In northeast Philadelphia, Joe’s Steaks & Soda Shop will close after 73 years

The popular Joe’s Steaks & Soda Shop in northeast Philadelphia, known for decades as Chink’s before public outcry over its racist name sparked a possible rebranding, will close for good over the weekend of Labor Day.

Owner Joseph Groh, who has been involved with the restaurant for 43 years, shared the news Friday on Facebook. The company’s busy second location on Girard Avenue in Fishtown will continue to operate as normal.

“As you know, the past two years have been unprecedented for many small business owners – we have pivoted at every turn and could not have done so without the loyalty of our team members, neighbors and customers. “Groh said. “We hope you will all join us in saying goodbye to our beloved home in Wissinoming which will close on Saturday September 3rd.”

The original business at 6030 Torresdale Ave. is tucked away in an otherwise residential block. It was opened after World War II by the late Samuel Sherman and had 1950s-style decor with miniature jukeboxes in its cabins. Groh joined the company in 1979 and later purchased the store in 1999.

For years, the restaurant resisted public pressure to change its original name, an insult to people of Asian descent. The store sold T-shirts with the name written in baseball-style cursive.

When Asian-American groups learned that the restaurant’s name was a reference to a nickname given to Sherman, who was a white man, calls for change intensified and were met with backlash from advocates. company heritage.

Groh eventually decided to rename the business in 2013 before expanding to Fishtown two years later. He noted that the restaurant’s name was never intended to be associated with a racial slur, but understood that it was offensive nonetheless.

“It’s very important to me, my family and the entire staff that we no longer inadvertently alienate anyone in the Philadelphia community,” Groh said at the time.

The Torresdale Avenue restaurant has been operating with reduced hours and staff for two years. The Fishtown business is located at one of the neighborhood’s busiest intersections, Girard and Frankford Avenues. This is one of the few places dedicated to cheesesteaks in the immediate vicinity.

Groh wrote on Facebook that he is looking forward to expanding the business in Fishtown and will be spending more time with his family when the Northeast Philly store closes later this year.

“For now, I’m going to be focusing on exciting new revenue streams, like the incredibly popular Goldbelly partnership that gives us the ability to ship our ‘steaks’ all over the country – and take a day or two off every week to spend more time with my lovely grandkids,” Groh said.

Dino S. Williams