When "Best of Billybob" quietly and mysteriously shut its doors over the summer of 2000, many in the Penn community wondered what would become of the famous cheesesteak emporium at the corner of 40th and Spruce streets. To generations of Penn students, Billybob was as much a part of this campus as College Hall or Ben on a Bench. Famous for its greasy cheesesteaks and ecclectic late-night atmosphere, the establishment catered to University students and West Philadelphians alike, and prided itself on remaining open 24 hours -- a considerable rarity where most restaurants start shutting their doors around 10 p.m. Without doubt, the departure of Billybob left a void in Penn's retail landscape last fall. Gone was one of just a pair of 24-hour campus food stops, and gone too -- especially considering the pink-and-teal interior that came along with a 1999 renovation -- was one of the University's most colorful hangouts. That's why it is so welcoming to hear that Billybob will likely open its doors yet again sometime in the coming weeks. Though the details are still unclear -- especially in terms of the new menu -- it is good to know that Penn students will once again have a place to go for cold beer and snacks when the hands of the clock swing past midnight. The anticipated return of Billybob also provides much needed competition for El Diner, the University's new 24-hour restaurant on Walnut Street. By providing an additional outlet for hungry late-night diners, the new Billybob will likely help to ensure that El Diner keeps to its intended standards -- including quality offerings and low prices -- even after the initial rush of student patrons wears off.
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