Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Stephen Starr’s restaurant Jones has closed after nearly 20 years

Jones, Starr’s retro diner near the Liberty Bell, actually closed back in March 2020. Starr would like to revive the idea in Fishtown.

Jones restaurant, shortly after its opening at 700 Chestnut St. in August 2002.
Jones restaurant, shortly after its opening at 700 Chestnut St. in August 2002.Read moreFILE PHOTOGRAPH

Jones, the homey comfort-food haven from Stephen Starr at Seventh and Chestnut Streets, is closed, just shy of 20 years.

Jones actually served its last hunk of meat loaf back in March 2020, but Starr confirmed the closing last week.

He said Jones would have closed eventually because the building owner was planning construction — all the better because lunchtime and tourist traffic in the historic district has dropped precipitously. When that work is finished, Starr said, he would not be opposed to revisiting the space but also mused: “It would be huge in Fishtown.”

Looking back, Starr said Jones did not turn out quite as he had intended. “I was really going for a young, hipster cafeteria,” he said. “It ended up being more families.”

>> SEND US your memories of Jones

Schefer Design, which also did Starr’s late, great Tangerine, transformed a former Spain’s Gifts card shop into what Inquirer Food Critic Craig LaBan calls “a retro, cultured-stone fireplace nod to the living room sets of popular TV shows from the 1970s.” That shag carpet and sunken dining room screamed Brady Bunch. The balcony seating offered a bird’s-eye view of the bar, with its playful photo of old-time bathing beauties, and dining room.

Starr recalls the day Bill Murray walked in, sat down, and ordered lunch (quietly), and a visit from Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth (not so quietly). I’ll recall the evening of my oldest daughter’s 21st birthday when she ordered her first legal drink, a whiskey sour, and proudly showed her ID.

LaBan recalls the “stellar fried chicken cooked in a special pressurized deep-fryer, a solid Cobb salad, and a chocolate layer cake served with a glass of milk — an upgraded homage to Duncan Hines.”

» READ MORE: A look at the restaurants due to open in 2022

LaBan also remembers “the sonic wall of noise in its stone-lined dining room.” It was one of the few places to hit 100-plus decibels on his portable sound meter. But as Starr once told LaBan after one of his many complaints about noise in his dining rooms: “To me, that’s the sound of a successful restaurant.”

Starr also shuttered Alma de Cuba and the Continental in Old City during the pandemic and is redoing Pod with chef Peter Serpico as KPod.