Watkins Drinkery and The Dive on the market

South Philly is set to lose the respected watering holes.

In “Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson stated “A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best.” Since the 2005 opening of The Dive, 947 E. Passyunk Ave., and the 2010 dawning of Watkins Drinkery, 1712 S. 10th St., Jonn Klein has lived those utterances to the extreme. The time, though, has come for a change, as the owner and general manager of the revered bars is selling the spaces, with this summer likely set to intensify his farewell to them. 

Feature photo: Jonn Klein has run Watkins Drinkery since its 2010 opening. (Photo by Joseph Myers)


Grilled cheese on a plate. Provolone, roasted peppers, & a balsamic reduction. Served with either fries or our summer salad. Enjoy with your favorite beer.
Watkins Drinkery’s grilled cheese of the week. Provolone, roasted peppers, and a balsamic reduction. Served with either fries or a summer salad. Have it with your favorite beer. (Photo courtesy of Watkins Drinkery.)

“This industry has helped to shape my personality and worldview, but it’s time for me to bow out gracefully,” the 47-year-old said of the existence he has known since 1997. “There are more adventures to have outside of the walls of these businesses.” 

Klein, a Graduate Hospital-area inhabitant, has been looking to sell the establishments since February, with Watkins Drinkery listed as going for $150,000 and The Dive marked at $125,000. Hoping to part with them by November, with input from the Liquor Control Board as an element of the departure, the entrepreneur explained that his line of work is collectively going through “a very difficult time” and that continuing to give the energy needed to oversee the pair of revered locations does not suit his disposition any longer. 

“I’ll be looking to tend to other pursuits that make me happy,” Klein said of his plan to split time between Croatia and Slovakia and enjoy travel possibilities within Europe. “Life is consistently about change, and I need some going forward. That’s only natural.” 

The overseer has become aware of potential suitors and noted that, in theory, something is in the works for the spots. Lacking any declaration from him, though, customers should not presume that a transaction or transactions have occurred. 

“Until you see an orange sign in the window, nothing is complete or concrete,” he said. “However, yes, I’m not going to be changing my mind about looking to say goodbye to the two (sites).”

Watkins Drinkery's "Watkins burger" is 1/2 lb signature beef blend with crispy shallots, horseradish aioli, on a brioche bun.
Watkins Drinkery’s “Watkins burger” is 1/2 lb. signature beef blend with crispy shallots, horseradish aioli, on a brioche bun. (Photo courtesy of Watkin’s Drinkery.)

Having pulled equity from his home to purchase a residence in Croatia, Klein spoke of volunteering at an animal shelter in the Balkans-situated country and helping with humanitarian-centric endeavors in Slovakia. Ahead of his leave, business is continuing as usual at Watkins Drinkery and The Dive, with the former having implemented menu additions in May. In other words, no doom-and-gloom vibe has overcome his workers or patrons, and he hopes that whoever comes to submit the winning bid, with Klein thinking he will have a separate seller for each, will maintain the neighborhood feel that has helped the destinations to win favor. 

“If they remain bars, yeah, I think that will be a given that people will feel connected to them, and if they change, I’d love for them to stay community-oriented somehow,” he said.  

As his days, however many might remain, grow smaller, Klein knows he will take with him fond recollections of interactions with customers and colleagues and feels grateful to have forged strong connections in the East Passyunk Crossing and Bella Vista neighborhoods. 

“While I can’t say that I will miss being anyone’s boss, I will dearly miss being a bartender,” he said. “That’s been a pleasure for a long time.”

Watkins Drinkery
1712 S. 10th St.
Hours: 5 p.m.- 2 a.m.

The Dive
947 E. Passyunk Ave.
Hours: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.