Eyes Gallery has sold its original home to neighboring Jim’s Steaks, another iconic South Street establishment. Both small businesses were devastated by a July 2022 fire that originated in electrical wiring at Jim’s.
The cheesesteak spot, which recently shared plans for rebuilding, will expand into the former gallery next door, according to Eyes Gallery owner Julia Zagar — while keeping the artwork on the facade.
“I realized that Jim’s Steaks would actually look really good with a lot of mosaics,” Zagar told Billy Penn.
Some of the artwork — created by famed mosaic muralist Isaiah Zagar, Julia’s husband — needs restoration, and she said the plan is for Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to assist Jim’s Steaks in that process.
Reached on Saturday, second-generation Jim’s Steaks owner Ken Silver didn’t want to discuss details, saying, “I’m not prepared to talk about that at this time.” He did confirm the move to The Inquirer, however, explaining he planned to use the new space for additional tables and seating.
Eyes Gallery had earlier announced the sale on Instagram.
After the fire last summer, Zagar attempted to restore the storefront at 402 South St., where she’d opened her long-running boutique and gallery in 1968. But the process was “demoralizing,” and took a heavy toll, she said.
At the 6-month mark, she started considering other options. They included selling to Silver, a long-time neighbor whose family Zagar has known for decades. Silver had offered to buy the building and maintain the legacy of Isiaiah Zagar’s mosaics, Julia Zagar said.
She and her team will get to focus their energy on the opening of a new Eyes Gallery location across the street, at 327 South St. Launch is currently slated for April 1, and it will offer merchandise similar to the previous store, with a focus on local artists and folk art, particularly from Latin America.
For Zagar, it’s a silver lining, one she thinks could revitalize the entire block.
“It is amazing. In a way it’s so beautiful,” Zagar said. “The fire was terrible. And it took me about three months to get my head together and get things worked out, but now I think that I’ve done the right thing. So I know it’ll be better.”