This is Did You Know, in which Eater gives you the inside scoop on secrets and hidden features of your favorite restaurants and the buildings that house them. Del Frisco's Philadelphia, which opened in 2008, offers power lunchers and convention attendees prime steaks, seafood, a selection of 75,000 bottles of wine onsite - and a side of unexpected, little-known history.
Built in the 1820's by Ritter & Shay, the team behind another Philadelphia landmark - the US Custom House at 2nd and Chestnut, Del Friscos' most defining exterior feature is the intricate ironwork crafted by the legendary Samuel Yellin, who was once to iron that Tiffany was to windows.
Anyone who's dined at the Philadelphia Del Frisco's has seen the titanic vault door now permanently secured to the wall, behind which is located the restaurant's private dining rooms that still contain the bank's safeboxes on the walls.
But below that sub-floor level is an original bank vault that has been left completely intact. During the building's bank days, only 20 employees had access to the deep-below-ground vault, where large tubes would shoot money drops down. All that's left are creaky file cabinets and spookily empty hallways.
Above ground, three stories of winding metal staircase atop the cloakroom adjacent to the main entrance, exists a small room left entirely off of the blueprints for the building. An oak-paneled chamber, about 14 by 14 square foot, once served as a "mistress room" for the bank's employees, complete with a marble-lined shower. Guess some things never change. There's even a mystery ladder in the ceiling of the room, leading up to nowhere - at least nowhere anyone currently associated with the building has ever been.
Another piece of history left intact inside the restaurant is the original bank clock, affixed above the main dining room's south bar. Unfortunately, the renovation team could never get the long-dormant clock hands to start ticking again. So they set it, permanently, to 5:00 -- and now it's always happy hour at Del Frisco's.
-- Allison Stadd