Restaurateur Stephen Starr Rips Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Over City Violence

The James Beard Award winner is exasperated with Philadelphia's rampant violence, he told NBC10 one day after a man was executed in front of a Starr restaurant in Old City.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • At least four people died Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday in shootings, Philadelphia police said.
  • One of the deaths occurred in Old City outside a Stephen Starr restaurant called Buddakan.
  • The city is dealing with an increase in gun violence and murder that other large cities have also experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of Philadelphia's most decorated restaurateurs, Stephen Starr, lashed out at the mayor and the police department on Tuesday after a man was shot and killed in front of his posh Old City restaurant, Buddakan.

That killing and another in Feltonville Monday pushed the number of murders in Philadelphia to at least 125 in just over three months. That's 29% more than at this point last year, city statistics show.

Starr, who won the James Beard Award for best restaurateur in the United States in 2017 and has been nominated four other times, vented that the Center City culinary scene feels overlooked by city officials.

"It feels that the government is leaving the economic epicenter of Center City to fend for itself. I have never seen it this way," Starr said in an email to NBC10 on Tuesday. "The proud entrepreneurs are valiantly trying but we need basic support and protection from our Mayor and police force. (Former Mayor) Ed Rendell rallied us all and reminded us how great this city could be. We need that optimism and leadership right now."

Philadelphia is grappling with a wave of homicides that reached 499 murders last year -- the most since 1990 and the second most since record-keeping began in the early 1960s.

Mayor Jim Kenney said he is tormented daily by the violence in the same way Starr now feels.

"Violence or homicide in any part of the city is as important as in any other part of the city. The fact that someone tragically died at Third and Chestnut is no more important than someone being killed in North Philadelphia or West Philadelphia," Kenney said. "Ed Rendell was a great mayor, was a great governor, a great person. Ed Rendell was not dealing with a pandemic and the proliferation of gun violence that we've never seen before, as we've seen in every other city in the country."

Philly is indeed not the only large city seeing that kind of increase. Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year, according to a report produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Shootings have skyrocketed along with homicides, and that was felt once again Monday.

In total, since 5 p.m. Monday, at least 11 people were shot in Philadelphia and four of them died.

The Old City slaying happened on Chestnut Street, just a few feet away from Starr's Buddakan. As the victim, Jhalil Shands, walked on the sidewalk with his girlfriend at about 9:30 p.m., a minivan pulled up.

Four men jumped out of the van with semiautomatic weapons, walked up to the 25-year-old North Philadelphia man and started shooting. Police counted at least 27 shell casings. There was no argument or robbery beforehand.

Shand was pronounced dead at the scene. His girlfriend was not hurt.

A man was killed on Chestnut Street in Old City Philadelphia Monday, just feet away from restaurants busy with outdoor diners. And he was not the only person who died violently in Philadelphia Monday night. NBC10’s Pamela Osborne reports.

Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said it appeared Shands had been targeted -- but given the busy nature of the street, the shooting could have been worse.

"There were numerous businesses open at the time with people sitting outside, just enjoying the weather, having a drink, having a meal. So although it is a tragedy that we have someone was shot and killed, we are actually very fortunate that there were not additional shooting victims.

The suspects have not been caught. The minivan may have been gold or silver and may have had Maryland plates, Small said.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.

Contact Us