An iconic Philadelphia restaurant that was forced to close its doors because of the government shutdown reopened on Saturday.
City Tavern at 3rd and Walnut Streets in the Old City section of the city reopened Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Walter Staib, the owner and Executive Chef of the restaurant, made the announcement during an appearance on the Dom Giordano radio show.
The restaurant, which opened for the first time in 1773 and was frequented by the nation's founding fathers, sits inside Independence National Historical Park and the building is owned by the U.S. National Parks Service.
Both the park and City Tavern were closed on October 1 when the federal government began its new fiscal year without agreeing on how to fund non-essential agencies. Nearly 200 park employees and 80 people at the restaurant were also furloughed because of the funding issue.
While the shutdown continues, the federal government struck a deal with the National Parks Service that will allow states to fund park personnel.
The park service said Thursday it would allow parks to reopen as long as states picked up the cost. The states' payments will not be reimbursed unless Congress passes a law to provide refunds to individual states.
Pennsylvania Congressmen Bob Brady says he played a role in the reopening of City Tavern by pleading with the Federal Department of the Interior on Friday.
"I made a lot of phone calls and did a little bit of twisting of arms," he said. "Why would you not want to let it stay open? You're talking about 80 jobs. And they're the jobs that tug at your heart. The waiters, the waitresses and the bartenders."
While City Tavern is now open, the Liberfty Bell and Independence Hall remain closed.
"When I left home I didn't think about it because I'm in Indiana and that didn't affect me," said Netta Kaake, a tourist who ate at the tavern on Saturday. "But when I got here I thought, 'Oh my gosh!'"
Brady says officials are working to reopen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
"They opened up the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore," Brady said. "We're trying to get that done too. The difference is that the people that protect it are federal employees."
Brady says he spent three hours on Capitol Hill discussing possible solutions for the shutdown. Brady also had a message for tourists who are currently unable to see many of the city's icons.
"I'm sorry and embarassed that this is happening," Brady said.
City Tavern was allowed to remain open during the last government shutdown 17 years ago.