One of Philadelphia’s most storied cheesesteak shops was closed for business over the weekend, disappointing both regulars and tourists who flock to the increasingly-famous North Broad destination.
Max’s Steaks, which was featured in Rocky sequels Creed and Creed II and recently made a cameo on NBC’s This Is Us, was temporarily shut down due to health code violations, according to a cease and desist sign on its front door.
Also shuttered were the adjacent Eagle Bar and Clock Bar, on Erie and Germantown avenues, respectively. The three locations share an owner and are connected to one another via basement passages, according to Rasul Haqq, who said he works as an assistant manager and security guard at Max’s.
“We never had any serious violations before,” Haqq told a reporter outside the shop on Saturday. “It’s probably been 10 years since this place closed.”
Health officials could be seen inside the establishment, giving it a once-over after crews had come in to fix the issues and give the place a deep cleaning. “It took us 48 hours to do the whole thing,” Haqq said. “Everybody pitched in.”
He and other staffers gathered outside said they expected Max’s to reopen early on Saturday night after inspectors approved the cleanup, but a return visit around 8 p.m. found the gates still half-pulled over the windows and only a few people inside.
Several groups walked up to the locked front door, only to be disappointed. “That spot says it has cheesesteaks,” one teenager said to his friends, pointing to a sign directly across the street. “Nah, we don’t want those cheesesteaks,” came the dejected answer.
Calls to the Philly Health Department’s weekend dispatch center to discover which violations were still outstanding on Sunday were not immediately returned.
A Health Department report shows the cheesesteak shop at 3653 Germantown Ave. failed its regular inspection on Nov. 7, with the sanitarian in charge citing “imminent health hazards” like live rodents and lack of proper temperature care for opened food ingredients.
While reactions on social media included pearl-clutching about dirty environs, these kinds of violations aren’t that uncommon in a city with old infrastructure.
The Inquirer’s monthly report of Health Dept. violations shows at least 37 restaurants were shut down for being out of code last month, including a Federal Donuts, a Starbucks, and various other facilities ranging from corner groceries to goPuff delivery warehouses.
Once closed, many of these places reopen within days. It’s a good bet that a newly sparkling Max’s will return to normal operation this week.