Way before there was a Stephen Starr and his twenty-one or so Philadelphia restaurants, there was a Starr’s Cafe. This 1917 photo of Margaret Street and Frankford Avenue shows the cafe that offered light lunch, ice cream, oysters as well as steaks and chops. Sounds like a stomach ache waiting to happen.
Night Market is a recent phenomena in Philadelphia but it isn’t the first food festival the city has ever seen. As this photo from 1983 demonstrates, the rain couldn’t dampen the crowds who attended the Philadelphia Restaurant Festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Long before Throwback Thursdays were a thing on Facebook and Twitter, we used to occasionally run a feature called Retro-raunts. But since Throwback Thursdays are the flavor of the day and PhillyHistory.org is still one of my favorite web sites, we were inspired to bring back the feature. Check out the above photo of the original Di Bruno Bros. from 1954. Look closely and you can make out the Di Bruno Bros. sign.
If you’re looking for a cheap drink try McGillin’s Olde Ale House … circa 1933. A South Philadelphia resident recently found a bit of history from the tavern dating back almost 80 years. Eddie Stanten (with McGillin’s owner Chris Mullin’s Jr, above) found a few old books almost twenty years ago, including a very old scrapbook, being left out for trash. An avid reader, Eddie saved them but ended up accidentally leaving them at an old friend’s house. Just recently Eddie got those books back and within the old scrapbook found a menu from McGillin’s from 1933. When he found out McGillin’s was still around, Eddie dropped by to show current owners.
While perusing the Library of Congress web site we stumbled upon this photo of 909 Race Street in Chinatown. We’re not sure of the date of the photo but the Dragon Gate restaurant on the left of the photo is now the just opened Sammy Chon’s K-Town BBQ.
WXPN’s The Key posted a 1983 commercial for Pat’s Chili Dogs featuring hometown rockers Cinderella. Pat’s Chili Dogs had two locations, one at Route 420 and McDade Boulevard and a second on Route 291 in Lester. As the commercial highlights, Pat’s was open 24-hours a day.
University of Pennsylvania Archives and Record Center
Though food trucks are currently taking the city by storm, they aren’t a new phenomena. Penn Current uncovered this 1900 photo of The Kiosk Quick Lunch Company, which served fish cakes, chowder, turnovers and hot chocolate to hungry students and staffers.
Turns out those windows on the Latimer side of Jose Pistola’s have been bricked over since at least 1960 when the spot was Lorelei Lounge. We wonder if the patrons of Lorelei also had to make the trek to the third floor to use the restroom.
Before it was a failed Will Smith hotel project and an eyesore of a hole in the ground, New Market was a glistening complex full of promise. One of the featured restaurants was the Rusty Scupper, a chain that in its heyday had 17 locations across the United States. The restaurant sat high above Front Street offering vistas of the Delaware River and in this 1975 photograph, an under construction I-95 and Penns Landing.