A restaurant called Clarkville at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue in West Philly was tagged early Thursday morning with an anonymous note: “Gentri Go Home.” (They misspelled “gentry,” but you get the idea.)
The restaurant’s owner, Brendan Hartranft, told West Philly Local that he wished the painters knew what the place was all about. On Friday, Hartranft’s wife and business partner, Leigh Maida, told Philly Mag that they try to make their restaurants accessible to everyone. “I’m not Stephen Starr,” Maida said. “I’m not The Man. I’m in debt.”
So, Maida said, it was a morale boost that Clarkville had a busy night last night after she personally spent time buffing paint off the walls. Neighbors apparently came out in droves with words of support.
“It’s sad to me that some people don’t get it, but it’s encouraging to know that a lot of people do,” Maida said.
Of course, it’s true that the neighborhood around 43rd and Baltimore is pretty well gentrified. Clarkville itself used to be Best House, a bastion of cheap forties and pizza for years. A Pew study released last week found that two nearby neighborhoods in West Philly had experienced gentrification in the last 15 years, and that’s using a pretty rigorous definition. It’s one of only a few areas that has gentrified in Philadelphia, according to Pew, while much more of the city is stuck in deep poverty.
So, in a sense, gentrifiers at 43rd and Baltimore are already home.
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