Surprise! Original Jim’s Steaks in West Philly Reopening This Weekend
Talk about your unexpected cheesesteak news of the week.
Editor’s note: Since we published this story, Jim’s Steaks in Delco reached out to tell Philly Mag they intend to take Jim’s West to court. Read the follow up to this story here.
On Monday, we learned that the Jim’s Steaks on South Street, which closed in 2022 after a devastating fire, has plans to reopen in late October. But here’s one bit of cheesesteak news nobody saw coming. The original Jim’s Steaks in West Philly — the OG — is about to reopen as Jim’s West.
The Jim’s Steaks in West Philly opened at 431 North 62nd Street way, way back in 1939. That was during the decade in which the patriarch of Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly invented the sandwich that would become Philly’s most famous and hotly debated food product.
William Proetto and his brother bought the West Philly location from the original owners in 1966. Proetto went on to open the location on South Street. Then he opened another in Northeast Philly, which closed in 2017. His family’s last effort was the still-open Jim’s Steaks in Delco, which they opened in 2009. Proetto died two years later. (You can read more from Proetto himself in the oral history of the cheesesteak I wrote several years back.) As for the Jim’s Steaks in West Philly, its more recent history is a little murky. It closed and reopened; it’s hard to tell how many times. But it’s been closed continuously since at least 2019.
Now, Cortez Johnson, a Delco filmmaker who grew up right around the corner from the Jim’s in West Philly and readily admits to having zero experience in the restaurant business, says he’s reopening as Jim’s West, with some unnamed partners. He bought the building from the sons of Proetto earlier this year and received his food prep permit from the Department of Licenses & Inspections in August. On Monday, workers hung the Jim’s West sign. Johnson says he’s planning for a soft opening this weekend and a grand opening the following weekend.
“We’ve got the old cooks,” says Johnson. “And we are going to preserve the legacy of the original Jim’s Steaks as well as create a new one. I grew up here. I ate these steaks all the time. And I’m going to bring all of that action back to the neighborhood. We are ready to go. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.”
Johnson says he expects his spot to be open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. He’ll serve the steaks on Amoroso rolls. And the menu is set to also include hoagies and burgers.
A representative of one of the other Jim’s who declined to be named for this article said he’s not so sure Johnson has the right to open under the name Jim’s, going on to suggest lawyers might get involved. But Cortez insists he spoke with the relevant parties and that they agreed he could reopen so long as he does so under the name Jim’s West. A quick search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database indicates that while there is an active trademark on the phrase “Jim’s South Street,” all other trademarks for “Jim’s Steaks” (there were three) are no longer active.
Johnson elaborated on the legal situation a bit, talking about expired non-compete clauses and the like. But we think it’s best to let the lawyers sort all that out and concentrate on what’s really important: How are the cheesesteaks? We’ll know soon enough.