Last fall, the TGI Friday’s on City Line Avenue turned a portion of its restaurant into a makeshift green room for Allen Iverson. He was debuting a sneaker, a sequel to his best-selling Question. Part of the design included the restaurant’s signature red and white stripes.
“It was a blast,” says Tim Hampton, associate general manager of the restaurant.
Hampton waited on Iverson during his years with the Sixers. And like his cornrows, his postgame parties at TGI Friday’s made up a part of his image.
Iverson liked to party, period. Probably too much. Author Kent Babb reports in his new book “Not A Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson” that Iverson’s thirst for alcohol was so great it led to a decline in his playing career and personal life.
How often did Iverson drink? He was drunk during his famous “practice” rant, according to Babb’s book.
Look back in newspaper archives, and you’ll find plenty of instances of Iverson partying during his days with the Sixers, at TGI Friday’s and beyond. So as a public service, Billy Penn rounded up the best of those instances to present the Iverson bar crawl, tracing nine places where the star liked to spend his nights off the court in Philadelphia.
Because Iverson’s glory years happened in the late 90s and early aughts, many of his favorite haunts have closed. For purposes of the bar crawl, we’ve listed the original places and then added the bar that’s taken over the spot or a nearby bar.
Note: If you actually attempt this bar crawl, drink responsibly (not like Iverson reportedly did). And get an Uber or a cab. You’ll need some wheels.
The Gallery, 9th and Market
So there’s not a bar in The Gallery, you say? You’d be right. But that wouldn’t stop Iverson. During All-Star weekend in 2002, he rented out the entire mall and hosted a major bash there. You’re going to need some energy to get through this bar crawl, so stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee.
Replacement: Ugly Mug Bar & Restaurant, 2nd and Chestnut
Glam was once known to have the smallest dance floor in the city. It doesn’t hold good memories for Iverson, though. In 2003, a member of his group was shot outside of this nightclub.
Dave & Buster’s, Penn’s Landing
Games, games, games! This place was known as one of Iverson’s regular hangouts.
Replacement: Yard’s SugarHouse Casino, Brown and Columbus Boulevard
You only wish you could still go to Gothum. Iverson was once here at this notorious spot the same time as former mob boss Joey Merlino. It happened to be for rapper Kurupt’s birthday party and somebody ended up getting shot, so maybe Gothum wasn’t always the greatest place. Either way, one of the closest places to get a drink near the former site of Gothum is SugarHouse. And given Iverson’s penchant for gambling, he probably would have loved this place.
Eighth Street Lounge (closed)
Replacement: Trestle Inn, 11th and Callowhill
Eighth Street Lounge no longer exists but when it did many Sixers and celebs liked to go, for an atmosphere that featured people mostly “in tight clothing and very little underwear.” Trestle Inn is probably the closest bar to the former spot of Eighth Street Lounge.
Replacement: Joe’s Crab Shack, City Line Avenue
Here’s why you’ll especially need the car. Iverson’s mansion was in Gladwyne on the Main Line, so he liked going to the bars and restaurants on City Avenue, Houlihan’s being one of them. Unfortunately, Houlihan’s sustained massive damages from a fire in 2011 and a Joe’s Crab Shack is there now. Who knows if Iverson would approve of the new place?
TGI Friday’s, City Line Avenue
The mother of all Iverson stops. If you just go to one place on this list, go here. Babb devoted two pages of his book to Iverson’s love for this TGI Friday’s. He writes that after home games “waiters and bartenders began preparing for Iverson’s arrival. He could arrive at any minute, flanked by an entourage twenty or thirty strong. And so the bar was stocked with Iverson’s favorite imported beers, and Table 70, a long booth in the corner and Iverson’s favorite spot, was kept vacant and marked as reserved.”
The rapper Jadakiss told SLAM, “Yeah, I went to one of them Fridays after a game. Philly is like one of my second home, anyways. For me to just chill with him at that Fridays after the game, and see him turn it into a club–wild girls. It was crazy.”
Hampton told Billy Penn Iverson would come in and play Monopoly, sometimes for hours. Friends and family would often join. He would sit at the booth or other times at the bar or in another booth, pictured here with Hampton. Iverson would drink Corona. Two of his favorite food items were the blackened chicken alfredo and chicken fingers.
“He could’ve flown out of here to any six-star restaurant,” Hampton said, “but he chose to come here to TGI Friday’s.”
Replacement: The Roxxy, 939 Columbus Boulevard
Swing back here from City Avenue for the start of the late-night partying (because TGI Friday’s won’t stay open late for you). In its heyday, Chrome provided Iverson with two levels, four bars a VIP room and supposedly an outside deck unmatched from here to the Shore. Doesn’t appear to be a lot different now that it’s called the Roxxy.
Palmer Social Club (closed)
Replacement: Trilogy, Sixth and Spring Garden
Palmer’s was also known as an Iverson staple. It lasted a long time in Philadelphia, about 10 years, before getting rebranded as Trilogy in 2012. Basically the same thing, though: loud music and the place doesn’t get crowded until after 2 a.m. Iverson would probably still be down.