Ron’s Ribs began in 1984 at 1627 South Street; a neighborhood store-front on a block with other traditional South Philadelphia storefronts. For over 60 years, the address was historically operated as a black-owned barbeque establishment. Before Ron’s Ribs, it was Bea Bea’s Lawnside barbeque, there for 40 years as the delicious barbeque place of South Street. Bea Bea’s inherited the business from her uncle Lester so that originally it was Bee Bee’s and Lester’s Lawnside Barbeque. Miss Bea’s was so popular throughout the 50’s and 60’s that she bottled her hot sauce for retail sale in stores across the local area. The tiny restaurant was established in a vibrant, African-American business district, near the Philadelphia Tribune, the Royal Theatre, Dell’s restaurant, Miss Jessie’s Dress Shop, Process Junior’s Barbershop and so many other black owned businesses which thrived for 50 years.
However, in the mid 60’s the threat of highway construction caused panic in the west of Broad Street neighborhood and the businesses in the neighborhood slowly declined. Many area establishments, such as the historic Royal Theater, fell into financial hardship. In the early 80s Miss Bea decided it was time to retire her legendary business and sold it to a young man she had known for most of his life from the neighborhood — Ron Washington.
The summer of 1984, Ron’s Ribs came to life in the perfect location for a downhome rib joint — the renowned “South Street.” The area was known for the nightlife, eateries and shopping. No visit to Philadelphia was complete without a visit to South Street, and most importantly, the epicurean fantasy known as Ron’s Ribs. In 2001, Washington opened another location near the campus of Temple University, but due to his heart failure and his declining health, Ron’s Ribs slowly lost its steam. In 2002, Ron Washington passed away and Ron’s Ribs closed. Two years later, his youngest brother Kevin, re-opened the restaurant. Kevin hoped to continue the Ron Rib’s legacy and pave the way for Ron’s two young sons to carry on their father’s business. Under Kevin’s management, Ron’s Ribs flourished.
From numerous awards, to appearances on national television, to articles in Black Enterprise magazine, it seemed like Ron’s legacy would live on. However, in December 2008, the South Street Bridge closed for reconstruction. This drastically reduced traffic to the area. Sadly, the business was forced to close in 2010 due to the decrease in sales directly linked to the bridge closure.
Currently Ron’s Ribs is closed, but the once thriving hub of African-American business is again on the rise to relive it’s glory days. The area has been rebirthed as a premier neighborhood. Above all, the demand for Ron’s Ribs still remains. There have been numerous inquiries about the re-opening of Ron’s Ribs. Philadelphians and tourists alike miss the legendary Ron’s Ribs on South Street. Due to the recent phenomenon of urban renewal, it is evident the area will continue to grow and flourish. Ron’s Ribs has the opportunity to re-emerge with great results. The return of a 60-year old business would receive a great deal of press recognition. Ron’s Ribs is sure to make an incredible comeback with your help.
In 2013, the eldest son of Ronald Washington, Brandon (adorable baby and food-tasting specialist featured in the commercial), decided to make an effort to reopen the legendary establishment. His efforts were ignited by constant inquiries about the status of the business. While sporting his vintage Ron’s Ribs t-shirt, many people would approach him and ask about the storefront that remains at 1627 South St. He grew frustrated telling those who asked, that the business was no longer in operation. In July 2013, he set out to rekindle the brand by starting a t-shirt campaign. The endeavor was used to induce anticipation and excitement about the possibility of the Bar-B-Q tradition making a comeback. His efforts garnered media buzz from Foobooz, Naked Philly, and Philly.com. Selling over 100 of the Ron’s Ribs labeled t-shirts, Brandon has decided to raise funds selling T-shirts and "Ron's Secret Sauce" in order to purchase a food truck. Ron’s Ribs has the opportunity to re-emerge with great results. The return of a 60-year old business would receive a great deal of press recognition. Ron’s Ribs is sure to make an incredible comeback with the help of investors.