By Christopher Wink
Tony’s Place wasn’t always on Frankford Avenue, technically speaking.
When the pizza landmark opened in Mayfair in 1951, Tony’s originally promoted itself as being at Barnett and Sackett streets, the same location it has today.
“But no one ever heard of Sackett when we opened,” said Joe Mallamaci, who took over the shop from his father Dominic and brother Tony in 1976. So, in time, they took on the 6300 Frankford Ave. address that most know today.
The shop, famed for its tomato pies, has grown at least three fold since then, and sudden buzz comes in no small part because of last week’s much celebrated reopening of the Devon Theater across the street.
“We waited three years for this,” Mallamaci said.
After hearing about the August 2006 purchase of the then-empty and unusable Devon by the active Mayfair Community Development Corp., Tony’s bought an adjacent storefront. Having bought a second adjacent building in 1980 that added seating for 80, Tony’s now had three buildings offering capacity for more than 200 people.
“But the economy went bad,” Mallamaci said.
So the third room remained closed, save for parties or larger groups with reservations. But now, Mallamaci said, the third room is back.
A group of 24 from Bucks County made reservations weeks in advance of the March 28 Devon opening. A regular crowd may saunter over before or after performances at the Devon, Mallamaci said.
He’s also excited about the Mayfair CDC controlling the storefronts across Frankford Avenue, those that are next to the Devon. He said he expects the CDC to shape the Frankford Corridor, the plan and purpose of CDC members, they say.
“The Mayfair CDC is a great great organization. They purchased that whole block and are really rejuvenating it,” he said.
It’s welcoming for an institution like Mallamaci’s.
In the late 1940s, his uncle Tony opened the original Tony’s Place as a bar at 10th and Jackson streets. But they were lured by the promise of “The Great Northeast.” Seems they made a wise decision, Mallamaci said.
“I wouldn’t have my business anywhere else but Mayfair,” he said. “This is truly the best neighborhood in the city.”
They have another location in Ivyland, Pa.
Tony’s Place 6300 Frankford Ave Mayfair, Philadelphia (215) 335-9851
Photo from John Suder’s Flickr.