How to remember a departed friend and brother who was the life of the party?
Name a sports bar after him.
Friday, Sept. 9 is the debut of Toll Man Joe's (26 E. Oregon Ave., 215-990-3774), taking the stand-alone building across the street from Tony Luke's flagship South Philadelphia location that was Tony Luke's Beef & Beer, Casa Di Pasta, and Flat Iron. It's also across the way, beneath the I-95 overpass, from South Bowl.
Toll Man (or Tollman) Joe was Joseph Paul, a longtime Pennsylvania Turnpike worker at the Norristown Interchange who won WIP's Wing Bowl VIII in 2000. His consumption of 90 wings is a record for fewest wings eaten by a winner.
Joe, who died in 2012, got into competitive eating by winning a charity wing-eating contest at Schileen’s Pub. He then qualified for Wing Bowl by eating a dozen cream-filled doughnuts in five minutes. He was a garrulous guy who was popular among spectators and the gaggle of media that covered the annual contest; he competed a few times after his win, which sent him on a trip to Aruba.
Joe's brother Steve, who owned Gia's Sports Tavern at 28th and Snyder in South Philadelphia, is among a pack of relatives behind the sports bar, including Steve's wife, Ann, their niece Lori Penrose and her husband Tom, and Terri Owens, a longtime manager at the now-gone Finnigan's Wake in Northern Liberties.
The sports bar has a barroom and stage on the first floor, a large private-party space on the second floor, and an enormous outdoor space (still in the process of being set up) for tailgating, plus hundreds of parking spaces under I-95. Two other buildings in the rear of the property are being developed as party spaces.
Menu hits all the pub points: sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, burgers, entrees (priced in the teens), tacos, and of course wings. Nineteen beers populate the craft list, plus eight domestics and six imports.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.