'Iron Chef' eyes Old Original Bookbinder's site

The former Old Original Bookbinder's at Second and Walnut Streets.
The former Old Original Bookbinder's at Second and Walnut Streets.
Posted: October 13, 2013

The Philadelphia restaurateur Jose Garces has set his sights on the longtime location of Old Original Bookbinder's, the historic restaurant that has been closed since 2009.

A spokeswoman for the Garces Group said Friday that an agreement had not been finalized, but that Garces "has been looking at this historic space for some time and discussing how it can be utilized."

Old Original Bookbinder's claimed that its origin dated to 1865. Another account said it was an oyster saloon that opened in 1893 at 525 S. Fifth St. and then moved to Second and Walnut Streets in 1898.

A family split in the 1930s led to the opening of Bookbinder's 15th Street Seafood House. That location is now an Applebee's.

The Second and Walnut location was sold in the 1940s to John M. Taxin, who renamed it Old Original Bookbinder's to distinguish it from the other Bookbinder's. In its heyday, it hosted Elizabeth Taylor, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, and other celebrities.

The restaurant closed in 2002 after years of declining business and reopened as a smaller restaurant in 2005. It closed again, was opened, and finally shut for good in March 2009, citing "mechanical emergencies."

Garces, an "Iron Chef" on the Food Network, owns more than a dozen restaurants in Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities.


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