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Philly cheesesteak joint hires armed guards amid crime spree

By CM Chaney · September 19, 2023

In brief…

  • Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurant Jim's West Steaks & Hoagies has reopened with armed security guards in response to rising crime in the city.
  • The owners say they hired the guards, equipped with assault rifles, to make customers feel safe while waiting on long lines outside the restaurant.
  • Some customers support the armed guards for security, while others say the presence of assault rifles goes too far and creates an unfriendly atmosphere.
  • The restaurant was robbed at gunpoint in the past.
  • Philadelphia cheesesteak joints have been the sites of violent customer disputes.
Philadelphia restaurant Jim's West Steaks & Hoagies has hired armed guards with assault rifles to in response to rising violent crime.  17parkc/Wikimedia

A popular cheesesteak restaurant in West Philadelphia recently reopened, but with a major new security measure: Armed guards patrolling outside.

Philly’s Jim’s West Steaks & Hoagies now employs guards carrying assault rifles to protect customers in response to rising violent crime across the city.

Owner Cortez Johnson told ABC station WPVI that “violence has spiked” in Philadelphia, which has seen an unprecedented increase in murder and other major category crimes. He wants customers “to feel safe and be safe” while enjoying their sandwiches. The guards will be stationed outside during the restaurant’s busiest hours on weekends.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer Saul Landers noted customers sometimes have to wait in long lines, telling WPVI, “While you’re standing here in line, connecting with other people you may not know, we have security right here just to keep you guys safe.”

The armed security is provided by Presidential Protection Services, whose owner, Kevon Darden, said the guards have military, police or law enforcement experience. Darden said it is important for businesses to spend money on security “to make sure everyone is safe.”

While some customers approved of the added security measure, others had mixed feelings. One man said he doesn’t like guns but “gets it” if they deter crime. Another customer, however, worried about the “optics” of guards openly carrying assault rifles, saying it’s “not family-friendly.”