Iconic Philadelphia deli shut down for health violations

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Saturday, June 1, 2024
Iconic Philadelphia deli shut down for health violations
Iconic Philadelphia deli shut down for health violations

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- An iconic Philadelphia deli was shut down for health code violations Wednesday leading to shock from regular customers.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen failed an inspection from the Philadelphia Department of Health leading to the closure. The owner, however, characterized some of the reasons why as a misunderstanding.

A report from the Department of Health noted mouse droppings on prep tables and a slicer, no chlorine in the sanitizing station, and the city says there were no employees present certified in food safety.

The closure led to shock from loyal customers.

"That's a shame! This is a great place," said Chuck and Betsy Trigiani, who came over the bridge from South Jersey for their usual Thursday lunch date, only to be turned away.

"She got $100 bucks on a lottery ticket, so she was actually going to pay for today's meal," said Chuck.

The Philadelphia Department of Health shut down the iconic deli on 4th and Bainbridge Thursday.

"I don't know what they did wrong because the food is terrific," said Margaret Dillon, who lives in the neighborhood. "Devastating. I was going in for chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies. My favorite."

The deli has been under new ownership since January when New England restaurateur Al Gamble bought the more than 100-year-old landmark.

Gamble issued a lengthy statement saying:

"Due to our unfamiliarity with the Philadelphia licensing process and some persistent health violations, Famous 4th Street Deli found itself compelled to close for two days this week. Among the specific issues were our failure to secure City stamps on our ServSafe certifications and our inadvertent application for a renewal food service permit instead of properly filing a notice of change of ownership and some nagging extermination issue that we underestimated with a century old building.

Ensuring rodent, insect, and sanitation control is of utmost importance to us, and we are fully committed to maintaining a pristine delicatessen. To address these concerns, we've implemented a comprehensive action plan, which includes but is not limited to sealing all outside penetrations, engaging in continuous deep cleaning, and ongoing collaborating with our new extermination company to eradicate these issues. Our aim is to become the epitome of remediation success and continue to delight our customers for another century.

We extend our gratitude to the Philadelphia Department of Health for their firm yet educational enforcement of regulations. With the proper paperwork now submitted, we eagerly anticipate reopening tomorrow, Friday, May 31st, 2024, and welcoming back the citizens of our beloved city."

Still, some customers aren't ready to forgive and forget quite yet.

"No. No. I feel like if you go down that path once. It's kind of hard to live up to it. But, once you mess up, it's kind of like reputation. You know it takes 15 years to build a good reputation, 15 minutes to ruin it," said Dasia from Fishtown.

Gamble says he's paying the city a $315 fine for another inspection.

The business reopened on Friday.