They're called ghost signs - faded, oldtime painted wall signs advertising long-ago businesses. Some have been visible for years, a part of the cityscape. Others seem to pop up out of nowhere, conjuring up old memories.
Such is the case of one advertising Lew Tendler's, a famous Center City pub in its day at Broad and Locust Streets. A sign came into view last week during demolition of a parking garage on Broad Street near Locust. The lot is making way for a hotel.
Ad exec Marc Brownstein, whose office at 215 S. Broad St. faces the wall of what more recently was Perch Pub and Upstares at Varalli, was but a lad when Tendler's closed in 1970. He doesn't remember Tendler's, which opened shortly after Prohibition was lifted. But his father, Berny, does.
Tendler's, like Frankie Bradley's (now revamped as Franky Bradley's), was one of those pre-Mad Men joints that dotted Center City. Rough around the edges - and almost to the core.
"It was a colorful watering hole, a steakhouse," said Berny Brownstein, who moved his ad agency from 15th Street to its current location in 1980.
Unlike most bars today, "it wasn't very family-friendly. Everything today is gourmet and creative and light eating. Tendler's wasn't that. It's what we'd today call a sports bar but Damon Runyonesque ... a lot of tough guys. You never knew who you were going to see in there."
And diagonally across from the Academy of Music, to boot.
Tendler, a top boxer of his day, ceded control of the bar to a relative in 1960. He died in 1970, shortly after the bar closed.