Dan Gross reports at the Philadelphia Daily News website that the locked-down Independence brewpub will rapidly become a sports bar, confirming what Uncle Jack and Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell said at the time of Independence's abrupt closing. The particulars:
THE OWNERS of the Public House (18th & Cherry) will soon open the Field House (1150 Filbert), a giant, high-end sports bar on the site of the former Independence Brew Pub, which closed abruptly last month.
Brian Harrington confirmed yesterday that he and partner Gary Cardi signed a lease last week on the property and are hoping for a Nov. 15 opening.
They're going for a similar American fare menu to their popular Public House, and Harrington says "it's not your onion rings and frozen appetizers type of place." The bar will have a raw bar and the pair hope to attract conventioneers as well as catering to a local crowd.
Sigh. I guess I should be happy it's at least a local "giant, high-end sports bar", and not another damned ESPN Zone.
But you know? I'm not. I'm still pissed that this great site for a brewpub never reached its full potential. I blame Jim Bell and his pissing contest business tactics, I blame the Dock Street management folks for not committing immediately to the brewery expansion that was desperately needed, and I blame the following owners for their constant announcements of big changes right around the bend that somehow just never occurred. I blame the beer geeks who could never see past the Guinness and Miller Lite taps to give this brewery-handicapped place a fair chance and support the beers that Tim Roberts did such a great job brewing.
Nodding Head's great, Triumph is excellent, and although Manayunk suffers from the same beer confusion Indy did -- I just got a press release about a Corona event there -- there's still damned good beer being made there. (Whoops. Forgot Dock Street. Sorry, haven't had a chance to get there since it opened!) But where the hell are all the brewpubs that should be in this town?
You'd think that with the big Belgian jones this town obviously has -- Bridgid's, Monk's, Eulogy, Abbaye, Zot, the brand-new Belgian Cafe and the Beneluxx Tasting Room -- that a Belgian-beer brewpub like Brewer's Art would be up and running... Anyone? Anyone? Iron Hill, by God, I love you guys, but why no Philly Iron Hill? Can't be the money, right, they've got a big building fund warchest.
Gordon-Biersch builds big lager palaces like mad in Virginia; does Lagerville USA get one? Nope. I'll tell you what: if I were Dick Yuengling, or one of his daughters (okay, try not to think about that one too visually), I'd open a Yuengling brewpub in Philly. It's a freakin' natural, and done right -- like in the Independence site -- it would kill, and they'd sell even more Lager...and maybe we'd finally see some of those specialty recipes from the old days that they used to tease us about. A game menu for that upstate touch, decor like the brewery taproom, a big giftshop, a big promotional on the first day of deer season...you don't have to pay me for the idea, Dick: it's yours. Free.
But no one does anything. All we do is yap about how great we have it here. Well, you know, it's pretty good. Yeah, yeah, I know, I can get a very wide variety of beers, and there are some excellent bars -- I don't really have any complaints about the places that are here, love 'em -- and there are restaurants with real beer lists. I know that, hell, I've said it too, I've been a big friggin' cheerleader for this town.
But I've also been to both Portlands, I've been to Pittsburgh, I've been to DC, I've been to Madison, I've been to Köln and Düsseldorf, and I'm telling you, we could do better, a lot better, and more people should be saying so. Philadelphia needs more brewpubs to truly be a great beer town.
The floor is open.