There is much debate on the best cheesesteak joint in Philadelphia. However, one cheesesteak shop is distancing itself from the competition as being the eatery that protects its customers the most.
Due to rampant violent crime in Philadelphia, Jim's West Steaks and Hoagies has hired armed guards to protect its patrons.
The cheesesteak joint is so popular that lines of customers can go down the block – exposing patrons to possible street violence.
Saul Landers, the chief financial officer of Jim's West, told WPVI-TV, "Our lines are down the block, so while you're standing here in line, connecting with other people you may not know, we have security right here just to keep you guys safe."
Jim's West Steaks and Hoagies co-owner Cortez Johnson told the outlet, "The violence has spiked. It goes up and down. You want people to feel safe and be safe. So when they come out and eat, they don't have to worry about no type of harm."
Kevon Darden, owner of Presidential Protection Services, has personally guarded customers outside the hoagie restaurant.
Darden said the armed agents who protect the customers are sworn and certified by the state of Pennsylvania to do security work. He added that the armed guards are former military, police, and law enforcement.
Landers said the threat of violence is so prevalent that businesses "have to spend that extra money" to keep customers and employees safe.
The Philly Voice reported, "In 2015, the West Philly Jim's location was targeted by armed robbers, who reportedly made off with $215 in cash stolen from the register and customers who were in the store at the time."
One customer said of the armed agents, "If it deters it (crime), I can't complain. I'm not a big fan of guns, but I get it."
However, another patron said an armed guard "walking around with a machine gun, it's not family-friendly."
The security guard was not armed with a machine gun, but rather an AR-15.
The violence is so overwhelming in the area that the Karco Gas Station in North Philadelphia has also hired armed guards.
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