671-673 Ferry Avenue

This bar appears in the 1887-1888 and 1888-1889 Camden City Directories as being operated by a Charles Kelly. Daniel Kelly ran the bar as late as 1914. John Asbert was the proprietor by 1918.

John Asbert was a Polish immigrant. He was born in what was then Prussia in 1871, and came to America in 1887, and married his wife Martha in 1893. When Prohibition went into effect in 1919, Asbert's saloon-keeping was curtailed, although he continued operations under a soft drink license through at least 1924. By 1930 he had moved to Gloucester City NJ. 

Felix C. Knast and his wife Mary had operated the bar from the 1930s through the early 1950s at 671-673 Ferry Avenue. The bar was then known as the Knast Cafe. On June 2, 1939 the bar was held up "around closing time, by two Negro men wearing masks, one with a gun".

This block of Ferry Avenue was taken in the early 1950s by the City of Camden to make room for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Manor public housing project, Interstate 676 and other projects that did not come to fruition in later years. Like several other of the business owners who were displaced, the Knasts relocated their business nearby. The new Knast cafe was built at 1703 Mulford Street, on the corner of Van Hook and Mulford Street.

The Knast family operated the new bar bar through the early 1970s. By 1974 they had sold the business and Felix and Mary Knast had moved to Glendora NJ. Felix Knast passed away in December of 1981 at the age of 79, survived by his wife, who died in August of 1989.

Advertisement from the First Annual Grand Ball Program

Jefferson Athletic Association

February 21, 1919

Camden Courier-Post - June 2, 1939

Steal Merchants's Auto and Cash, Get Only Tin Box From Bus Driver 

Three masked men, one with a nickel-plated revolver, held up Edward Rosenfeld, wholesale grocer, as he was backing his car into the garage in the rear of his home, 308 Rand street, last night. They took $12 from his pockets, forced him out of his new machine and drove it away.

Rosenfeld told police the bandits had handkerchief-type masks,  but appeared youthful, of medium height.

A short time before two men similarly masked, one also brandishing a nickel-plated revolver, approached Sidney Bauman, of 272 Boyd street, a block distant from the Rosenfeld house as he was putting his car into his garage.

"They told me it was a stickup," Bauman reported to police, "but I gave them an argument and they turned away and beat it. One was wearing a cap and one a hat. It was hard to get an accurate description in the dark, but they seemed youngish and about five feet five or six."

At 1:00 AM today a car answering the description of the one stolen from Rosenfeld was used by masked men who held up Edward Heaton, 824 Woodland Avenue, a bus driver, as he was turning in his receipts at the Newton avenue car barn of Public Service.

There were four men in the machine, Heaton told police. Two jumped out, each handkerchief masked and with a revolver, and stood on either side of him. He was carrying a tin box, in which were his change carrier and other articles, but no money. He had placed, the receipts in his pockets. 11 The men grabbed the tin box and jumped back into the car, which sped away.

At about the same time two Negro men wearing masks, one with a gun, entered a taproom at 673 Ferry Avenue. Philip Knast, the proprietor, was behind the counter and there were four customers in the place. The masked men moved quickly toward Knast and told him "This is a stick-up."

He dodged behind the bar and escaped into a room in the rear. One of the bandits then went  behind the bar and rifled the cash register, getting between $5 and $6, Knast told police. They fled, apparently on foot.  

Drink Up!
The Bars, Taverns, and Clubs of Camden