For all those brisket and rib fans dismayed to discover Percy Street Barbecue is closed, take heart. The South Street restaurant, which has been shuttered and quiet for nearly three weeks, is not gone for good. At least not if the current owners can help it.
“We’re trying to get open as soon as possible,” proprietor Jasper Singh told Billy Penn. “We’re unsure when that is going to be. Every day we just wait for answers.”
Singh, who along with two partners bought the BBQ joint from Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook’s restaurant group in spring of 2016, noted that because attorneys are involved in the situation, he’s limited in what he can publicly say.
The issue appears to have something to do with water damage. On July 24, the restaurant announced via social media that it was closing for “unscheduled maintenance” attributed to flooding from recent rainstorms.
But the problems may go back further. An Aug. 3 statement — which was signed by lawyers from two different firms, one in Philly and one in Delaware, where Singh owns a restaurant called 1861 — cites “a severe water loss” that “interrupted normal business operations” and says insurance carriers are investigating the situation.
“From what we understand, the leak started before we bought the business,” said Singh. “The whole building is having problems. It really has nothing to do with us. I guess the building is old.”
A spokesperson from CookNSolo declined to comment on whether they were aware of any such water issues when they sold. Billy Penn was unable to make contact with the landlord of the ground floor spaces, listed on documents filed with the city as Chan Investments. The apartments above the restaurant are all condominiums and individually owned. Representatives from the South Street Headhouse District were unaware of any complications at the site.
The timing of the leak/flood/water issues is especially unfortunate, considering it came just a week after Percy Street was forced to close for 48 hours because of violations during a routine Health Department inspection.
A similar cease operations notice related to “plumbing issues” appears to have put the Northeast Philly outpost of Jim’s Steaks out of business.
However, Singh did make clear that he is not throwing in the towel, and fully intends to get his business open again.
Proof? Even though there is no revenue coming in, Percy Street is currently paying its entire staff, both back and front of the house, he said. The stipends are likely not as much as servers or bartenders would usually make, especially because business was picking up and “finally getting traction” after the ownership change, per Singh. But it’s been enough to stem an exodus.
“For the most part everyone has stayed, which has been amazing,” Singh said. “Many of them have asked, ‘Do you want us to come in and help out?’ Which, no, we want it to be safe.”
As of now, the doors and windows of the space remain covered with paper, and there is no timetable for Percy Street’s relaunch.