Thursday, April 30, 2009

RIP: Old Original Bookbinders 1856-2009

Looks like it's time to sadly say goodbye for good to one of my favorite Philadelphia seafood restaurants: Old Original Bookbinders, opened in 1856, closed last March, and, as I just learned this week, is not likely to reopen.

It closed unexpectedly a few days after Hunter and I had an amazing meal there for his 40th birthday. As we walked down the hallway and looked at the hundreds of pictures of the owners with all the celebrities who had eaten there over the years (pretty much anyone who was anyone) we learned from our friendly bartender that every sitting President has eaten there since 1856, and President Obama was already in the book to visit.

Come to learn the restaurant shuttered a few days later due to ongoing financial troubles. It had been under bankruptcy protection since 2006 following a $4.5 million dollar renovation, but the past year and tanking economy were its' swan song. The bankruptcy petition was dismissed this week, effectively ending the owner's fight to reorganize and reopen.

Eating there in March, we had no idea. We were there on a slow Monday night, and the owner, John Taxin, introduced himself and fussed over us nobodies like we were royalty. He gave no inklings of any imminent trouble.

He brought a local celebrity, Jimmy Binns, over to our table and introduced him to us. (Mr. Binns is a prominent Philly attorney and philanthropist. He has represented Sylvester Stallone, and he even appeared in some of the Rocky movies, playing himself!)

We had an amazing meal, which included a very large lobster for Hunter and scrumptious scallops puttanesca for me. Over dinner we speculated about renting out Bookbinders' 2nd floor room sometime for a big event - maybe a milestone birthday or wedding anniversary party. We thanked Mr. Taxin for his hospitality and vowed to return soon.

Then we learned of the closing. Rumors were Mr. Taxin was trying to pool some investors to reopen, but it looks like no agreement was reached.
So, I'm having a little moment of silence this morning for the demise of a piece of Philly history. Bookbinders, you will be missed.

1 comment:

Elastomom said...

So very sad. I remember going there as a family when we were younger when we were in the area. I recall all of ordering a different dessert and passing our plates around the table. It's funny how random memories stick in you mind.