RIP, Johnny Rockets. What’s Next at 5th & South?

It just so happened that we were traveling up 5th Street past South yesterday,¬†and found ourselves¬†thunderstruck to see that Johnny Rockets had closed after a very lengthy run on the northeast corner. We weren’t sad per se, as Johnny Rockets wasn’t exactly the straw stirring the drink of the Philadelphia restaurant scene. Still, it’s always a shame when a business closes its doors, especially after operating for so long that we couldn’t remember what was there before. In case you’re wondering, some commenters on a Michael Klein story covering the closure indicate it was previously a family owned drug store.

Former Johnny Rockets
Sign on the door

With Johnny Rockets out, MSC Retail is now actively working to lease out this 1,800 sqft space. Considering the prime location and strong corner space, we imagine they’ll have a pretty easy time finding a new tenant. Well, that assumes that the owners are willing to lease the space for a reasonable monthly rental rate. The former Net (more famously, the former Book Trader) on the northwest corner has been sitting empty for at least half a year and it’s still listed as available, which is probably an example of the owner looking for a large rent number and having a willingness to wait for someone willing to pay their desired price.

NW corner also vacant

Looking across the street, we had a brilliant idea for the two spaces on the northeast and northwest corners- cell phone stores. Already, T Mobile and Sprint have set up shop on two of the corners of the intersection. What a great opportunity for AT&T and Verizon to take the other two corners! Sure, this would be an utterly terrible outcome for the commercial corridor in terms of product offerings and retail mix, but it could also be something of a tourist draw or a convenient meeting marker. You might someday be able to tell your friends that they can meet you at cell phone corner and they’ll know what you mean. It’ll be exactly like 9th & Federal, but with cell phones instead of cheesesteaks!

Former Grendel's Lair, now a cell phone store
Former Snellenburg's warehouse, now a cell phone store

Okay, on second thought, that’s the worst idea ever. The idea that the corner that was once home to the epic Grendel’s Lair could instead be known for four cell phone stores actually makes feel ill. We’re sorry we brought it up, and are now hoping for any kind of business but a cell phone store at 5th & South. Maybe McDonald’s or Gap want to make a return to South Street?

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