Delco Jim’s Steaks Asks Judge to Shut Down Jim’s West

Piece of advice for the Jim's West owner: Just change the name already!

Cortez Johnson outside of Jim’s West last week. / Photography by Victor Fiorillo

Editor’s note: Since we published this story, Jim’s West won their court battle against Delco Jim’s Steaks. Read the follow up to this story here.

Last week, we delivered the exciting news that the original Jim’s Steaks in West Philadelphia was reopening as Jim’s West, under new ownership. Then, we learned there was some major drama surrounding its opening. And now that drama has become a full-blown court battle.

Carl Proetto is the owner of the Jim’s Steaks location in Springfield, Delaware County. And he just asked a judge in Philadelphia to stop Jim’s West from reopening, filing for an injunction and temporary restraining order. Proetto, whose father bought the original Jim’s Steaks at 431 North 62nd Street in West Philly in 1966, named Cortez Johnson as a defendant. (That’s who we interviewed for our original story on Jim’s West.) Proetto also named two limited-liability corporations Johnson appears to be associated with: 431 North 62nd Street LLC and Jim’s Steaks West LLC.

In the complaint, Proetto points to the deed executed when Proetto and his brothers sold the West Philly property to 431 North 62nd Street LLC in March. As we noted last week, that deed includes a clause that prohibits the new owner from using the name “Jim’s” in any way. Not Jim’s Steaks. Not Jim’s West Philly Steaks. How about Good Old Jim’s Sandwiches? Nope! The name cannot include the word Jim’s.

Beyond that, the deed states that the new owner can’t sell the building without a similar clause. As far as the deed is concerned, no Jim’s or any variation can ever exist there.

When we spoke with Johnson last week, he swore he had permission from all of the relevant parties to reopen as a cheesesteak spot at 431 North 62nd Street, so long as he did so using the name Jim’s West, which directly contradicts the agreement laid out in the lease. Johnson didn’t say exactly who gave him this permission and declined to discuss the matter further when asked him if he had a written agreement granting him said permission.

Proetto includes as exhibits a copy of our original story, showing that Johnson was planning to reopen as Jim’s West. The complaint also mentions Johnson’s various social media accounts, which featured many promo images and videos for Jim’s West. On Sunday, when I checked those accounts, it appeared that all of the Jim’s West-related content had been removed. Johnson also hasn’t responded to numerous attempts for further comment.

Proetto is asking a judge to put a stop to the whole thing, accusing the defendants of breach of contract, negligence, and civil conspiracy. He’s also asking for damages in excess of $50,000. (No specific amount is provided.) The judge scheduled a court hearing on the matter for September 11th.

We’ve been monitoring social media response to these stories in West Philly and Delco Facebook groups, and, we have to say, we agree with one piece of advice we’re seeing over and over again: Just change the name. The deed doesn’t prohibit anyone from operating a cheesesteak place at 431 North 62nd Street. Johnson says he has the original cooks. And, he’s in the original building that opened as Jim’s Steaks in 1939 and continued to be a Jim’s until the late 2010s. People will get it. And assuming your cheesesteaks are actually, you know, good, they’ll come.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Jim’s West sign is still up and workers are present in the building.