Starr brightens dining north of Girard with Frankford Hall

Starr’s Fishtown beer garden in­cludes lots of out­door seat­ing and Ger­man brews,

  When res­taur­ant mogul Steph­en Starr brought plans for a $1.5 mil­lion Ger­man-style beer garden to Fishtown last year, the pro­ject re­ceived an over­whelm­ing vote of neigh­bor­hood sup­port.

But, then for months, little was known about the pro­ject after it re­ceived ap­prov­al from res­id­ents in a meet­ing held by the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation in March of last year.

Have no fear, be­cause after more than a year of pre­par­a­tion, the 100,000-square-foot formerly va­cant in­dus­tri­al struc­ture at 1208-1214 Frank­ford Ave. — dir­ectly across the street from the pop­u­lar Johnny Brenda’s res­taur­ant — opened yes­ter­day.

This week­end, the newly opened Frank­ford Hall will host a gala open­ing week­end with live mu­sic.

“This was an aban­doned build­ing for 20 years,” said Crys­tal Wang, ac­count co­ordin­at­or for New York City-based Bull­frog and Baum, the com­pany that handles all of Starr’s PR moves, as she toured the new eat­ery on Fri­day, May 13.

The new res­taur­ant is a Ger­man-style beer garden, with lots of out­door seat­ing — rows of pic­nic tables will seat about 240 pat­rons in an open-air gravel court­yard — and 160 in­door seats.

There will also be two ping­pong tables out­side.

It’s all sur­roun­ded by three bars — one in­door and two out­side — that will of­fer nine taps of, primar­ily, tra­di­tion­al beers im­por­ted from Ger­many.

“All of our drafts are Ger­man-style ex­cept for three,” said Josh Mann, Frank­ford Hall’s bever­age man­ager.

Along with the ro­tat­ing taps, there is a huge cool­er for 50 kegs and a wide vari­ety of bottled beers — 70 per­cent of which, Mann said, are im­ports.

The tap sys­tem it­self, said Mann, is ad­vanced and it ac­tu­ally cleans it­self thanks to a spe­cial sys­tem of ra­dio waves that kills any bac­teria that builds in the beer lines. Of course, he said, the sys­tem would also be flushed reg­u­larly, but the ad­vanced ra­dio wave clean­ing sys­tem, he said, is in­ten­ded to keep beer tast­ing as crisp and clean as pos­sible.

“This is the most state of the art sys­tem avail­able,” he said. “It’s con­stantly self-clean­ing.”

Mann said the idea of the beer garden was to bring as much Ger­man cul­ture as pos­sible to the new es­tab­lish­ment.

This idea is also re­flec­ted in all the food avail­able at Frank­ford Hall. Food will be served from a walk-up kit­chen that will al­low diners to place their or­der and then take their seats; food run­ners will bring the meals to the pat­rons when it’s ready.

As to the food it­self, Wang said the meals are all very Ger­man-in­spired, with a wide ar­ray of saus­ages — brat­wurst, weis­s­wurst and Kase­frain­er, to name a few — and salads, sauerkraut, schnitzel, spaet­zle with gravy, Bav­ari­an bread dump­lings, fries with curry ketch­up and ro­tis­ser­ie chick­en.

There will also be serv­ers walk­ing around Frank­ford Hall of­fer­ing pret­zels to hungry pat­rons.

“I think the fo­cus here is so­cial­iz­ing and keep­ing it simple,” said Wang.

Just as presen­ted last year, Frank­ford Hall emu­lates the 101-year-old Bo­hemi­an Hall and Beer Garden in As­tor­ia, New York City.

There are also ele­ments –— like the huge steel doors that re­main from the ori­gin­al struc­ture — that are in­ten­ded to re­tain Phil­adelphia’s his­tor­ic fab­ric and in­dus­tri­al feel.

“We wanted to fea­ture the new and the old,” she said.

Much like the ori­gin­al beer gar­dens built in Mu­nich, Ger­many, Wang said the new beer garden would be a neigh­bor­hood-friendly des­tin­a­tion.

Even though there will be mu­sic — live this week­end, but oth­er­wise it would be re­cor­ded mu­sic over an in-house speak­er sys­tem — played in the out­door area, which is sur­roun­ded by 25-foot, ivy-covered walls, Wang said that the team at Starr Res­taur­ants brought in sound tech­ni­cians to en­sure noise from the es­tab­lish­ment wouldn’t im­pact the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hood.

“This is neigh­bor­hood friendly,” she said, as a soft mu­sic played over­head as work­ers toiled to pre­pare for the open­ing on Tues­day, May 17. “It will only be about at loud as it is now.”

While a large per­cent­age of the new Frank­ford Hall is open-air, Wang said Frank­ford Hall will be open year-round.

Plans aren’t fi­nal, but she said the res­taur­ant is plan­ning on adding some type of heat­ing sys­tem to al­low the out­door area to be util­ized year round.

If worse comes to worse, the in­door area can op­er­ate sep­ar­ately from the out­door area by clos­ing glass-paned gar­age doors.

“We ex­pect some sort of heat­ing,” she said. “But right now, we are con­cen­trat­ing on open­ing. It’s go­ing to be great.”

Fi­nally, last year, some res­id­ents ex­pressed con­cerns over park­ing in the area due to the in­flux of cus­tom­ers to Frank­ford Hall. There will be valet park­ing avail­able to keep park­ing con­cerns to a min­im­um.

Frank­ford Hall will be open on week­days from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and week­ends from noon to 2 a.m.



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