PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new sports bar inspired by the life of a beloved relative and one time Wing Bowl champion has opened in South Philly.
A toast of champagne and the cutting of a red ribbon signaled the opening of Toll Man Joe’s across from Tony Luke’s on Oregon Avenue.
“It’s a big day,” says his niece, Lorie Penrose. “Long time coming, we’ve all worked hard around the clock. Seems to be coming together, finally.”
Toll Man Joe’s was designed as a living memorial to the late Joseph Paul, a turnpike toll taker and larger than life character who became a local celebrity for a time after winning WIP’s Wing Bowl in 2000.
Penrose is one of five co-owners who brought this project to fruition over the last six months.
“His presence never left,” she says. “Everybody who knew him has a story and it just brought so many people together and we never expected that. We didn’t think it was gonna take on a theme. An amazing way to honor him!”
Toll Man Joe’s spirit is all over the bar… in photographs of him dressed in a toga, a woman’s one piece bathing and shorts and T-shirt, flipping off the person taking his picture. Then there are the stories that seemingly flow as frequently as the adult beverages.
“Every wedding he stripped on the dance floor,” Penrose says. “He’d put on his shirt and say, he weighed what, 380? ‘Does this shirt make me look fat?’ You were playing shuffleboard and he went into the bathroom, came back out stark naked, shot his next shot, went back in the bathroom and put his clothes back on.”