Business comings and goings: Goodbye Watusi II? Hello Guacamole. Domino’s thwarted on Baltimore Ave.

December 13, 2011

watusi• The building that houses the bar Watusi II at 45th and Locust is for sale and it looks like it will be the end of an establishment that has had sometimes tumultuous relations with its neighbors over the past 20 years. According to the Philadelphia Revenue Department, $67,472 in back taxes is owed on the building at 232 S. 45th St. The four-story, 4,600-square-foot building, which includes upstairs apartments, was listed for sale three weeks ago for $635,000. The building is a former boarding house and the sale includes the Watusi II’s liquor license and long u-shaped bar. Serious renovation would be required on the upstairs floors.

The Watusi II reportedly closed several weeks ago after a neighbor complained of code and zoning violations. The building is owned by Noel Karasanyi, who also owns the Watusi I at 46th and Walnut and the New Third World Lounge at 49th and Catherine. Back taxes are owed on all three properties, according to City records. Karasanyi, who fled Uganda in 1973 and whose home address is in Yeadon, also faces several lawsuits from the City. Complaints about excessive noise and trash have been made by many living near all three places for many years.

• Further north on 45th Street, a small pharmacy is opening in the small strip of shops on the 100 block of S. 45th. We don’t know much about this one yet, but it appears that it will be opening soon.

• Many of you will be delighted to know that Guacamole, the Mexican restaurant many have waited a long time for, opened today at 4612 Woodland Ave. The restaurant is a welcome addition to the cluster of shops on that block of Woodland, which includes Four Worlds Bakery and the Whispering guacamoleLeaves tea shop. The restaurant has about 18 seats and will feature a cooking style from central Mexico. Our trusty reviewer is chomping at the bit to get to this place so look for a story later this week.

• Finally, talk about the Subway opening at the old Pickles and Pies (and many things before that) location at 4533 Baltimore Ave. has heated up in recent days as the Spruce Hill Community Association Zoning Committee prepares its decision for the City zoning authorities (a decision which in the end is not binding). During this discussion, a rumor surfaced that another chain restaurant, Domino’s Pizza, was interested in the old Philadelphia Federal Credit Union Building and small parking lot, which is on the triangular strip of land hemmed in by Baltimore Avenue, Cedar Avenue and 46th Street. We have confirmed that report. Domino’s was interested, but has so far failed to get the required zoning variances.

27 Comments For This Post

  1. D. Says:

    Does anyone know who owns that old PFCU building at 46th and Chester? Are they looking to sell or rent?

  2. Anon Says:

    The Lai family it looks like from BRT records. Not cool, Benny, not cool.

  3. Kim Woodbridge Says:

    Is there anywhere to express our opinion about the Dominos? Or is that pretty much not going to happen? That building has been vacant more than occupied the 10 years I’ve lived here … it would be nice to have something useful there but I’m kind of used to it being empty.

  4. Margie Politzer Says:

    Tomorrow night, Dec. 14 at 7 pm, there will be a Community Zoning Meeting concerning the property at 4610 Cedar Ave. Philly Flavors Ice Cream would like to open an ice cream parlor there.

  5. bill greene Says:

    i really wish that crappy little building would just fall over so something nice could be built on that choice lot. i know some of the immediate neighbors would scream, but i’m thinking that lot could easily handle something 3 to 5 storeys high. it could even be entirely residential. lose the stupid parking lot. keep the park.

  6. Mike Lyons Says:

    @Margie. Is that a Cedar Park Neighbors zoning meeting? Do you know the time/place details?

  7. Bob Says:

    Rumor has it Roost on springfield ave is closing. I heard from a good source that the owners (who also own milk and honey) are having some financial issues.

  8. David Says:

    I’m sad to hear about the rumors of Roost closing. Their chicken is amazing.

  9. Dan Says:

    Everything at Roost is amazing! We gotta keep them open! Go buy some!

  10. mowfaux Says:

    Mexican!! FINALLY!!! I can’t wait until it opens!!

  11. st. bernard Says:

    It would be great to have that little “parking lot” be outside seating for a cafe.

  12. mowfaux Says:

    I always thought it would be cool if they would have made that place an electric car charging station…. I know it’s a bit premature, but it’s a great spot to have something like that

  13. Suzanne Says:

    i’ve lived n this hood since the mid 80’s and that triangle of land with the crappy little hut has been a variety of things. i think dominos would be a terrible idea for a number of reasons.

    and the new third world lounge NEEDS TO GO. it’s an eyesore and that whole patch of businesses on catherine are disgusting. bring back “lip lickins”!

  14. Kim Woodbridge Says:

    Does anyone know the hours for Guacamole? I’ve been waiting for it to open up and am eager to try it out.

  15. Emily Says:

    We tried to go to Guacamole last night around 8 and were turned away. He said they were out of food! He also said they were thinking of extending the hours, which currently is only till 8.

  16. Margie Politzer Says:

    @Mike. Sorry, I should have been notified of follow-up comments but wasn’t. The meeting will be at Renewal Presbyterian Church, 4633 Cedar Ave at 7 pm. I got the notice through Cedar Park Neighbors. The meeting is open to the community.

  17. stephanie Says:

    i would love to get my 20+years in the business hands on the property/liquor license at new third world. i would make it a standard tap/johnny brenda’s/pub and kitchen restaurant and bar with a locally sourced menu and local beers on draft. there would a knowledgeable staff and reliable, trained security.

    chill local djs and open mics.

    anyone have 150K they want to give me?

  18. Anon Says:

    Stephanie, the New Third World isn’t up for sale but it is behind on its property taxes. A property can be forced to sheriff’s sale for just an $800 deposit. Info here:

  19. Jeanne Chang Says:

    How does Watusi II keep opening after being shut down??? Loud beyond belief music blaring out of their doors right now!

  20. stephanie Says:

    the $800. i could manage, but it’s being saddled with the renovations of the building (i hate those painted-over boarded up windows) & purchase of a (probably) damaged liquor license & back taxes that would necessitate the 150K .. plus the obvious : inventory, staffing, security, insurance, the zillion fees & licenses & codes required by the city.

    it would take serious financial dedication to back such a turn-around project.

  21. Jan Says:

    Thank you Jeanne! I’m being “serinaded” by watusti ii’s music right now in my bedroom! It’s unbelievable. We had to run outside twice tonight to see if everything was ok after a very loud fight and screaming. There is a litany of other, even more serious issues that are very concerning when that place is open – l’ll save those comments for a different time.

  22. Anon Says:

    @Jeanne Chang and Jan, link to PLCB to report problem bars:

  23. Sean Dorn Says:

    #1 Domino’s has given up on 4610 Cedar (old PFCU building). Old news. That was shot down almost immediately

    #2 current interested party is Philly Flavor, a local ice cream chain. They will face fervent opposition from the same neighbors who have stopped more than a half-dozen food related proposals for the block, the same reason Domino’s just gave up. The opposition is to any and all food-related variances.

  24. 46er Says:

    I guess Philly Flavor is not local nor small enough. Not too mention their sign is too ugly and their ice cream is tasteless.

  25. Sean Dorn Says:

    It could be the best ice cream on the planet. The people the zoning code is designed to listen to (neighobrs within 300 ft.) are afraid food trash = vermin and are very, very well rehearsed at making sure ZBA hearings go their way.

  26. Kim Woodbridge Says:

    I’ve always thought that location on Baltimore would make a nice garden center / hardware type store because of the outdoor space it has that could be used for plants.

  27. Margie Politzer Says:

    Kim, it was mentioned at the meeting that someone had tried to make that happen in that space but didn’t because it wouldn’t have been financially feasible.

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