Last weekend, without fanfare and little notice, one of South Philly's most coveted watering holes--the Triangle Tavern, at 10th and Reed--closed its doors. Since it opened in 1933, the bar has never had to shut its doors because of an economic slump. Now, owner Anthony Fraietta says lost business and the stress of his divorce are forcing him to close up. While he holds out hope that he may find a new partner and reopen, Fraietta blames Delaware Avenue clubs and South Street bars for drawing away local customers. While suburbanites and faithful devotees still show up Friday and Saturday, the barstools are often empty during the week. Some employees believe they weren't told the real reasons for the close, and most found out just days before their last shifts. Even members of the house band, the bar's main attraction, learned the news at the last minute. Eighty-two-year-old Tony Dell, of the Tony Dell Quartet, has performed at the bar for 24 years. Taking over for the infamous Dusty Gale, who died six years ago, Dell sings garbled covers of Eminem and the Doors with unabashed lewdness. His onstage hijinx include dry humping female customers and bastardizing the words to Frank Sinatra faves. "You wanna hear my version of New York, New York?" Dell asked the crowd of about 15 on a recent Saturday night. Dell then crooned, "Start spreadin' your legs." Dell's antics won the devotion of the bar's self-proclaimed "Spice Girls"--four elderly women, clad in polyester and gobs of make-up, who used to dance in front of the band and defend themselves from Dell's mock groping. While Dell always got a cheer when he unbuttoned his shirt, the crowd really gave it up for waitress Gen Balogna's renditions of Patsy Cline standards. Balogna, 48, is the loudest and perhaps the most deliberately foul-mouthed member of the Triangle waitstaff. Last Saturday night, while about a dozen of her co-workers reminisced, she cracked fart jokes. The band is searching for a new venue, but the members are not optimistic, claiming most bars prefer a DJ to a live band. Even if the Triangle reopens, the staff is convinced things will never be the same. "You lose your clients," says 48-year-old waitress Patty Marciana. "I wasn't here in the 1930s," she says. "I don't give a damn. It's what it is to these people here today."
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