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Jim’s Steaks South Street

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Iconic Philly Cheesesteak Shop, Jim’s Steaks South St. Catches Fire

A fast-moving fire damaged one of Philadelphias best-known cheesesteak shops early Friday, but authorities say no injuries were reported.

Dozens of firefighters and other emergency responders went to Jims Steaks on South Street when the fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. Smoke could be seen pouring from the building, but officials said all the employees were able to safely evacuate the structure.

It wasnt immediately known how many people were in the building when the fire broke out.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Jims Steaks opened its original location in Philadelphia in 1939. The South Street location opened in 1976.

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The Corner Of Fourth And South Streets Friday Evening After Firefighters Doused The Blaze Inside Jim’s Steaks

A two-alarm blaze Friday morning at Jims South St. that drew over a hundred firefighters left the Philadelphia landmark in poor condition and cut off power to many nearby residents and businesses.

City officials said there were no injuries, and second-generation proprietor Ken Silver has pledged to rebuild the business his father co-founded in 1976.

We had a rough day, Jims Steaks wrote on social media Friday evening, next to a working to douse the building. Our staff, these folks, and many others kept everyone safe. We thank them and you all.

Over its 46 years, Jims has become a Philly icon. Its patronized by both tourists and locals, and traditionally has cultivated a booming late-night business, often boasting a long line that winds around the corner from its 400 South St. location.

Heres what we know about the fire, and what might happen going forward.

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What Other Businesses Were Affected

Its been a rough summer for the lower blocks of the South Street corridor, which were rocked by a deadly shooting in June.

Streets around the Jims intersection were expected to remain temporarily shut to traffic, according to the South Street Headhouse District, which noted several businesses were also forced to remain closed.

Longstanding art and clothing boutique Eyes Gallery is directly next door to Jims, and its state was unknown Friday evening, owner Julia Zagar told The Inquirer.

Bar and restaurant MilkBoy, right across from Jims on the opposite corner of South Street, appeared unscathed. It offered condolences on Instagram, posting, Our thoughts are with our neighbors today, thank goodness there were no injuries, but some of our favorite businesses were devastated by fire, smoke & water.

What Is Jim’s South Street

Jim

Formerly known as Jim’s Steaks, Jim’s South Street is a traditional Philly cheesesteak and hogie restaurant. Owned by second-generation proprietor Ken Silver, this restaurant serves Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies daily to hungry customers at its current location on the corner of 4th Street and South Street in the Headhouse District after expanding from their former location in West Philly around 1976.

Originally founded as Jim’s Steaks in West Philly in 1939, the restaurant changed hands in 2011 and is now called Jim’s South Street. The original iteration had humble beginnings: founders Jim and Millie served sandwiches from their home before converting it to a full-time eating establishment shortly thereafter.

Jim’s South Street in Philadelphia offers customers a nostalgic meal in a historic, clean environment.

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How Can Affected People Get Help

About 300 nearby residents were temporarily left without power, PECO said.

The citys Department of Emergency Management activated an emergency reception center at Starr Garden Rec Center at Sixth and Lombard streets, where residents without power were invited to cool off or charge devices through midnight Friday.

How Much Damage Was There

More than 125 firefighters were called to fight the fire, according to Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, who said the heat of the 90-plus degree day made things more difficult. Nearly 60 emergency and city vehicles participated in the response.

The building dates back to 1900, per city records. Thiel said concerns about a possible collapse like the one that recently killed a veteran firefighter in North Philly led him to pull people out and have them work from the outside to control the blaze.

Emergency workers planned to continue working throughout the evening, according to OEM Director Dominick Mireles.

With all the smoke and water, the building could be a total loss, Silver told The Inquirer. But he pledged to rebuild, saying, I owe it to my fathers legacy.

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We Now Know What Caused South Street’s Jim’s Steaks To Go Up In Flames

Jims South Street Makes The Quintessential Philly Cheesesteak | Legendary Eats

Almost a week removed from a fire that 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 range of emotions.

That began first thing Friday morning when Silver received a call that the building’s air conditioning was malfunctioning and he thought he would have to replace the batteries in the thermostat. Then a phone call at 9:09 a.m. from a manager notified him that smoke was coming out of the building. When the fire finally subsided five hours later, Silver thought the building would have to be torn down.

He found out Saturday that the building at 400 South St. won’t have to be torn down, as he’d feared, but the road to recovery could be a long one. Silver is no stranger to dealing with adversity that threatens his longstanding business. Like it did for so many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on temporary closures, hiring struggles, and revenue that was cut in half at Jim’s, which first opened its doors in 1976. Silver said the fire is “just another wrench thrown into the works, and we’ll have to work to get it out.”

“Resiliency isn’t hard,” Silver said. “We’ve been in the neighborhood for 47-plus years, so it’s not like we’re thinking about going anywhere else.”

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

Stay in the know on all things business with the Philadelphia Business Journal.

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A Short History Of Jims Steaks

The business traces its founding to 1939, when Jim Perligni opened the store at 62nd and Noble Streets in West Philadelphia. The business was sold in the mid-1960s to William Proetto.

In 1976, Abner Silver, a lawyer who had done work for Proetto, joined him in opening the Jims at Fourth and South Streets, then Philadelphias Fabric Row. South Street was literally at a crossroads in the 1970s, as plans for a crosstown expressway had been scuttled shortly before and businesses catering to young people such as J.C. Dobbs and the TLA were moving in.

The location was a natural for cheesesteaks, a tourist favorite, thanks to Pats and Genos in South Philadelphia.

Silver, who also had a shop called Abners at 38th and Chestnut Streets, assumed sole ownership of what is formally Jims South St. Steaks & Hoagies after Proettos death in 2011. Shortly after, Silvers son, Ken, took over the business as his father was suffering from Alzheimers disease. He died at age 79 in 2015.

The Proetto family operates the Jims Steaks location in Springfield, Delaware County.

Fire Rips Through Well

The owner of the cheesesteak shop already promised to rebuild the iconic eatery for locals and tourists alike.

Jims Steaks owner Kenneth Silver told NBC10 Saturday that the citys licensing and inspections department does not believe the building on South Street is a total loss and that its structural integrity will be able to be maintained.

Jim’s Steaks first opened in 1939 in West Philadelphia, but the South Street location opened in 1976. The building on South Street was originally constructed around 1900, according to city property records.

We are definitely going to be back for year 48, so just give us a break,” Silver said standing outside the boarded-up restaurant. “Visit the other great establishments in Philadelphia. There are so many of us. Were one big family and were one big cheesesteak community.”

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Weekend in Philadelphia

The menu here is pretty basic. The short and sweet menu consists of mainly hot and cold sandwiches and drinks with no sides like french fries or onion rings. Menu items such as cheesesteaks, pizzasteaks, peppers and egg sandwiches, and traditional hoagies made from cold cuts/ or lunchmeat such as the Special Italian, turkey and cheese, ham, or prosciutto. They even offer a vegetarian option called Maxine’s Meatless. As far as the basic menu goes, there are plenty of offerings to satisfy any hungry traveler that visits this timeless eatery.

A beautifully wrapped cheesesteak gift from Jim’s South Street

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We Ship Anywhere Within The Continental Us Through Exclusive Agreement With Doordash

Jim’s South St. has partnered with DoorDash to offer next-day air delivery

or for shipping to Alaska & Hawaii.

Our world-famous cheesesteaks are made-to-order, flash-frozen, and cold-packaged in quantities of 6, 8 or 12, then shipped overnight to your destination.

Your sandwiches will arrive ice-cold to ensure quality and freshness.

Give us a call and we’ll be glad to go over all of the details

or click the image to reach our DoorDash order page.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY IMPOSTERS

DoorDash is the exclusive shipping partner of Jim’s South St..

NO OTHER delivery service offers our cheesesteaks and we DO NOT ship via “goldbelly.com” nor any other third party.

^ Click on the steaks to place your order ^

In Other Jims Developments:

  • A GoFundMe for the Jims workers has been created at . Through additional wages, were going to take care of them and make them whole, Silver said. Were not a big business. Were a family-run, tightly knit group.

  • A GoFundMe drive for Eyes Gallery to support recovery efforts has been created at .

  • A temporary Jims location could be set up in a nearby storefront, Silver said. He said he has heard offers of support from the local business community.

  • Fresh food, including 3,000 pounds of beef stored in Jims basement freezer, will be trashed. A pallet of canned foods and dry goods that Tilottas Provisions had delivered Friday to Jims sidewalk was given to Ishkabibbles, a nearby sandwich shop, Silver said.

Silver spent Saturday at MilkBoy, the bar-restaurant across the street, to await city inspectors and to greet well-wishers, including John Foy, a founder of Bridget Foys restaurant two blocks away. An electrical fire in 2017, whose origin appeared similar to Fridays blaze, destroyed the restaurant. Bridget Foy reopened in December 2020 after it was rebuilt.

Silver watched as a stream of limo, Uber, and Lyft drivers pulled up outside of Jims to drop off customers many from out of town who had not heard about the fire.

Theres this family from the Middle East who always comes to us as soon as they land, he said. Their reaction was heartwarming, he said.

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Destructive Fire At Jims Steaks Caused By Electrical Issue

    By Updated Aug. 1, 2022 12:37 pm

Firefighters putting out a fire that broke out at Jim’s Steaks on South St. July 29, 2022.

Philadelphia fire officials say an issue with electrical wiring led to a massive fire Friday at Jims Steaks on South Street. The Fire Department confirmed the update in a Monday.

The landmark restaurant best known for its cheesesteaks was severely damaged in a two-alarm fire, but the owner is vowing to rebuild the culinary icon.

Assistant manager Christina Lawlor knew there were problems when she went in to start the business day shortly after 7 a.m.

It was very hot in there when I first walked in. So I called my boss and I said, Hey, somethings going on. Its like 80 degrees here and normally its cold.

An air conditioning contractor was called and Lawlor went about setting up for the business day.

Lawlor said at about 10 oclock they found the issue in a freezer area.

We looked up and we saw smoke coming down from where the walk-in is. It was just smoke pouring down.

At first, firefighters went into the building but were pulled out after about an hour. Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said they were cautious after the collapse of another fast-food restaurant that resulted in the death of a firefighter in June.

So we switched to whats called an exterior or a defensive attack, which essentially means that we are confining the fire to the building of origin.

How Did The Fire Start

Beloved Jim’s Steaks to rebuild after fire

It appeared to start in the HVAC system.

The first sign of a problem was when Jims assistant manager Chrstina Lawlor arrived shortly after 7 a.m., she told reporters, and the air conditioning wasnt working. Contractors were called to look into the problem, and she began setting up for the day.

A few hours later, Lawlor said, she noticed that it smelled electrical. She and her crew looked up and saw smoke pouring down from where the walk-in refrigerator is located. She evacuated the staff, and called for help.

The first fire companies began investigating smoke in the building around 9:25 a.m., the Fire Department said, and it took four hours to bring it under control. The Fire Marshals Office will launch a deeper investigation into the cause.

Tweet from @PhillyFireDept

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What Is Jims Known For

The South Street location was originally opened by Abner Silver and a partner as an offshoot of a West Philadelphia cheesesteak shop, but over the past half-century has created its own lore.

Included in that legacy is the tradition of picking up a giant slice of pizza from nearby Lorerenzos and wrapping it around a Jims cheesesteak to create whats known as a Philly Taco or South Street Taco.

Steaks from Jims are of the chopped variety. Red slices of beef pulled off their stacks at the edge of the grill are tossed until well frizzled. A roll lined with cheese slices is laid over the top, then a paddle flips the whole thing so the fried onions can be laid down the middle.

Silver is adamant that people should eat what they like and not feel ashamed or worried about placing the proper order or using certain words. There is no right way to order a cheesesteak, he told Billy Penn last year.

The shop also sells hoagies, and is generally a welcoming, friendly place. Its atmosphere is exemplified by this clip from 2016, when the entire late-night line broke out singing Boyz II Men.

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