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The Opposite of Govinda’s Replaces the Vegan Pioneer on South Street

The long-running vegetarian restaurant, which moved a few times in its 35 years, is now closed for good

brick corner building with sign that says crown chicken and burger
The sign is up for Crown Chicken & Burger at 600 S. Broad Street.
Rachel Vigoda

Govinda’s, the casual comfort food restaurant that helped launch Philly’s excellent vegan food scene when it opened 35 years ago, is being replaced by its opposite. Opening soon at Broad and South: Crown Chicken & Burger.

Govinda’s first entered the Philly restaurant world in 1985, becoming known for its meat-free cheesesteaks and sandwiches. Owner Haryasva Dasa, a Hare Krishna monk who goes by Hari, set up in a couple of locations before landing at the corner spot at Broad and South about 15 years ago. He also had a small offshoot next door at 1408 South Street, later closed the offshoot, and then eventually closed the corner spot and moved operations into the smaller space.

Over the years, finding reliable staff became as issue — a complaint expressed often by local restauranteurs. In October, Hari left for a month in India. He didn’t have anyone to run the restaurant. When he came back, he decided, at age 69, he was tired. Govinda’s, which had inconsistent hours as of late anyway, stopped opening at all.

Hari owns the building and there’s been interest in the space, he says, but he doesn’t think he’s found the right fit yet.

He still held the lease at the corner, but the landlord let him out of it when a fried chicken and burger restaurant wanted to move in — Hari didn’t want to have anything to do with a restaurant that serves either.

Eater is still gathering intel on Crown Chicken & Burger. There are fast-food restaurants with the same name in New York and New Jersey selling burgers, “Philly cheesesteaks,” lamb gyros, and fried chicken, with at least some of the options halal. It’s not the same as Crown Fried Chicken.

Govinda's

1408 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146 (215) 985-9303 Visit Website

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