Feed Our Food Workers: Popular Italian Market dive bar explains unique struggle

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Across the street from the Italian Market in Philadelphia and 12 steps down into a basement is the neighborhood's appropriately named watering hole.

12 Steps Down is a dive where neighbors stood once shoulder to shoulder. Now there are 16 chairs spaced out.

"We keep saying over and over as long as everybody's lights are still on and we're eating, that's all we can kind of hope for right now until we can get to the end of this," said Danielle Renzulli, the bar's owner.

With no windows and one door, it will never meet the ventilation requirements Philadelphia has for 50 percent capacity, but the staff of five is doing what it can to survive.

James Gaffield, who has been the cook at the bar for more than a decade, was out of work for two months during the initial lockdown.

The whole time, he dreaming up recipes for when he could get back in the kitchen.

"It's hard when you don't know what's coming next. You don't know how to plan because you don't know what you're planning for," said Gaffield, but he does know if he can't cook for his neighbors, he won't eat either.

The bar has lost 70% of its business. Owners are trying to balance that with PPE loans and grants.

"I apply for everything that's out there and hope and keep my fingers crossed," said Renzulli.

Like a lot of other bars and restaurants, 12 Steps does now have a space for outdoor dining, but with this cold winter, the bar says it really hasn't been that helpful.

"You come here for a social experience, for a feeling, our product is a feeling and that's not something you can bottle up and deliver to somebody's house," said Renzulli.
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