Oscar’s Tavern shut down for health violations

The bar’s kitchen was not up to code.

Oscar's Tavern on Feb. 20, 2018

Oscar's Tavern on Feb. 20, 2018

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Update Feb. 22: The bar reopened at 2 p.m. Thursday

Regulars hoping for a cheap beer and cheesesteak-and-a-half deal at Oscar’s Tavern Tuesday night went home disappointed, as the popular Center City dive had been shut down by the Philadelphia Department of Health.

A cease operations order was issued for Oscar’s as of 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 20, and five hours later the site remained locked and dark behind the yellow-and-white striped violation notice.

Per the health inspection report dated the same day, the kitchen problems were bad enough that the bar will not be allowed to reopen for at least 48 hours — at which time a $315 fee will be required for reinspection.

Cease operations notice at Oscar's Tavern

Cease operations notice at Oscar's Tavern

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

The tavern, which has operated as Oscar’s at 1524 Sansom St. since 1972 — and still looks pretty much the same as it did four decades ago — has never been a bastion of proper ServSafe practices.

Previous inspections have found numerous violations, including missing sanitizer, dirty serving bowls, leakage from the dumpster out back and lack of proper signage advising of things like washing hands after using the bathroom or the health dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant.

But this inspection found more egregious violations, enough to shut the place down.

Some of the issues the Health Dept. sanitarian found:

  • Cigarette butts on the floor in the food prep area
  • Mouse droppings on the heat lamp where food waits to be picked up by wait staff; the prep table near the meat slicer; the shelving above the meat slicer; under the counter sink
  • A live mouse in the front prep area
  • Small black flies around the floor drain and basin in the basement

The bar’s food menu is not extensive, but it is well worn.

Hundreds of Center City workers regularly take advantage of the inexpensive happy hour snacks like pierogi, fries and chicken fingers. And when you order a cheesesteak after 4 p.m., you get another half sandwich, for free.

Oscar’s general manager Joe Mullan, who’s worked at the spot since 2000 and took over most management duties for second-generation owner Richard Choudak in 2011, could not be reached for comment.

Thanks for reading all the way

Seems you’re the kind of person who really digs in. Want more? Get an update direct to your inbox each morning, with everything you need to stay on top of Philly news.

Thanks for reading all the way

Been seeing you here a lot lately — seems like you’re the kind of newshound who really digs in. If you value the info we provide, become a member today!

Billy Penn runs on reader support

Like the story above, everything we publish is powered by people like you. If our work helps you learn about Philadelphia, we’d love to count you as a member.

Lock in your support

The article above was published thanks to your support! A monthly membership will help ensure Billy Penn can keep reporting on Philly news.

Spread the love

Billy Penn members like you are the reason our newsroom keeps going. Know someone who might want to support our work? Send them a note — they just might join the local journalism fight.