The Pet Shop in “Rocky” Just Got Demolished

rocky pet shop

In Philly, we tend to destroy the buildings we treasure – such was the case with the historic Boyd Theater in Center City and such will likely be the case with Jewelers Row (assuming Toll goes ahead with the project).

And now, a lesser-known but just as lovable site has seen its last day: the Kensington storefront that doubled as Adrian’s pet shop in “Rocky” has been demolished. It’s a sad day for Rocky fans, who were apparently dumpster diving in their desperation to hold on to a piece of the movie setting forever.

Rocky tour guide Ben Caplan realized the store was being demolished mid-tour yesterday.

“I was getting ready to tell these people, ‘Well, hey, across the street is the –,’ and then I looked over and saw a big bulldozer,” Caplan told Philly.com.

You’ll remember the pet shop as the place where Rocky met his wife, Adrian, and bought his dog, Butkus. It’s been vacant for some time, but for many years, the store was a real Kensington pet shop called J&M Tropical Fish, owned and named after Joe Marks and his father, Morris Marks, who opened the shop in 1963.

Marks still owns the two turtles that Rocky bought in the movie – Cuff and Link – but he closed the shop in 2003, a few years after his father died, and sold the building in 2011.

“I think it’s sad to see it go and sad that it was in the state it was in,” Marks, 71, said. “I think sometimes the best aspirations in life don’t come true sometimes. I had visions and thoughts of a Rocky museum type of idea for this to work, but that’s just things in my mind. I have a lot of memories of it.”

Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo first talked to Marks last year for the magazine’s oral history of the Rocky movies. Marks spoke about how the film crew first reached out to him in 1975, and how he got to “meet Hollywood,” as he said, including Sylvester Stallone, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, Tommy Morrison and more.

“The first time they filmed, I didn’t know Sylvester Stallone from the man on the moon,” Marks said by phone today. “He was young, and kind of stoic, to a point. We didn’t talk much. The next time they came to look at the store [to film the second movie] it wasn’t in a regular car –they came in a limousine.”

Marks, who’s lived in Kensington for the majority of his life, said he wished the site would’ve been preserved.

“I feel that the effect the movie had on Philadelphia … I think that maybe there should’ve been more city interest in actually helping preserve sites,” Marks said. “I’m not talking about street-corner sites, but I know that the movie is an inspiration to a lot of generations that have come into being.

“It showed that anything is possible in America,” he added. “It was a great storyline, a fantastic storyline. It put Philadelphia on the map. Even though we’re not in the greatest part of the city, they could’ve looked at that to a point.”

Kensington is home to several other film locations, like the Lucky 7 Tavern and Mighty Micks Gym (which Marks’s uncle owned at the time of filming). All three locations are detailed in the filming location guide on TotalRocky.com (though the pet shop info has yet to be updated).

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How Drug Busts in Kensington Could Make Things Even Worse

Philadelphia police drug bust press conference

Photos via @PhillyPolice

The police laid the drugs, the money, and the guns on the table. The cameras rolled. And another victory in the drug war was declared.

After a string of at least 35 polydrug overdose deaths earlier this month, the cops moved in. From December 14th to 16th, Philadelphia police made 176 arrests in the East Detective Division, which includes Feltonville, Hunting Park, Juniata, Kensington, Port Richmond, and other parts of North Philly. At a press conference on the 20th, they showed off 21 guns, almost $50,000 in cash, and what the department said was $200,000 worth of heroin and other drugs. Read more »

A Happy Hour Where You Might Learn Something

Martha | Photo by Ted Nghiem

Martha | Photo by Ted Nghiem

Martha Mondays is the alliterative title to the educational happy hour that happens at Kensington’s Martha (#14 on this year’s 50 Best Bars list). Starting at 5 p.m., these happy hours typically showcase a local, beer, wine, spirit or artisan producer that shows up elsewhere on Martha’s menu.

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Federal Distilling Room Now Open in Kensington

Matthew and Bryan Quigley with partner Clement Pappas | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Matthew and Bryan Quigley with partner Clement Pappas | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood becomes more of a destination for distilling fans with the opening of the Federal Distilling Room at 1700 North Hancock Street. The bar connects to Federal Distilling’s distillery and serves the distillery’s flagship Stateside Vodka in addition to a wide variety of other spirits, wine and beer.

Founders Matt and Bryan Quigley have gone with a full bar over just a tasting room in order to cater to a wider audience. Even three years in, the brothers haven’t been able to convert their mother from wine to vodka.

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New Drinks and Hours at Saint Benjamin’s Tap Room

Saint Benjamin Brewing's Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room pre-opening | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is upping their game (and their selection at the Tap Room).

The  Saint Benjamin’s Tap Room will now offering a full cocktail menu. All spirits will be sourced locally, and they will also be serving local wines and mead too. If you haven’t been keeping up, craft distilling is booming and here in Philly we have some of the very best.

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Cops: “Vicious” Predator Eyed in Four Kensington Attacks

Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann (left) says the man shown on surveillance footage has attacked three women and possibly killed a fourth in Kensington.

Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann (left) says the man shown on surveillance footage is wanted for questioning in the attacks of three women and the murder of a fourth in Kensington.

Did the gruesome stabbings and rapes start in April, or earlier? Is he getting more comfortable, the butcher who preys on prostitutes in Kensington, bold enough to strike twice in the same day?

These are among the questions gnawing at detectives who are trying to track down a madman before he strikes again.

Police on Thursday re-released surveillance footage of a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a female prostitute on Jasper Street near Buckius on July 12th — after he beat and choked her unconscious — in an attempt to hopefully garner enough information to identify him.

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Kensington Looks for Hope After Brutal Attacks on Prostitutes

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

A tiny pink sign sits on the ground at the edge of an empty lot in Kensington, calling out a reassuring message from the dirt and the grass: “GOD IS LOVE.” A wisp of yellow crime scene tape intrudes on that thought, drooping in the humid air from a cyclone fence. This is where a madman butchered Rickie Morgan.

The 35-year-old woman was bludgeoned with a brick and fatally stabbed late Saturday on Cumberland Street near Jasper. She tried to escape, running naked for a block until she collapsed from her injuries. The scene was every bit as gruesome as it sounds. “She was bloody from head to toe,” a police captain told NBC 10 that night.

Morgan was a prostitute. She was also a mother, according to her friends, and an avid reader who liked to talk about theology and the nature of the universe—the way life worked, or didn’t. Those who were close to her will gather for a vigil at 2 p.m. today in Kensington. They’ll mourn, but they’ll also be on high alert. Investigators believe the man who killed Morgan might have also been involved in other recent violent attacks of prostitutes in the area. Read more »

An Axe-Throwing Club Is Coming to Kensington

A near-bullseye throw at Urban Axes

My almost bullseye at the future site of Urban Axes in Kensington.

I must look stupid.

I have this fear a lot, but this time I’m sure of it: My left foot is forward, and my weight is all on my back foot. My hands are in front of me, and I’m trying to remember to keep my wrists at a 90-degree angle. Oh, and I’m holding a 1.5-pound axe. I pull my hands back behind my head, thrust them forward and release.

Thunk. The axe handle hits the wooden board 10 feet in front of me, then bounces harmlessly to the floor. “Maybe you actually need to move up,” my instructor says. “And keep those wrists straight!” Despite my errors, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

I’m at Urban Axes, the new axe-throwing space in Kensington a few blocks from the York-Dauphin El stop in the former Sazz Vintage warehouse. My instructor is Lily Cope, the former executive director at Cook who took a job as “axe master general” at Urban Axes earlier this year.

Four friends — two in Philly, two in Toronto — founded Urban Axes and plan to open in late July or early August, if the place gets through zoning. (It needs to switch from industrial to commercial zoning.) When it gets going, Urban Axes will hold private events and run leagues. Through it all, an Urban Axes team member will offer tips and make sure everything is running smoothly and safely.

Axe-throwing has no doubt been done in the woods for centuries, but the sport version of it traces its roots to Toronto. As Cope tells it, the founders were inspired by the dozen or so axe-throwing clubs in the Canadian city. They played the sport up north and decided Philadelphia would be the best spot for what they say is the first one in the United States. Read more »

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