Ray's Happy Birthday Bar: "You're a Star at Ray's"

Ray, standing behind the bar on the far left, opened his business in 1938.

1200 E. Passyunk Avenue

Ray’s “Happy Birthday” Bar has a long history of serving the South Philadelphia community. It all began in 1938, when Anthony “Ray” Capozzoli opened the "saloon" and dedicated his life to greeting everyone who stepped though the door with “Happy Birthday!”

After Ray’s passing in 1997, his son, Lou, took over running the place. In honor of his father, Ray’s Bar was renamed Ray’s “Happy Birthday” Bar. Since that time, Ray’s “Happy Birthday” Bar continues to grow, drawing in locals and tourists alike.

Although certain elements of the décor maintain the history of the establishment (the oak bar and the blue-tile trough that runs along the bottom of it are original), Lou has kept up with the times, adding numerous weekly events that ensure that visitors come in for more than just a drink. Regulars have spread the word, and Friday’s Karaoke Night always draws a crowd. Local bands perform on Saturday nights, and Lou’s own group, The Rage Band, performs the first Saturday of each month. Other events include a Quizzo Night, and just recently, the bar started hosting “Roasts” for regulars.

Ray’s “Happy Birthday” Bar has received much publicity. It has won awards from local papers and has even been used as a location in the movies Explicit Ills and The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone. Upcoming events are posted on the bar’s website at The website even posts Lou’s “joke of the week.”

In September of 2008, Ray’s celebrated its 70th anniversary. Ray’s “Happy Birthday” Bar has truly become a South Philly institution.

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