Lots of bars and restaurants on South Street have come and gone with the times, but Tattooed Mom at 530 South Street has been a mainstay of the corridor since it opened in 1997. And lots of you know that owner Robert Perry has been advocating with Philly’s bicycling community—who make up a large portion of both his employees and clientele—for years, and managed to secure one of the city’s best-used bike corrals. As part of our continued Bicycles Are Business series, we spoke to Robert about bicycling, his own advocacy, and how remaking Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia is a particularly personal subject for him.
You’ve got one of the best-known and most-used Philly bike corrals in front of your business. Why did you decide to get it in the first place?
Thanks for the kind words, we love our corral and use it daily. The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and our neighborhood advocates at the South Street Headhouse District were looking to launch two bike corrals in the area as part of the first wave installed in 2012. Knowing our support from the bike community they reached out to us to identify possible locations for the corrals. I sent them many photos of bikes stacked four or more to a rack out front and offered our support to do whatever we could to bring a rack to our block. With the daily influx of cyclists to the neighborhood and special events we’ve done to support the cycling community, bike parking has always been at a premium here. A corral was a very welcome addition to the neighborhood. Many thanks to the Bicycle Coalition for advocating for more bicycle parking around the city.
What effect do you think bicycling and bicyclists have on your business?
The effect of bicycling here is huge. I bike to work daily as does much of our Tattooed Mom family. We’ve always had amazing support from the cycling community. From the Cycle Messenger World Championships in 2000 to our annual Cranksgiving charity ride for Philabundance; from being a stop on countless alley cats to the host venue for the PBMA Winter Bike Formal, we love any opportunity to be able to give back to the cycling community in some small way. And we’re so thankful for the support over the years from folks that bike from all over the city to our neighborhood to shop, eat, drink, visit and support us and dozens of other local, independent businesses.
You’re a South Philly resident – how important do you think it is to get something done on Washington Avenue, and what would you like that road to eventually look like?
As a South Philly resident who lives just a block south of Washington Avenue, I think it is crucial that we are thoughtful about how this very vital river to river corridor can be improved. The approach should be organic and inclusive: how can we best maximize the potential of this road while serving the needs of residents, businesses, pedestrians, cars, mass transit and, YES, bicyclists. I use Washington Avenue daily as a cyclist and see a huge opportunity for improvement in ways to make the road safer, more efficient, greener and more enjoyable for everyone to use. The Philadelphia Planning Commission’s conceptual plan for Washington Avenue is a good first step. My hope is that it will engage people who use the road in different ways to be open and creative in bringing their past experiences and future hopes for this diverse stretch of the city to the table. The potential to really transform Washington Avenue is there. Let your voice be heard!