Mosaics at 402 South Street

Jim’s Steaks 402 South Street building was previously the home of Julia and Isaiah Zagar and the original location of their store, the Eye’s Gallery.

Isaiah Zagar (born 1939) is the creator of the world-famous art environment Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South Street) and more than 200 public mosaic murals. His wife Julia Zagar (born 1940) ran her folk art store in this building from 1968-2022. The couple lived in this building from 1968-1984. During that time the two artists embellished the space, adding mosaics and other artworks that chronicled their lives.

Isaiah Zagar’s mosaics are widely known. His largest publicly accessible work is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, an immersive mixed media art environment that is now a museum and non-profit, just a few blocks from Jim’s Steaks. 402 South Street was the first building Isaiah ever mosaicked. He used the work as therapy after experiencing a mental health crisis. The work also serves as a journal of his life. It references people and places that he loves, celebrates the beauty of the human body, and includes everyday objects next to special one-of-a-kind pieces.

Isaiah and Julia traveled the world, bringing international folk art to Philadelphia. They have a particular love for Mexico and formed relationships with folk artists there, many of whom they have worked with for generations. Many of the tiles and sculptures throughout the building are from Mexico.

In July 2022 a fire at Jim’s Steaks caused significant damage to both buildings. At 83 years old, Julia was faced with the reality that it would be nearly impossible to bring the building back to life in the state it was in. She made the decision to sell the building to Ken Silver, the owner of Jim’s Steaks, who vowed to protect as much of the building’s history and Zagar family legacy as possible.

Instead of retiring, Julia moved the Eye’s Gallery just steps away to 327 South Street in April 2023. In May 2024 Jim’s Steaks reopened to the public with additional seating throughout the former Eye’s Gallery building at 402 South Street. Silver worked closely with Philadelphia’s Magic Garden’s Preservation Team to restore and reinstall as many of the original mosaics as possible. The team was also able to install many brand new mosaics chronicling the fire, events, and people that brought the building back to life.

Explore more mosaics by Isaiah Zagar

Visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Read more about the collaboration between Jim’s and the Eye’s Gallery