Philadelphia, PA 19107
Frankie Bradley opened the restaurant bearing his name September 15, 1933, just under two months before the end of prohibition on December 5th.
Frankie Bradley wasn’t his real name; he was born Frank Block in South Philadelphia in 1895. Like many poor boys of Italian, Irish and Jewish heritage in those days, he started selling newspapers. He peddled papers on the corner of 15th and market and had to use his fists to hang on to his territory.
That led to a pro boxing match at a local fight club and the decision to change his name to Frankie Bradley. Jewish boxers frequently adopted Irish names because the Irish dominated the sport at the time.
His career as a fighter was successful; he even fought world champions in the bantamweight division. Frankie earned a total of $6000 during his 65 fight boxing career – a grand sum at the time.
His first venture into the food business was a tiny luncheonette that he opened at Juniper and Filbert streets. He then moved to a larger luncheonette on North Broad Street. By now he was married and had children and opened his first deluxe restaurant, the food nest on South Broad near Spruce. It was the prohibition era and like so many others he sold booze under the counter. The joint was raided a few times and eventually padlocked.
Frankie next moved to South Juniper St. between Locust and Spruce and called his place Frankie Bradley’s Romanian Inn. For over 50 years the family-run business was a landmark gathering place for visiting celebrities, sports stars, and local politicians. Elizabeth Taylor, Dick Clark, Lauren Bacall, Jason Robards, Lucille Ball, and Tony Randall were just a few of the stars that frequently patronized the establishment.
Half the building burnt down in 1960, but this allowed Frankie to rebuild and expand by buying the property next door. Wood paneling and architectural features were brought in from one of the old Strawbridge mansions on the main line to adorn the walls. Sadly these were later removed during renovations in the 1990s when the space was converted into a nightclub.
Frankie passed away in January of 1976.
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