Popular South Street businesses Jim’s South Street, Ishkabibble’s, Lorenzo & Sons Pizza, and Wawa have agreed to close earlier on the weekends during this violent summer to curb the crowds that typically gather until early the next morning.
These businesses were previously open until 3 a.m. or all 24 hours, but starting the weekend of June 28 agreed to close by 2 a.m., said Michael Harris, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District.
“After the bars closed here and after the bars closed elsewhere in the city, a lot of people would come here like a second bar wave,” Harris said, describing his observations of people hanging out on South Street until 3 or 3:30 a.m. The idea is to “change some of the late-night dynamics and sort of help the police with their efforts.”
The short-term goal is that this voluntary agreement will last through the end of the summer and remain in place for the “foreseeable future," Harris said. While both Wawa locations on South Street — at Second and Ninth streets — closed between 2 and 4 a.m. on the last couple weekends, a company spokesperson wrote in an email that the store at Ninth will now remain open 24 hours.
Ken Silver, president of Jim’s South Street, said the cheesesteak emporium is losing an hour of “fairly dense revenue." Unlike tourists during the day, who may come in and split a cheesesteak three ways, if there are 100 people in line at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday to buy a cheesesteak, “you’re going to sell a hundred cheesesteaks."
“We appreciate the cooperation of other businesses that are also negatively impacted by closing earlier," said Silver, who is also treasurer of the South Street Headhouse District. "But the greater good of the neighborhood to me is more important, and I think it is to them as well.”
“The last month or so, there has been a lot of gun violence in the whole city.... We are not immune from it in this area," Harris said. He called the earlier closings “more preventative.”
On the same block as MilkBoy, Jim’s South Street, and Copabanana, a 21-year-old man was shot in the left thigh and a 22-year-old man was shot in the left leg about 12:50 a.m. June 15.
About 3 a.m. June 16, near a Starbucks, the Wawa, and a police mini-station at Ninth and South, a 22-year-old man was shot twice in a shoulder and twice in the abdomen.
Police said at the time that the first two victims were listed in stable condition and the third was in critical condition.
In this summer’s violence, there have also been at least two mass shootings at a city playground in less than a month.
City Councilman Mark Squilla said the changes seem to be working, but improving South Street is still “a work in progress.”
“People go to South Street to have fun, and we want to continue that,” he said. “Lately, it’s taken a hit, because if you don’t feel safe, you’re not going to go there.”
Street sweepers and trash trucks have started coming through the street at 2:30 a.m. instead of about 4 a.m. to signify that the night is over and people should go home, said Lt. Michael Long, commanding officer of the South Street mini-station. There are also additional parking restrictions.