Across the generations


A few months ago, Philip Narducci became more hands-on at his family’s nightclub, Encore. When he got into the groove of things, he suggested something to his nephew.

“It was my uncle’s idea completely,” Joseph Baldino, the club’s general manager, said. “We are always looking to do things to separate ourselves, so we thought of a ‘throwback’ night. It’s sort of like Memories [Lounge in Margate City, N.J.] on The Shore — that kind of music.”

Launching May 3, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays will feature a rotation of neighborhood disc jockeys, spinning their favorites for the crowd.

“First we have Eddie Tully, then Jerry Blavat, Johnny Looch and Robbie Tronco,” Narducci, of the 3200 block of South Broad Street, said. “That’s the first rotation. I’m almost 50 years old and there are not too many places in the city that actually have my age bracket in there.”

Encore, which the family took over six years ago as Heat and renamed last year, is an Old City space that actually features two clubs, with the downstairs spinning Top 40s while the upstairs has hosted the Latin club Brasil’s for about 15 years.

Narducci’s sister and Baldino’s mother, Susan, owns the space, but the two, who hope the newest creation on the lineup will further diversify the club’s appeal, handle the day-to-day operations.

“The crowds are very young, in their 20s,” Narducci said. “There is no place for us to go, like my age. So I said, ‘let me talk to my sister and see if she would want to start oldies night,’ and she agreed to it, to see how it goes over.

“Guys, like Jerry Blavat, who’s known me since I was born, they have their own following and with our friends and family, I think we can have a real nice crowd.”

Narducci attended Stella Maris, formerly at 814 Bigler St., and St. John Neumann High School, then at 2600 Moore St. His nephew went to St. Monica, 1720 W. Ritner St., before also heading to Neumann. When Narducci graduated, his family was already getting down to business.

“After high school, I went straight into Fifth and Moyamensing — Philip’s Steaks,” Narducci, for whom the shop was named at age 15, said.

The family, which runs the business that opened its doors in 1979, closed for two years and reopened in ’84 at 2234 W. Passyunk Ave., makes sure to instill the core values to the next generation early on.

“From a baby, [I was at Philip’s Steaks],” Baldino, who grew up at 19th and Wolf streets and moved to Packer Park a decade ago, said. “I’ve been flipping steaks since I was 3.”

As a natural extension, the family expanded from food service into experiential offerings with Encore.

“I just enjoy being around people. If you come out, you’ll see this place is like New Year’s; just looking around at people’s faces you can see how happy they are,” Narducci said. “I’ve never seen nothing like it. … These people are having a ball.”

With the summer months approaching, the co-managers felt it was a great time for the addition.

“Thursdays in South Philly — there is not much to do,” Baldino said. “Everyone goes down The Shore Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so we hope to make [Encore] your last stop before you head down to The Shore.”

In all of its ventures, the family has made an effort to employ relatives and friends, but makes sure everyone who walks in the door feels at home. When Narducci and his clan set up the first steak shop, they set the groundwork for the tradition Baldino, 27, continues today, with his younger brothers.

“With any business, I have to contribute luck to some things, but we had ups and downs, like every business has, but we took up each others’ slack,” Baldino said. “… We’re just people from South Philly, from the streets, and we do the best we can.”

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