Jim’s Steaks owner Ken Silver on the impact of the fire on South Street – NBC10 Philadelphia

What there is to know

  • On July 29, 2022, a fire engulfed Philadelphia’s iconic cheesesteak shop, Jim’s Steaks.
  • Jim’s Steaks owner Ken Silver is worried about the economic impact the destination restaurant’s fire could have on already struggling South Street.
  • Silver said the fire was “just another wrench thrown in the works, and we’ll have to work to put it out.”

When reflecting on the fire that tore through Jim’s Steaks on Friday, owner Ken Silver thinks of the echo effects it will have outside the South Street institution’s iconic retro black and silver facade, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

He is aware that his shop attracts both locals and tourists. In his absence — which Silver says could last up to a year or more — he worries about the economic impact on an already struggling South Street.

“I’m thinking of the surrounding businesses that are affected,” Silver, who is treasurer for the South Street Headhouse District, told PBJ.com. “I think about people not coming to South Street now because we’re not there, and how does that affect businesses around me? You think about all these things over the next few days, but that’s where we are.”

The loss of Jim’s is another blow to a shopping destination that has grown in popularity in recent years, first due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently a deadly shooting in June that prompted some business owners to consider relocating.

Nearly a week after a fire devastated one of Philadelphia’s most recognizable culinary landmarks, Silver has a more macrocosmic view. But on the day of the fire, he went through a series of emotions.

It started Friday morning when Silver received a call that the building’s air conditioning was malfunctioning and that he thought he needed to replace the batteries in the thermostat. Then a phone call at 9:09 a.m. from a manager informed him that smoke was coming out of the building. When the fire finally subsided five hours later, Silver thought the building should be demolished.

He found out Saturday that the building at 400 South St. won’t have to be demolished, as he feared, but the road to recovery could be a long one. Silver is no stranger to dealing with adversity that threatens his longtime business. As with so many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to temporary closures, hiring difficulties and halved revenue at Jim’s, which opened in 1976. Silver said the fire didn’t was “just another key thrown away”. in the works, and we’ll have to work to get it out.”

“Resilience isn’t hard,” Silver said. “We’ve been in the neighborhood for over 47 years, so it’s not like we’re considering going anywhere else.”

PBJ.com takes a look at some of the other challenges Silver faces as Jim’s Steaks reopens.

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Dino S. Williams