February 7, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Open Table Diner’s Choice Award!

Open Table Diner's Choice Award!

We are pleased to announce that our ratings via Open Table has rated us among the best restaurants in Philadelphia! 

Open Table has notified us with the following message:

"Congratulations!  You've been named a winner onto the January 2014 OpenTable Diners’ Choice restaurant. This means that after dining, OpenTable diners rated your restaurant one of the best."

We have been awarded the following:

Diner's Choice Award: Best Ambiance

Diner's Choice Award: Special Occasion

Click Here to visit our profile on Open Table!

Thank you for rating our restaurant via Open Table (4.5 stars!!!) & we look forward to spending 2014 with you and your family! Cheers! 

With Love,

The Victor Cafe

January 16, 2014Comments are off for this post.

WRTI 90.1 Features The Victor Cafe!

WRTI 90.1 Features The Victor Cafe!

After a fun & memory-filled 2013, we are blessed to kick 2014 off on a great start! Our friends at WRTI 90.1 featured us on air, sharing our long, rich history in music & opera with their many listeners!

"Cities beyond Philadelphia may have restaurants with operatic themes and even singing servers, but how many are the outgrowth of a gramophone shop?  The walls of The Victor Cafe are full of reminders of a time when recording artists signed autographs at the shop or came in to sing.

The Italian neighborhood of South Philly was the venue for the late John DiStefano to build on his love and knowledge of opera. He opened his Victor record shop in 1918. And as time passed, The Victor Cafe was born - a place where opera still abounds."

To listen and see the whole article, Click Here

Thank you & Happy New Year!

Love,

The Victor Cafe

November 25, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Opera Just Isn’t In The Air At Victor’s

"The waitress takes your order, returns promptly with bread and wine, and then rings a small brass bell. Forks pause mid- air. Conversations stop. All eyes are on the young server. “I’m going to sing an aria from Puc- cini’s La Ronde,” she announces brightly. Uh-oh. Can she pull it off? She does. Brilliantly. Winning over even those who prefer Gorgonzola ravioli to opera. It’s no gimmick. When waiters at The Victor Cafe cluster around a table to sing “Happy Birthday,” you’re not at Chuck E. Cheese’s, you’re at La Scala." - Stacia Friedman, ARRIVE 

Click here to read the whole article.

November 25, 2013Comments are off for this post.

The Record Collection

(circa 1924) Shows the café as it's original beginning as a record shop across the street from it's present location. It opened in 1918. The middle 2 men are my father and grandfather (the founder).

(circa 1924) Shows the café as it's original beginning as a record shop across the street from it's present location. It opened in 1918. The middle 2 men are my father and grandfather (the founder).

There are restaurants all over the world with live opera. The Victor Cafe is unique, however, because of an extensive & adored record collection that dates back decades. Historically, the opera singers would sing live to the records. The New York Times published an article discussing the collection and it's history:

"Robert Lyon and Ron Morici are keeping a Philadelphia tradition alive. So is Henry Di Stefano. The tradition lives in a little restaurant in a quiet neighborhood of row houses and shops at 13th and Dickinson in South Philadelphia, not far from Broad Street, a place called the Victor Cafe. The Victor is more than 20 blocks from the Academy of Music, the Center City home of the Philadelphia Opera Company, but in spirit it seems a lot closer. Mr. Lyon demonstrated that the other night as he stepped up into a broad alcove elevated like a stage above the main dining room. Suddenly Mr. Lyon's voice filled the room. It was a soaring tenor so big the accompanying strains of a classical record. After an interval, Mr. Morici took Mr. Lyon's place and lifted another tenor voice while guests at the tables nodded quietly in appreciation. Mr. Lyon & Mr. Morici, in white aprons, then resumed clearing tables and serving the guests." - William Robbins, The New York Times Click here to read the whole article.

 

November 25, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Lois Winter, A Forever Cherished Customer

In 1943, The Victor Cafe was so blessed to welcome a special guest - Lois Winter | Women's Marine Corps. Her daughter was so kind to share her mother Lois' special letters addressed to "Mums & Dad," describing her experiences in Philadelphia & at the Victor Cafe. Below you will find a short note from Kim Pearson, Lois' daughter, followed by Lois' magnificent letters!

"My mother Lois Winter served in the Women’s Marine Corps during World War II. She grew up in a small town about 50 miles outside of Seattle, and when she enlisted she was 21 and had never been farther from home than Oregon. She was stationed first in Washington DC, and then in Philadelphia. As you can see from her photo, she was a lovely young woman and was popular with the servicemen who were stationed there, most of them a long way from home too. It also helped her popularity that she was that rarity at the time – a woman in uniform.

She wrote home often, sharing her adventures with her mother and father. Luckily for us, her mother kept these letters, and gave them to Lois when she died, who also saved them. When Lois died in 2009, we found a huge stash of letters in a box in her closet.

Here are two excerpts from letters describing her experience at The Victor Café. Although I have never been to your café, or even to Philadelphia, I feel like I have been there too." - Kim Pearson

Saturday November 14, 1943
Dearest Mums and Dad,

One of the boys in submarine school, named Hilly, asked me out. His father was one of the admirals stationed in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. This young man took me to a special restaurant in Philadelphia that he had discovered. I’m telling you, we had a night to remember.

We got in this taxi and went down to the industrial section of town, where there seemed to be nothing but dark buildings and deserted streets. Then in the middle of nowhere we stopped in front of this big old dark building. On a side door there was a tiny red neon sign which said something in Italian.

But when we opened the door and went inside – it was filled with music and color and people talking, laughing and singing – it was alive! The maître d’ was singing an aria from an Italian opera in this huge baritone, just booming it out, and the waiters were singing, and the customers were joining in singing. Opera was everywhere! The walls were covered with pictures of famous opera singers, and everyone was having wine and spaghetti, and oh, the noise was incredible. It was like walking onto a lighted stage right in the middle of an Italian opera.

We sat down in the middle of the room and just drank it all in. Hilly was so entertaining; he was a gifted conversationalist, and he loved music, so you can imagine how much fun I had. Then we had to leave, because it was getting close to curfew, even though the restaurant was still hopping.

Hilly was still singing away when we got into the taxi. He was singing a Russian song, and would you believe it, the taxi driver just happened to be Russian and started to sing along! The driver told us about himself, how he had emigrated to the US, and had just recently become a citizen, and how he too liked to sing. So he taught us some Russian songs, and the three of us sang all the way back to the hotel. What a delightful night.

Oceans of Love,
Lois

Lois Winter Story Photo
November 26, 1943
Dearest Mums and Dad,

Well to begin with the daily events. Monday was a quiet evening for us, but on Tuesday “Hilly” my ensign called for a date Wednesday. So Wednesday night Hilly came up and he had his car with him, a long back shiny Buick, mmm that was nice in itself.

Well we went to Victor’s as I knew we would, you remember me telling you of the quaint old Italian café where we went before. We listened to beautiful music, talked, drank wine and ate spaghetti from about eight thirty till twelve thirty. I even sang some opera! Hilly said I sounded good, but I think he was only being nice. Still, what a great evening. I love going there.

She always signed her letters to her parents as:

Oceans of Love, Lois

February 25, 2010Comments are off for this post.

Mike Kunda: “I Am Rocky Balboa”

Mike Kunda, our friend and professional Rocky Balboa impersonator, is featured in the latest article on Narratively, a website that is named one of TIME's "50 Best Websites of 2013," and coins itself as "a platform devoted to original, in-depth and untold stories."

Read the article here and check out some great photos of Mike Kunda & the restaurant! 

Thanks for stopping by. 

Best regards,

The Victor Cafe