La Fourno, which dispensed brick-oven pizzas and other Italian fare from its storefront at 636 South St., has shuttered after a quarter-century.
Building owner Tom Vasiliades, who built the restaurant, which had two ownership changes over the years, said it needed to be refreshed to compete, a common factor in an era in which people are seeking new experiences. He plans to renovate and open a simple eatery serving pizzas and salads next spring. Vasiliades posted a notice in the shop window steering customers to South Street Souvlaki, his popular Greek restaurant.
Unlike the thriving nearby blocks in Queen Village and Society Hill — with popular, new spots such as Fiore Fine Foods, Cry Baby, and Bloomsday Cafe — the eastern end of South Street has seen mixed fortunes. Vacancies abound on the stretch, home now mainly to a revolving door of boutiques, vape shops, nail salons, and variety stores. Rental prices or properties on the street itself are part of the problem, say Realtors.
The Starbucks at Fourth and South went out over the summer, darkening the otherwise lively corner where Copabanana, Jim’s Steaks, and MilkBoy hold forth. The vast Downey’s, once a hot spot at Front and South, is empty. Jon’s Bar & Grille at Third and South has been down for a year, and the Legendary Dobbs next door has been empty for four years. Bincho, a Japanese robatayaki restaurant, closed recently after less than six months at 228 South, and will be replaced soon by a boiled seafood house.