A bar with a story

A 1920s-themed res­taur­ant could open in Port Rich­mond by late sum­mer.  

  • The exterior of the building where bar-room, a proposed 1920’s themed restaurant, may open this summer. CAROLAN DIFIORE / STAR PHOTO

  • The bar at 2658 E. Clearfield St. in Port Richmond dates back to the early 20th century. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN GANNON

Open­ing a bar at 2658 E. Clear­field St. in Port Rich­mond would be the first busi­ness ven­ture for long-time Phil­adelphia nat­ives Dan Gan­non and An­thony Cep­par­ulo. 

Gan­non said he wasn’t even look­ing to open a res­taur­ant or bar un­til he stumbled upon Clear­field Tav­ern while driv­ing around the neigh­bor­hood al­most two years ago.

“I walked in­to the bar to talk to the bar­tender and asked him wheth­er the own­er was in­ter­ested in selling the place,” Gan­non said, tak­ing note of the bar’s ex­quis­ite an­tique fea­tures. Gan­non gave his con­tact in­form­a­tion to the bar­tender to pass on to the own­er, and by the time he put his keys in the ig­ni­tion to leave, his cell phone rang. 

“The bar­tender must have called the own­er and got right back to me,” Gan­non said. They pur­chased the build­ing soon after, about a year and a half ago, from the ori­gin­al own­ers, whose fam­ily pre­vi­ously owned and op­er­ated the bar since 1916. The build­ing dates back to 1898, ac­cord­ing to Gan­non.

The new res­taur­ant will be called “bar-room.” Gan­non en­vi­sions an old fash­ioned, 1920s-30s era res­taur­ant and bar that will fea­ture many of the build­ing’s ori­gin­al fea­tures. 

Gan­non presen­ted his plans to com­munity mem­bers at a PRO­PAC meet­ing last Thursday and re­ceived un­an­im­ous sup­port. The next step is a Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment hear­ing sched­uled for Tues­day, March 11 at 9:30 a.m.

Gan­non is cur­rently in the pro­cess of re­fur­bish­ing both the in­side and out­side of the prop­erty to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of cus­tom­ers walk­ing in­to an­oth­er time peri­od.

“We want to re­store the bar to its ori­gin­al splendor,” Gan­non said.   

In ad­di­tion to the bar, there is also a din­ing room that seats about 30 cus­tom­ers. 

“We’d have a very unique, au­then­t­ic cap­tiv­at­ing space that util­izes a lot of the things that are already here,” Gan­non said. 

These ori­gin­al fea­tures in­clude a gold tin ceil­ing, Ten­ness­ee pink marble that lines the bar and cherry wood fix­tures. Gan­non said he plans to strip and re­fur­bish the en­tire bar, but re­tain its early 20th cen­tury feel. 

“The goal is to cre­ate an ex­per­i­ence,” Gan­non said. “We’ll have jazz mu­sic play­ing, fea­tur­ing artists like Duke El­ling­ton, Louis Arm­strong, all that rag­time, blues and swing.” 

Gan­non said he hopes bar-room will serve loc­al beer and at­tract loc­al res­id­ents and em­ploy­ees. 

This is one of the first bars of its kind to be brought to Port Rich­mond. Joe Shields, 37, of Thompson Street, said he is look­ing for­ward to a new bar and res­taur­ant open­ing in the neigh­bor­hood. 

“There’s not a lot of res­taur­ants in Port Rich­mond,” said Shields, who was in at­tend­ance at the PRO­PAC meet­ing last Thursday. “It’s nice to see a lot of de­vel­op­ment com­ing up north to this area.” 

There were no signs of op­pos­i­tion from neigh­bors who at­ten­ded the meet­ing, who signed off on Gan­non’s ven­ture, grant­ing him their seal of ap­prov­al. 

Shields said he is ex­cited for bar-room to open and an­ti­cip­ates a suc­cess­ful fu­ture for the new busi­ness. 

“I’ll be there open­ing night,” Shields said. 

Gan­non said he hopes the place will be ready to open by late sum­mer. 

“Any­one who knows Port Rich­mond knows the neigh­bor­hood could be­ne­fit from something like this,” he said.  ••

You can reach at cdifiore@bsmphilly.com.

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