H.a. Winston Closes Last Of 22 Restaurants It Was A Favorite Of Singles In The '70s. The Founder Said, "I Really Don't Know Why, But It Worked."

Posted: July 15, 1992

The last H.A. Winston & Co. restaurant, a Philadelphia phenomenon in the 1970s, closed its doors at 15th and Locust Streets yesterday.

Employees said the restaurant closed yesterday morning and referred calls to the founder of the chain, Herb Spivak, who also operates the Rib Shack, in a former H.A. Winston & Co. restaurant in Bryn Mawr.

Spivak, who also is a founder of Electric Factory Concerts Inc., could not be reached for comment.

The first H.A. Winston & Co. restaurant opened at Front and Chestnut Streets in 1972. In those days, H.A. Winston was mainly a singles bar that had an eclectic decor and sold a lot of hamburgers and onion soup.

H.A. Winston & Co. was Philadelphia's precursor to a wave of other chain restaurants that served up big hamburgers and fried finger foods, including

Bennigan's, Houlihan's and T.G.I. Friday's.

In a 1987 interview, Spivak said he had no pretentions about the food at H.A. Winston & Co.

"When we opened we didn't want to be bothered with a lot of food," he said. "So we sold hamburgers, which was the easiest thing.

"It just happened to be the right thing at the right place at the right time," Spivak said. "I'm not a psychiatrist. To be honest, I really don't know why, but it worked."

By 1977, there were 22 H.A. Winston & Co. restaurants owned by Spivak and franchisees. The chain stretched from North Jersey to Virginia.

But by 1983, the chain had trouble sustaining its expansion and began closing restaurants. At the time, Spivak said he had trouble finding enough good people to staff the restaurants.

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