment. Obviously Fred and Danielle both have their sides of the story and when you write an article with quotes from only one source, you’re only conveying that person’s point of view.

    All this article has done is defamed a bar and potentially lost them what little business they do get. Why? Because some “journalist” needed a story to write.


  • disgusted

    Why am I disgusted? Because I saw this whole thing unfold from 9 years ago. A family divided over a business that was built from the ground up. A bar 9 years ago with a crowd of about 4-8 person 50+ year old South Philly guys drinking was turned into a crowded local/yuppie/artsy etc…… crowd. A brother and sister who were some what down on their luck when they went into this venture now each own half of a thriving business. Unfortunately all will be lost at the rate this thing is going. Cousins who will grow up not speaking to each other nor some will not speak to their grand parents. Bill, I don’t see any lies in the story. What I see is a very sad reality.

  • bill

    I too have been there since the begining and on the nite in question and yes Fred did hit his sister and drag her around the bar by her hair and Fred also assulted his father that same nite btw a man dying of colon cancer and now he is making horrible comments about his mother who works her butt off at that bar for her children and has been heart broken over this. I know that Danielle is not allowed to speak about any of this until court is over but I think it’s about time some one did. The only problem this bar and family has is FRED.

  • Genius

    Here’s a crazy idea, buy Fred out at a fair price (that is probably not $250,000 of couse), get his agreement to stay out of the bar, and move on with your lives. Stop the pound of flesh shit.

  • Disgusted

    I was not there on the night in question but I have to ask a couple of questions. 1. why did the cops not cuff him and throw him in jail that night? 2. why did you all allow him to do this (if he did in fact do this)? Once again I was not there that night. I kind of agree with Genius. One of them should buy the other one out and everyone can live happily ever after. They both have their faults and I could go soooooooo much deeper into the good,bad and ugly with both of them (notice how I said BOTH of them) but I wont. I really do wish you and everyone else knew the WHOLE true story. Oh well :(

    Victor should contact Bill and I to do a part 2 of this story.

  • Tiffany Gween

    What about the cute cook with the diaper butt? Hope he’s going to be ok.

  • “insider”

    This is not about a bar,a family,money,ect.This is about a man assaulting a woman. You want a story Victor? Maybe you should ask Freddie about the police report he had altered,his cop friends at 11th wharton who lied for him or the municipal court judge he bought. You want to know why he wasn’t locked up. Philadelphia coruption old news! Danielle is seeking justice not revenge.Safty and sanity from a man who has done nothing but harass and torment her for 11 months. she’s even been followed home in the middle of the night. He is sick and dangerous. Freddy is a menace to society and needs to be committed. Do you think Danielle is the frist person he’s assaulted in that bar. Let’s talk about the one armed guy for a second….And the lawsuit with his mother, he is stealing her house from her. A house she let him put in his name so he could have collateral for an investment.Fred is scum of the earth.What kind of man would try to kick their MOTHER to the street tell this woman has three kids why would “THIS LADY” sign it to only one of them .THINK ABOUT THAT.

  • Ha

    Hey “Insider” is right, let’s kill him!

    No, not really.

    Some of these comments are making everything about this article seem all the more accurate.

  • Muggs


    He got the one armed man from The Fugitive? Yay!

  • It’s a shame how this will end and all once on FRED greed and control. Fred should post his own justice record up on 12 steps down as he the one who controls the site… it’s ashamed that Fred sister took him in when he was down and out and just getting out of JAIL for selling cocaine to a FED!!! His sister gave him a job at her bar and trusted him with a partnership that Fred wanted control as he always tried to get growing up from being spoiled as a child. Fred had a great life growing up he had whatever he wanted he got and just GREED does it all.

  • Ann2323

    The bar sucks anyway- it became a hipster hell, no thanks.