Tony’s Way is a little Puerto Rican bar nestled below the El in the Frankfort section of Philadelphia. I used to like to stop by here on my my home from an excursion into Center City. It was a great place to have a shot of tequila and a Corona. Shot and a beer. Shot and a beer!
One afternoon I was there and Tony came over to greet me. He smiled broadly and extended his hand and gave me a firm and friendly hand shake. “Welcome to Tony’s Way! If ever anyone gives you any trouble here you see that large gentleman over there in the corner? That’s Ricardo. He’s my cousin. Just call him over and he will take care of it. You see that other dude over there in the other corner? That Eduardo. He’s my other cousin. He can help you too. Enjoy!” Then he walked away to talk to the other customers.
One night I stopped by to see if there were any Puerto Rican girls there that were dying to meet me. As I approached the place I saw that there was a short line to get in. There were two attendants at the door greeting the customers. I noticed they were frisking the guys and letting the girls go on in. When it came my turn they just waved me in. I proceeded to the other side of the horseshoe bar so I could keep an eye on the door. I ordered my usual shot and a beer and watched as the bouncers continued to frisk the guys and pass on the girls. Then it slowly began to dawn on me that, hey! They didn’t frisk me! How come? The only thing I could come up with was that they didn’t consider me dangerous. Now in north Philly that could be hazardous to your health. So I sort of was conflicted about the whole thing and took it as kind of an insult. I asked my drinking companion to my left what he thought about it and he said, “Well, maybe they know you.” “Oh!” I said. I hadn’t thought about that!” So I felt a lot better about it after that and I finished my drink in peace.
Another time I took a Puerto Rican friend of mine there who was visiting from New York. Thought she would like it. Wrong! She was one of those high class New Yoricans and she didn’t really like those little neighborhood dive bars like I did. But she didn’t like J Lo either. Go figure! What are you going to do?!