The sign outside Del's II Steaks promises hot beef and hot pork, but it was the talk inside that sizzled as word spread through South Philadelphia that plans for a nearby casino had collapsed.
"Why don't they build it?" wondered store owner Michael Del Buono, incredulous at the news that the state Gaming Control Board had revoked the Foxwoods license. "SugarHouse got built. Why not here?"
But Mike Lenord, standing nearby, would hear nothing of casinos being good for the neighborhood.
"I hate them," he said, echoing the list of casino-related concerns, including traffic and crowds, voiced for the last four years by community groups. "Property value goes down."
Del Buono argued that fears of crime were overblown. "Pickpockets, prostitution, all that stuff - you got it here already!"
The corner store at Front and Tasker Streets stands across Columbus Boulevard from what had been the proposed home of Foxwoods Casino. The property is remarkable only for its banality - a huge plot of wild grass, trees, and broken concrete, bounded by a United Artists movie theater and a Home Depot. A Club Risque strip joint beckons from the south. The superstructure of the Walt Whitman Bridge lay hidden Thursday behind a hazy curtain of falling snow.
On Front Street, banners proclaim "Pennsport Pride," and rowhouses sit side by side with small businesses.
"I don't want a casino here," said Benjamin Chen, who runs Ben's Salon.
He had been worried that a casino would frighten people from coming into the neighborhood. What's more, he said, SugarHouse and other casinos take disposable income from people who might otherwise patronize his salon.
"A lot of people, they go to the casino, they lose money - they don't want to come spend at [other] businesses," he said.
A couple of blocks from the site, John Howlett sat on a stool sipping a Yuengling at the Shamrock Pub. He had heard that plans for the casino were going down - and was glad of it.
"We don't need it," Howlett said.
People who live in the neighborhood - and he was born and raised here - already are unhappy about rowdy behavior from people who pour into the movie theater. A casino would be worse, he said.
At Del's II Steaks, Del Buono was doing a brisk business in scratch-off lottery tickets, the rolls of cards behind him including games such as Lady Bucks and Winner Take All.
Bud Hudson stopped in. He wasn't upset about the Foxwoods plan falling apart. He prefers to gamble at the Harrah's casino in Chester.
Del Buono said he liked to play the slots in Atlantic City - but a local casino could have been a big winner.
"I think it would be a very profitable place, more than SugarHouse," he said. "We got a lot of gamblers down here."