Northeast Times

Cook and Shaker will offer modern yet simple comforts

Cook and Shaker, a full-ser­vice res­taur­ant with a bar, will open this month in the former loc­a­tion of Chug-A-Mug bar in Olde Rich­mond.

Laura Vie­gas be­hind the ren­ov­ated Cook and Shaker bar. The space will open this month. MI­KALA JAM­IS­ON / STAR PHOTO

As she paces the re­fur­bished space of her Al­bert Street eat­ery, Laura Vie­gas points out the heft of the work that had to be done.

Vie­gas and her team re­placed win­dows, re­built the bar, ad­ded deep bronze en­graved ceil­ing tiles above the bar and es­sen­tially over­hauled the whole place.

It was a lofty un­der­tak­ing that has Vie­gas anxious to open. She will, she said, by the end of the month. 

Cook and Shaker, at 2301 E. Al­bert St., is loc­ated squarely in the Olde Rich­mond neigh­bor­hood, just ad­ja­cent to Fishtown and East Kens­ing­ton. 

Vie­gas, who has worked in the Phil­adelphia res­taur­ant scene since 2001 — for Farm­i­cia, Bis­tro 7 and White Dog Caf&ea­cute;, among oth­ers — is clear about the goals of her res­taur­ant. 

Mainly, she said, she wants it to re­flect the per­son­al­ity of the neigh­bor­hood it­self — mod­ern, yet proud of its roots, and above all, com­fort­able. 

“I wanted to open something in my own neigh­bor­hood,” Vie­gas told Star earli­er this month. “Things are pro­gress­ing down this way. There’s a mix of old and new in the neigh­bor­hood.” 

Vie­gas has lived in Fishtown for ten years, and has al­ways worked in res­taur­ants. She ex­plained that she sort of “fell in­to” the in­dustry, but came to love it, and wanted to open her own es­tab­lish­ment simply be­cause she wanted to be her own boss.

A lifelong ve­get­ari­an, she said she wanted to of­fer in­ter­est­ing ve­get­able dishes — like the menu’s buf­falo-fried Brus­sels sprouts — as well as what she calls “el­ev­ated com­fort food.” 

Fear not, meat lov­ers — Cook and Shaker will also of­fer neigh­bor­hood stables like saus­age and pep­pers, plus fun stuff like a grilled cheese of the day. 

The even bet­ter news is, Vie­gas said she’s ded­ic­ated to keep­ing things cheap, cozy and ac­cess­ible. Noth­ing on the menu will cost more than $15, and the drinks will be di­verse.

“I didn’t want to os­tra­cize loc­als like some es­tab­lish­ments that only serve ob­scure craft beers,” she said. “We’ll have loc­al beers on tap, and craft beers too.” 

She’ll also of­fer unique cock­tails, in­fused-vod­kas and sea­son­al drinks like spiked hot cider. 

Cook and Shaker, named for both the food and drink of­fer­ings of the place — “A lot of shot-and-beer bars don’t of­fer food, but when I drink, I want to eat,” Vie­gas said with a laugh — will of­fer menu items which in­clude loc­ally-sourced items. The kit­chen doesn’t have a walk-in fridge, which means everything will be made fresh daily.Vie­gas said she be­lieves her res­taur­ant will fill a need of the neigh­bor­hood.

“There’s not too many full-ser­vice places up here, and there’s a need for it. Mem­ph­is Tap­room is one of the only places like this around here, and they’re great,” she said.

“Philly didn’t used to be thought of as a food town, but there’s a lot of good of­fer­ings lately,” Vie­gas con­tin­ued. 

The Cook and Shaker space used to be the Chug-A-Mug bar, which Vie­gas said had a nasty repu­ta­tion for serving un­der­age kids and spill­ing drunk­en, angry pat­rons in­to the streets. 

“I’d heard of people say­ing they found bloody hand­prints on cars out­side the bar,” she said. “I think people in the neigh­bor­hood could tell by the work we’re do­ing [to ren­ov­ate the space] that we aren’t con­tinu­ing that leg­acy.” 

Vie­gas said she’s look­ing for­ward to simply open­ing Cook and Shaker and see­ing how it’s favored in the neigh­bor­hood, but has high hopes for the fu­ture of the 55-seat res­taur­ant.

“At some point I think we could ex­pand next door and add pool tables and more seat­ing. I want to do fun things like ‘spelling bee night,’ and the juke­box has karaoke,” she said. 

It’s clear Vie­gas has a vis­ion, one that the neigh­bor­hood will surely em­brace. After all, she just wants to keep things simple.

“My per­son­al­ity is cas­u­al, so I wanted a cas­u­al place,” she said. “I just want people to feel com­fort­able and en­joy them­selves.” ••

Once Cook and Shaker opens by the end of Oc­to­ber, it will open at 3 p.m. each week day, and serve food un­til mid­night. The bar will be open un­til 2 a.m. each night. On the week­ends, it will open at noon. Vis­it the res­taur­ant on­line at cookand­shaker.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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