Those who have been lamenting the loss of John Hatch’s pernil-rabe “jawns” will be reunited with them very soon. Papi Sal’s, the recently shuttered food cart known for its cross-section of Puerto Rican and Philadelphian fare, will begin a three-month residency at Southeast Belmont bar White Owl Social Club in late January.
Late last year, Papi Sal’s owners Hatch and Jess Mummery announced that their rising star food cart, which opened in 2021, would have to close due to a change in statewide food cart regulations. Food carts, as mobile food businesses, have had three ways to get rid of wastewater, historically: They can dump the tanks on their cart, which are typically small; they can tap into a sewer line, which can be hard to find at pods around the city; or they can use large, external wastewater tanks that can be emptied less frequently than the on-cart tanks. In 2023, however, the state prohibited the use of these external tanks, theoretically to reduce the potential risk of leaks that could contaminate local waterways. Without access to sewer lines or the funds to empty their tanks more frequently, some food carts ended up closing, including Meliora Pasta, Marble Queen, and Papi Sal’s.
But instead of disappearing for good, Papi Sal’s will move into White Owl January 28 for a three-month residency, which could potentially become permanent. From 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Hatch and Mummery will serve their famous Jawns — seeded hoagie rolls filled with 20-hour roasted pernil, broccoli rabe, provolone, and sofrito mayo — as well as variations made with chicken tenders and long hots or jackfruit and chickpeas. The menu will also include a few bar-snack-like items, including tostones “nachos” with pork and salsa criolla, or cheese-sauce-smothered fries with broccoli rabe.
“White Owl felt right,” Mummery says. “At our past locations, our struggles have been not having alcohol, or not having good outside seating or good inside seating, and [White Owl] has all of those things. And it’s in our home base location.”
White Owl is located at 1305 SE 8th Avenue. For more details, check out Papi Sal’s Instagram page.