Signs of Change: Passyunk Avenue Gets an Organic Food Market

Volta Market opens where a beloved family doctor once practiced.

passyunk avenue doctor

Google Street View capture from 2011 shows the doctor’s office when it sported his nameplate.

The soap and bath products company Volta Organics has opened a bricks-and-mortar location at 1439 Passyunk Avenue. Be Well Philly reports that the new store will sell groceries and “once she gets Health Department clearance, Volta hopes to open a take-out tea and tonic bar inside the store, where you can get tea blends to go and quick shots, like apple cider vinegar, which has detoxing properties.

It’s another sign of change in that area. The location used to be the office of family doctor Julius Mingroni, who was the subject of a 1986 feature by Michael Capuzzo in the Inquirer. Capuzzo wrote:

Mingroni is the doctor for the whole neighborhood in South Philadelphia where he grew up. He is the doctor for about 5,000 patients – aunts and cousins, friends and high school chums – and sometimes it seems that 5,000 hearts, 5,000 sets of hands are reaching out to him.

He visits the sick in four hospitals and nursing homes each morning. He keeps regular office hours for nine hours a day, working seven days a week, until 10 or 11 at night. He sees anyone who knocks after hours, and afterward he goes on house calls until 3, 4 and 5 in the morning. Mingroni lives by a simple motto. “I cannot say no.”

The article, titled “His Finger Is On The Pulse Of S. Phila.,” reveals a very different neighborhood, one that recent transplants might not even recognize:

“Hey, Doc!” the Pretzel Man cries into the rain-smelling morning air. Often on humid days, the doctor barks a command in Italian to a kid on a corner, and the kid runs a lemon ice to his car, but not today.

Each day he passes the church where he was an altar boy; the corner drugstore where he was the soda jerk; Roma Pharmacy, where he was once the pharmacist. Each day he passes Sigel Street, where he grew up, and where he still has dinner with his 78-year-old mother almost every night in the tiny rowhouse at number 915.

All around him now as his Honda rolls through the streets, Mingroni’s neighborhood is awakening. Peddlers are putting out their peppers, tomatoes and fresh chickens.

Mingroni, who seldom has time for lunch, is relaxing over a salad at Big Ralph’s Saloon across the street from his office. His waiting room has been packed for four hours now.

Mingroni drives down Passyunk, past Roma Pharmacy, Pizzoria Ristorante, Ozzie’s Cleaners, past Frankie’s Italiano Seafood Cocktail Lounge and La Riveriera Alternations & Pressing, where Tasker and Cross and Passyunk and 11th all pour into the tiny square in the heart of his neighborhood…

“Hey, Doc,” an young man waves from the middle of the square.

“Hey, Gabe, how ya feelin?”

“Not so good, Doc.”

“Use the side door, about 10 o’clock.”

Wellness-Focused Volta Market Sets Up Shop on East Passyunk [Be Well Philly]
His Finger Is On The Pulse Of S. Phila. [Inquirer]