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14 Most Anticipated Spring Openings in Philly

From a farm-focused BYO to a jazz bar with a rooftop garden
March 20, 2015
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by Danya Henninger

For chefs focusing on seasonal cooking with local ingredients (as so many are), there’s no better time to launch a restaurant than spring, as produce begins to curl out of thawing earth and animals of all kinds get their rabbit on. From farm-focused BYOs to garden-centric jazz bars to cheesesteak joints to ice cream shops and more, this season’s crop of newcomers is strong. In rough order of target launch date, here are the 14 most anticipated spring openings in Philly.

Helm

Young chefs Kevin D'Egidio (previously at Stateside) and Michael Griffiths (formerly sous at Fork) are going out on their own with this contemporary American BYO in Olde Kensington (just north of Northern Liberties). Look for locally sourced ingredients in the frequently changing dishes, showcased on a blackboard menu in a space seating about 35.

Target Launch: OpenTable reservations are already being accepted, and the first date available is Thursday, March 26.

1303 N. Fifth St.

Heritage

Jason Evenchik adds to his growing portfolio (Time, Vintage, Growlers, Bar, Garage) with this jazz bar and restaurant in Northern Liberties. The interior, clad in cedar wood and filled with greenery, features a chandelier of old brass instruments and a 40-foot black walnut bar with an impressive brown-spirits selection and a 36-beer tap list. Chef Sean Magee’s menu will be built on ingredients from local farms and the forthcoming rooftop garden.

Target Launch: Grand opening is scheduled for April 1.

914-22 N. Second St.

Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop 

Fishtown will get a big boost in cheesesteak cred once the second location of this Northeast favorite (formerly known as Chink’s) opens on the corner of Frankford and Girard. Fifty seats will be served from a grill that’s just like the original, turning out steak sandwiches, hot dogs and sausages, along with hand-spun shakes. Look for an expanded pickle bar too.

Target Launch: April 1

1 W. Girard Ave.

Tria Fitler Square 

Food is steadily becoming more of a focus at Jon Myerow and Michael McCaulley’s beer-and-wine-centric bars. Their first two (Tria Rittenhouse and Tria Wash West) do just cheese, charcuterie and salads, while their third (Tria Taproom) added flatbreads and appetizers, and their fourth, going into the former Dmitri’s, will have a full kitchen run by chef Karen Nicolas.

Target Launch: Early April

2227 Pine St.

The Vesper

Tucked on a side street in Rittenhouse is this historic former supper club, first chartered at the turn of the 20th century as a private Mummers bar. A group of partners including Chuck Ercole and Jim Israel have completed a total renovation of the interior, comprising a front bar, multiple dining areas with space for live music and dancing, an upstairs banquet room and a downstairs private club (you’ll need to be buzzed in). 

Target Launch: First or second week of April

223 S. Sydenham St.

Same Same

Back from several years of cooking in Ho Chi Minh City (where he also ran a street-food tour business called Back of the Bike), chef Chad Kubanoff is bringing the dishes he learned to make overseas to this fast-casual lunch and dinner spot in Northern Liberties. Vietnamese food is more than just pho — and Kubanoff is determined to show it.

Target Launch: Mid-April

614 N. Second St.

Scratch Biscuits

Mitch Prensky of Supper is setting up a permanent home for the Southern biscuits he and wife Jennifer have been vending at pop-ups and events for several years now. Look for creations like the “Kentucky Klassic,” with Benton’s ham, pimento cheese and pickled green tomato, plus build-your-own biscuit options. 

Target Launch: Late April

1306 Chestnut St.

Big Gay Ice Cream

If you don’t follow them on social media, you might not understand the cult around Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff’s NYC-based ice cream shops. Sure, other places might serve Nutella or Thin Mint shakes, but how many successfully make them seem even more craveable by promoting them with images of The Golden Girls and dogs licking cones? Their Philly storefront will be on South Street just off Broad (right by Juniper Commons).

Target Launch: Before May 1

521 S. Broad St.

Fourth and Cross

A former deli just north of Dickinson Square in Pennsport is being transformed into what proprietor Andrew Michaels calls “a relaxed American bistro” with 30-plus seats. The BYO will rely on local farms and prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner in an open kitchen. ReAnimator beans will be used for coffee.

Target Launch: Early May

1527 S. Fourth St.

Pizzeria Vetri

Marc Vetri, Jeff Benjamin, Jeff Michaud, Brad Spence and their spirited team are going all-in on their casual Neapolitan-style pizzeria. Construction has begun for their second Philadelphia location (set in Rittenhouse between 15th and 16th, Walnut and Locust), and the Renato brick oven is already on its way. A second oven is also being delivered — we hear it's landing on a mobile trailer that will likely be used for catering.

Target Launch: Late May

1615 Chancellor St.

Whetstone Tavern

The corner of Fifth and Bainbridge is inching closer to becoming the second venture from the Brauhaus Schmitz team (just take a look at chef Jeremy Nolen’s impressively thick “playoff beard” for an idea of how long it’s taken). A country-chic dining room is mostly ready to go, where guests can look to pair Nolen’s regional American classics with small-batch bourbons and beer from 20 taps.

Target Launch: Late spring

700 S. Fifth St.

Brick and Mortar

Kennett alum Brian Ricci has signed on as chef for this Loft District bar and restaurant from a group of friends led by Michael Welsh (a former managing partner at Franklin Mortgage). A comfort-food menu will go with a local craft-beer selection, along with bottled and batched cocktails. (Note the minor name change: no more ampersand.)

Target Launch: Late spring

314 N. 12th St.

Bud & Marilyn’s

Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran (Lolita, Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Little Nonna's) are adding another spot to their 13th Street stable. The former Fish/Rhino Bar space on the Locust Street corner will be a classic American eatery, modeled after the restaurant once run by Turney’s grandparents, Bud and Marilyn. Decor will feature retro wallpaper, padded seating and kitschy-cute glassware.

Target Launch: Late spring

1234 Locust St.

Restaurant Neuf

Joncarl Lachman and husband Bob Moysan of hot East Passyunk BYO Noord are branching out with this Italian Market bistro (it’s in the former 943, a turnkey space that’s sat vacant for years). A liquor license and full bar will complement the menu of French-accented North African food (think tagines and squab pastilla) from a semi-open kitchen.

Target Launch: Says Lachman: “I would love to say late spring, but this is my first time dealing with the PLCB, so I really don’t know.”

943 S. Ninth St.

pizza
ice cream
street food
marc vetri
cheesesteaks
fishtown
biscuits
pizzerias
rooftop garden
pizzeria
vietnamese food
spring preview
jazz bars