Three martini lunches, power ties, table leaping happy hours, characters and caricatures, giant sirloins and bigger egos: these were the symbols of might and right and machismo in the late 80s and 90s when The Palm on Broad Street ruled the roost. Starting in 1989 in the center of Center City’s main thoroughfare – the Bellevue building, this close to seats of government such as City Hall and law ala the Union League – the Palm was where you went to meet, greet and hash over the facts and the lies of what made Philly’s engine purr. Sometimes the food was good, sometimes eh, but fine dining was never the point of The Palm. Getting things done, or at least talked about getting things done, repeatedly, ad infinitum, was.
No more, however: as of March 10, word has it that The Palm Center City would close forevermore.
To be honest, The Palm wasn’t quite the same when, four years ago, the dining spot closed for over a year (until July 2017), for renovations that not only shrunk its physical space but with it its psychic real estate as so many of artist Zach Bird’s caricatures were stripped from its walls, only to lose its old school schmaltzy Philadelphia luster and replace it with hundreds less images of highly less recognizable (or fun and fabulous) faces.
The Palm, returned in 2017 and opened its doors to lighter, brighter color tones, a somber but sparkling new bar in back of the dining room (rather than in The Palm’s entryway, as it was formerly) and a feel of all around lightness when it was, in reality, the heavy theatricality of its noir lighting and leather burnished décor that made the place… exquisite. No matter how much lighter or supposedly in tune with casual dining trends The Palm became, fewer people went. Admit it. When was the last time you were there?
Late-night drop-ins by mayors, DAs, legal eagles, and area celebrities were a thing of the distant past.
An interesting point to consider is that Landry’s Incorporated – the most recent owners of The Palm – has a piece in the ownership of Steak 48 which is set to open later this spring down the street at the corner of Broad and Spruce. Not that Philly has ever been afraid of having too many steak houses, but who knows if this isn’t a possible reason.
Point is, The Palm is gone and with it, an entire era – perhaps – moves into the air of the legendary Philadelphia hang. Sorry to see it go, really.