Back in May, while Spike TV’s new show Bar Rescue was on location in Philadelphia, host John Taffer told Grub Street that the bar he and his crew were trying to resuscitate, Downey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, was the most disgusting and horrendous place he had ever laid eyes on in his twenty-plus years working as a restaurant and bar consultant. And as more details of what’s been going on at the once-respectable establishment emerge, it’s becoming more apparent that Taffer probably wasn’t just saying that for dramatic effect. Citing “dead rodents, rodent droppings, and a deadbeat owner,” Irish Central, a news site for all things related to the Emerald Isle, has labeled the bar as the Worst Irish Pub in America.
Despite shutting it down for the 51 health-code violations city officials identified in an inspection the day before last St. Patrick’s Day — in addition to dead rodents and droppings from still live ones, inspectors noted roaches, fruit flies, and awful smells in their reports — Donwey’s was permitted to open two days later, while the owner, Domenico Centofanti, addressed the “unacceptable public health and food safety conditions.” To remain open, Centofanti must pay fines and pass two more inspections. But it’s unlikely Downey’s will last long enough for that to happen. Due to many years of unpaid taxes, it’s currently slated for sheriff’s sale on August 2. And if that’s not bad enough, since Bar Rescue’s intervention in May (the actual episode airs on July 24), there’s been reports that Centofanti has repeatedly stiffed his employees, and that fruit flies and other health-code violations remain persistent.