PHILADELPHIA – A Philly cheesesteak restaurant has reopened for business and now has security personnel armed with rifles since violent crime has disrupted the harmony in the City of Brotherly Love. The eatery joins a local gas station that also employs rifle-toting guards to ensure customer safety.
Jim’s West Steaks & Hoagies in West Philadelphia is open for business. Video from the grand reopening on Sunday shows customers lining up to order sandwiches under the watchful eye of heavily armed security guards.
A local reporter said, “The original Jim’s Steaks in West Philadelphia is making a comeback. … The additional security measure is part of the restaurant’s new identity, all to match the new reality.”
One of the restaurant co-owner’s, Cortez Johnson, talked about the city that has seen a surge in murders, many that have taken place near the business, reported WPVI-TV.
“The violence has spiked,” Johnson said. “You want people to feel safe and be safe. So when they come out and eat, they don’t have to worry about no type of harm.”
The heavily armed security personnel are posted outside the eatery during business hours from Thursday to Sunday each week, according to the news outlet.
“Our lines are down the block, so while you’re standing here in line, connecting with other people you may not know, we have security right here just to keep you guys safe,” said Saul Landers, the chief financial officer of Jim’s West.
“If you want to secure your business and you want to make sure everyone is safe, you have to spend that extra money,” he noted in today’s world.
Kevon Darden is the owner of Presidential Protection Services. He said those working the post at the beloved food establishment all have a “military, police and law enforcement background.”
“It’s not just myself, it’s usually other agents who are sworn and certified by the state of Pennsylvania to do security work when they’re off duty,” he told WPVI.
One customer identified as Nitah Dunham voiced support for the show of force.
“Safety and good food is always a plus,” Dunham said.
Another customer, Mario Maiale, said he’s “not a big fan of guns, but I get it. If it deters it [crime], I can’t complain,” he noted.
William King said he doesn’t like the optics and it’s “not family friendly.”
But then again, neither is armed robbery and murder, security professionals point out.
The business was targeted by armed robbery suspects in at least one crime of violence that occurred in 2015, the Philly Voice reported. In the takeover robbery, cash was taken from customers as well as the restaurant.
The business closed in 2019, but recently reopened, much to the delight of cheesesteak lovers in the neighborhood.
After a crescendo of violent crime in 2020 and 2021, homicides have been down 20% in Philadelphia since last year, according to police. However, eight slayings occurred within a 10-block radius of Jim’s West Steaks & Hoagies, statistics from the city controller’s office showed, according to the New York Post.
The restaurant now joins a local gas station that also employs heavily armed personnel in the interest of customer safety, Law Officer reported last December.
Neil Patel is the operator of Karco gas station at Broad and Clearfield streets in North Philadelphia. He recruited Pennsylvania S.I.T.E Agents to keep his establishment and its customers safe since they have been repeatedly victimized.
“They are forcing us to hire the security, high-level security, state level,” Patel said last year. “We are tired of this nonsense; robbery, drug trafficking, hanging around, gangs.”