Activists begin protest campaign against Le Bok Fin pop-up
Activists have begun an online campaign against Le Bok Fin, the new pop-up restaurant located atop the defunct Bok Technical High School at 9th and Mifflin in South Philly.
Update (1:15 p.m.) — Scout's Lindsey Scannapieco has since reached out with comment, writing that Le Bok Fin is "not school closure-themed" and that her organization was "not involved in any of the decision making processes involved in the closing of Bok Vocational High School."
Her full statement is as follows:
We were deeply saddened by the recent comments by Jobs for Justice. We share the frustration of the loss of Philadelphia public schools and were not involved in any of the decision making processes involved in the closing of the Bok Vocational High School. The school, which has sat vacant for two years, is both a loss and risk to the community. Our intention is to reinvigorate this building into a new life. It will no longer be a school, but we do aspire for it to be an affordable mixed-use facility that offers amenities, space and services to South Philly. Many of these uses will provide important services to the community, and we look forward to hearing from and working with even more organizations in the coming months and years.
The temporary 24-night cafe / bar we have opened is NOT "school-closure themed". This is a historic school and therefore we intend to celebrate, protect and preserve the memories of the building as a school. The architecture of the building will always be influenced by that of its educational past, but we also need to look towards the future and celebrate it's reuse. The cafe / bar was built by our team over a 4-week period using materials and furnishings found in the school. This resonates with our approach to find value in the forgotten, the dismissed and the discarded. To open anything in a vacant building within 4 weeks of gaining ownership is an incredible feat and therefore we appreciate your support in continuing to reimagine what this building can be and work together to ensure it does not continue to sit empty.
The original posting continues below:
As City Paper points out, Philadelphia Jobs with Justice has set up a Facebook event that encourages opponents of Le Bok Fin to review the restaurant negatively on Yelp in order to "let patrons know that Le Bok Fin is a sick joke."
Via the JWJ event page:
A lot of these bar patrons don't realize the cruel symbolism. They're just searching for spots on Yelp, don't realize that they're participating in disaster tourism. So let's use Yelp to clue them in.
Let patrons know that Le Bok Fin is a sick joke—and ask them if they really want to be part of an economy that replaces its schools with expensive popup beer gardens.
Le Bok Fin has also received criticism from Al Dia, which last month called the restaurant the "columbusing of community," and its patrons "disgruntled millennials."
Similarly, charter school teacher Kayla Conklin described Le Bok Fin-goers as "young, white people — the sort who build start-ups and attend expensive, pointless pop-ups that don't worry bout the community that was already there."
The Bok school was purchased recently by Scout, a development firm headed by Lindsey Scannapieco, for $1.75 million — a figure that JWJ says is roughly $16 million off from its assessed value. The organization indicates online that it hopes to foster "a new creative eco-system that seeks to reuse and repurpose existing infrastructure" in South Philly.
Currently, Scout offers its restaurant and yoga classes at the Bok building but states in an online FAQ that services such as daycare, finance, and other community programs are in the works.
Le Bok Fin takes its name from the Bok Technical School's former culinary arts program, which itself was a reference to the now-closed Le Bec-Fin.
Currently, the pop-up restaurant is set to run through Sept. 13.