What Ever Happened to [Insert Failed Philadelphia Business]?

Five Philly classics that could—and should—rise from the dead.

Fox and Sameric Movie Theaters
I saw the first Superman, with Christopher Reeve, at the Fox on Market Street, and went to a ton of other films at the many Samerics around Center City. Now if I want to see a blockbuster downtown, I’m forced to risk my life in West Philly or on Delaware Avenue. Really? With all those boomers migrating into the city, there’s not room for a couple of good first-run movie theaters near Rittenhouse Square?

Whatever Happened to That Place?: Five Philly classics that could--and should--rise from the dead- Bookbinder's, Horn & Hardart, Fox Theater

Horn & Hardart
By the time my 82-year-old Uncle Irving introduced me to this institution, the vending/buffet chain was on its last legs. And so was he. Yet here I am, 30 years later, feasting almost weekly at the Chinese and Old Country buffets that dominate the ’burbs. The tide has turned, and a revitalized H&H would be a hit. Mmm … Salisbury steak!

As a kid, I’d take what few quarters I had and waste them away after school at this dark amusement arcade that sat on Chestnut Street. Bring it back! With a little (no check that … a lot of) security, better lighting and bright colors, a well-run chain of amusement arcades may be the answer to keeping those gangs of bored kids from roaming the streets this summer.

Okay, maybe I have a soft spot because I had my bar mitzvah there in 1978. (True fact: Bobby Rydell performed, although he wasn’t specifically hired by my parents.) But where have all the cool big-band, live-singing nightclubs gone? Bring back a Palumbo’s and watch how many stars swing by post-A.C.

If they’re closed, then who’s making the cocktail sauce I’m still buying at the Acme? C’mon, this brand is as Philly as you can get. Just because the Taxins didn’t have a clue doesn’t mean some other smart restaurateur couldn’t restore this institution to its past glory. This city cries out for a true seafood house by the river.

The Forum Adult Film Theatre
Wait, that’s still on Market Street? In the age of the Internet? Respect to the owner, whoever he is. We’ve all got something to learn from him.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Philadelphia magazine.