The Boilermaker Sneaks In To Replace Blue Bear Tavern

 Talk about a fast turn-around.

The Blue Bear Tavern–which formerly lived at 216 S. 11th Street–was only dark for something like 9 days before the team from Farmers’ Cabinet got it (quietly) re-opened on Saturday as a craft beer/comfort food/medieval-gothic candle-lit shot-and-a-beer joint serving hot dogs and a menu of custom boilermakers. Which does not sound at all like a concept thrown together at 3am by a bunch of wasted line cooks hanging out behind a Wawa huffing oven cleaner, right?


Actually, take away the Easy Off and the paper bags and that isn’t too far from the truth. According to Farmers’ Cabinet exec Steve Forte, “We were having a great time putting together this menu because it reflects what my team and I feel chefs want to devour after a long day.” Meaning, of course, smoked meats, hand-carved roasts, rotisserie chickens and wieners.

Plus, it also represents the kind of room that vampires want to hang out in. And who doesn’t love vampires?

The new, 150-seat space is two floors, with 28 taps on the ground featuring American craft beers and 12 more upstairs dedicated to local drafts. The upstairs bar will also be running a cocktail program dedicated to “traditional American concoctions” like cobblers and sazeracs (and, one would hope, moonshine, tiki drinks, ridiculous pink things served in martini glasses and anything using Red Bull as a mixer–you know, just to keep with American tradition), while the whole joint will be focused on the art of the boilermaker, with unique beer and liquor pairings that I won’t make fun of at all because I think its an awesome idea (and about time). The place will also feature live music, late-night kitchen hours and an evolving food and drink menu which promises to become more “robust” (in press-release-speak) as the rushed crew get their legs under them.

Since I wasn’t really in the mood for a hand-carved roast eaten by candlelight in a candle-lit gothic cathedral on Saturday night, I missed the Boilermaker’s soft open. But by all means, if any of you out there in Hotcakesland managed to get in here for a drink, let the rest of us know how it went in the comments section.

Because the next time someone’s in the mood for a rotisserie chicken and a couple of Citywides to wash it down with, this might just be their dream bar.

Photo courtesy Phillybeerscene

What’s Next For Blue Bear Tavern? [Foobooz]

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  • Lindsay

    I was there Saturday– awesome space, very Game of Thrones-esque! And deceivingly big inside, like Farmer’s Cabinet. The 3 page menu was scrawled by hand and photocopied; kind of charming, actually, and indicative of the short turn-around. Had 2 golden Belgian ales and a Boiler maker– Ommegang Whit + Vermouth to sip. French fries for dinner with truffled creme fraiche– standard. Staff seemed super excited to have patrons and eager to please. Blues band was on upstairs from 9 pm. Smells brand new inside. Will be back soon!

  • Mike

    I pity the barback who has to clean up the curdled remains of dozens of irish carbombs day in and day out.

    I guess a bar specialising in boilermakers/depthchargers was inevitable, but wow.

  • Insider

    I give it until Fall, for one reason: owner Matt Swartz. His track record with Tap and Table, Fork and Barrel, Atlantic Jazz Yard, and Farmer’s Cabinet (which is still open but on its way out). This guy has to be the worst restauranter in the tri-state area. It is the same thing time and time again: When he is not in Federal prison for committing advance fee scams ripped straight out of a Nigerian 419 leter, he is borrowing capital on his existing failing restaurant to open a new restaurant-then he shuts down the previous restaurant (with no notice and owing thousands to employees, purveyors, and landlords), runs his new restaurant into the ground and rakes up a bunch of new debt, then borrows against that to open another restaurant, and the cycle keeps repeating. After looking at the old comment threads on here from Matt’s ex-Fork and Barrel and Tap and Table employees, I can tell you that they pretty much mirror everything that is going on now with F-Cab- bounced employee paychecks, multiple purveyors suing for non-payment of goods, customers alienated by a restaurant owner who gets loaded at the bar all night with a bunch of working girls in 6 inch stilettos while loudly making homophobic and racist remarks. Not to mention the constant turnover and inability to keep a decent staff. PROTIP: BOH employees may tend to get irritated with an owner who brings wasted strippers into the kitchen during a busy dinner service and allows aforementioned stripper to push the staff off the line so that she can play kitchen and cook herself an off-menu dish. Matt Swartz is a straight up scumbag who destroys every business that he goes into. My advice to the new Boilermaker staff: Don’t get too comfortable, and if you can find another job, TAKE IT! And if you are part of the waitstaff and end up waiting on Matt’s business partner, Matt Scheller, don’t expect a tip- because you won’t get one. As for F-Cab, expect a shitstorm in the comments here within the next couple weeks when it abruptly shuts down and everyone affiliated with it tries to collect on the debt that is owed to them by Matt Scheller and Matt and Colleen Swartz.

  • Easy

    Just put the Bailey’s in souffle cups and the beer in plastic cups. Super classy? Yes! Easy to clean up? Absolutely!
    It fits in w/ the neighborhood!

  • @Mike…not a bottle of Bailey’s to be found here at “The Boilermaker.” We are advocating sipping the shot and beer as opposed to the “depth charge.” They have their place, but our staff has invested a ton of time into coming up with liquors and beers that pair well together. We also are offering the “Citywide” and a few other takes on this classic combo.

  • Drama

    Hi Will, we’re looking forward to drama and unbelievable stories and problems at Boilermaker. That would make it consistent with all the other Matt places.

  • Huh

    @Drama I have some Matt stories but I see that my comment from yesterday has disappeared. Not sure why, as the language that I used was actually cleaner than many of the 104 comments left about Matt Swartz on the one story on this site about Matt’s former restaurant “Fork and Barrel” Closing. There are a few other Fork and Barrel stories on here as well that have comments pretty much identical to my deleted comments, except that mine was in regards to Matt’s failing venture “The Farmer’s Cabinet”. I am assuming that Will came on here and threw a fit but everything that I stated can be backed up by doing a quick online search. Yes, it seems odd that Matt is opening up another restaurant when F-Cab can’t even pay its employees or vendors. A search of current court listings reveals at least 4 open cases against Matt brought by purveyors suing for non-payment of goods or breach of contract. There are also the numerous judgements against Matt (also available through a quick search) that have not been settled, yet somehow he can come up with the money to open this new spot? Ask any F-Cab employee how many of their paychecks have bounced due to lack of funds, or how many people have walked out of that place due to constant abuse. As far as Matt’s penchant for racism/homophobia/public drunkeness/Delilah’s strippers- well that is nothing new, and is well documented on this site in comments going back over a year. Foobooz, please don’t delete our comments because Will doesn’t like them. Especially when there are tons of similar comments from old articles that are still available on this site Although these Matt Swartz stories often border on the unbelievable and insane- Everything said about him is 100% true and there is tons of publicly-accessible evidence online to back it up. He is a horrible businessman and his track record with Fork and Barrel, Tap and Table, Atlantic Jazz Yard, and Farmer’s Cabinet speaks for itself.

  • Matt

    @Huh Keep talkng out of your ass and hiding behind a food blog. It’s sad that you dont have a life.

    • Will

      @”Huh” or “Insider” or whomever. I’m assuming you know me personally and know I don’t “throw fits.” All I ask is that people are fair. The Farmers’ Cabinet, , and The Boilermaker help many of us provide for our families. You are entitled to your opinions, but assuming who you are, your handling of situations jeapordizes everyone in the establishment, much more than anything Matt and Matt have been accused of doing. You have moved on, please continue doing so. Im sure you have all of my contact info. Please use it for anything you may need.

  • David

    Matt, Why do you keep making a fool out of yourself in public? Pay your bills, quit playing games and stop trying to cheat the system.

  • Huh

    Methinks that if Will and Matt focused as much energy on running their business as they do on coming online to refute every single thing written about them on the internet, maybe their restaurants would have a shot at success instead of consistently failing. Hopefully you are not setting yourself up to blame F-Cab and Boilermaker’s inevitable closings on those darn commenters on food blogs. The Farmer’s Cabinet and Boilermaker may provide for the owners and managers but what about the employees? The employees who get fired for no reason other than the owner being drunk once again and in a bad mood? The employees who quit due to Matt’s racism and homophobia? The employees who are left jobless with no notice when Matt decides to shut his business down unexpectedly, leaving nothing behind but a trail of debt (SOURCE: All of Matt’s past restaurants). The black employees who are removed from FOH because “people don’t want to see THAT when they come into an upscale restaurant”? The gay employees who have to worry about a drunken Matt grabbing their bottom and saying “I bet you wish I was the other Matt doing this”? The kitchen employees who don’t want to get pushed off the line in favor of drunken strippers who the owner is trying to impress by letting them cook a meal? No offense Will but I would actually like for Matt to answer these questions as the opinions of his paid errand boy don’t carry much weight. Matt- Do you admit that what is being said of you here is true, or do you believe that this is all a smear campaign brought about by the media, court listings, and 95% of staffers who have worked at Fork and Barrel, Tap and Table, Atlantic Jazz Yard, and Farmer’s Cabinet? Why do you think that you can have a successful restaurant when you keep repeating the same old mistakes that just resulted in closings and lawsuits? Feel free to keep responding on a food blog and further prove my point that you don’t put enough focus on your actual business. Personally, if I were in these guys’ shoes I would be spending my time doing payroll because from what I hear, your F-Cab employees are having a little problem with bounced paychecks. I realize that Matt is Mr. Moneybags Big Baller but for the rest of us, a bounced check can be enough to send our entire bank account into chaos with overdraft fees and insufficient funds to cover the other checks that we wrote thinking that our paycheck would at least be good. It’s a shame that paying your employees and purveyors takes a backseat to sitting on the internet getting upset because people have the audacity to tell the truth about your unscrupulous business practices.

  • maf

    @huh, you obviously have a bone to pick with matt, and you also sound like a digrutnled ex employee. Either way you come off as a jealous, bitter, immature person who can’t seem to let go of the past. My advice to you; move on, there are plenty of jobs out there and if working for matt was so bad then count your blessing that you are no longer employed there.
    Here are a few things you failed to mention about matt and the f-cab; more employees left there due to an overpaid, manipulating, self-serving, miserable ex-bartneder than did because of what you claim about matt. More employees left there due to a chef(now back with stephen starr) who consistently verbally abused front of house and back of house employees, rarely lifted a finger to help his under paid kitchen staff. More people have stayed due to matts generosity and loyalty. He consistently rewards the hard working staff members, and for the ones that don’t do the work…theyre filtered out.
    So, if all the things you claim about him are true and so detrimental to a person’s psyche, why have ninety percent of all the employees, some who have been with him for years, stay and continue to work hard?

  • Wow

    Whoever “Huh” is – this is a food blog, not a psychiatrist’s couch. People read this website for feedback on food and drinks, not to find out about owner’s tax liens and details on their personal lives. I’m seeing more and more of this on this site.

    It’s amazing that you make specific attacks on other people’s personal lives under a pseudonym, and then complain when they take the time to refute you online, without knowing who you are. This means that you are either a coward or have a sketchy background yourself.

    It’s pretty obvious to any reader that you have a chip on your shoulder, but your free time may be best spent going for a good run or maybe even reading a book between your shifts at Chipotle, rather than getting your blood pressure all pumped up here. Just let go and take a few deep breaths. I’m sure you’ll go back to school like you’ve been telling people you will, then you’ll get a real job where you won’t spend your free time posting whiny messages on restaurant owner’s personal lives.

  • j

    When I’m choosing between two businesses to patronize, I sometimes base my decision on factors beyond the service that is provided.

    I would rather spend my money at a locally-owned store than a big-box retailer.

    I’d rather not spend my money at a store that supports causes I disagree with.

    In this case, there is a story behind the operation and management of the businesses that has influenced my decision to not patronize an establishment operated by this team.

    I had eaten and enjoyed a few meals at Fork and Barrel, and saw the great potential that the restaurant had. It seemed busy and there was enthusiasm for the place as a great addition to the neighborhood. Then under (at best) dubious circumstances, the restaurant was packed up in the middle of the night and the landlord (and possibly others) were left ‘holding the bag’.

    This is my perception of what went down. I know there are often different perspectives and I’d like to hear Will and Matt’s view of the events surrounding the closing of F&B.

    Personally, until I hear a different accounting,
    I choose to not patronize these places and encourage my friends to make the same choice.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsHuh

    Hey Matt and Will, will you guys legally be changing your names to “Maf” and “Wow”, or are you just using those names on the comments now? I mean, c’mon, we all know that the F-Cab employees who have been spent weeks trying to collect on bounced paychecks are not going to suddenly come on here and white-knight for the same owner and manager who abuse them on a daily basis for NO PAY. Yup, it doesn’t count as being paid if your check bounces or if you don’t receive a check at all. Also, I think you made a typo- the “90% of employees” who stay with F-Cab should be changed to 9% or maybe %.9 Newsflash guys: Most of the remaining employees that are still at F-Cab know that the place is a sinking ship but they realize that if they stick it out for now, they can get their unemployment benefits just like the Fork and Barrel, Tap and Table, and Atlantic Jazz Yard employees did when those restaurants unexpectedly closed. It also looks a lot better on a resume to say that the company you work for folded, then to say that you quit. But go ahead and keep blaming everybody else. It’s the ex-bartender’s fault, it’s the ex-chef’s fault, everyone just loves working for an abusive drunk who can’t pay them but thinks nothing of stumbling around with a bunch of strippers talking about how rich he is, meanwhile the staff has to hear a new excuse every other week about why their check bounced or why it is not there at all. Anyway Will and Matt aka “Wow” and “Maf”, I’ll take your advice for now and catch up on some reading in between my shifts at Chipotle. Considering that I don’t work at Chipotle, this time between my shifts there will probably last the rest of my lifetime which is about how long it would take to read all of Matt’s court dockets. @J- I agree with you on supporting local businesses and establishments where the staff is treated well. Do you notice that Will and Matt have not refuted any of my accusations? They can’t deny them because they are true, they know they are true, and any past or present employee of Matt’s will back me up on everything I’ve said.

  • 1up

    @J. I was a fairly regular customer at F&B. Instead of posting here, why don’t you stop in Farmers Cabinet and ask Nick, Theresa, Phil, Chris, or Nate what their perspective is on it. They all worked at F&B and are now at Farmers. Dubious circumstances don’t retain employees, do they? Anyway, I popped I to the Boilermaker. Place looks great. Totally different draft list (all American) an it has a Farmers Cab meets Game of Thrones feel. Plus $3 PBR cans. Limited food but the hot dog, yes hot dog, was awesome.

  • HotDog

    The hot dog was awesome ? Matt, please be a little less obvious when you are overhyping your own business.

  • Wow

    @ Huh, or whomever…

    This isn’t Matt or Will, but I am a current employee of one of Matt’s establishments. I’ve been treated with nothing but respect by him, and I don’t appreciate the constant bad mouthing that has nothing to do with the service or food.

    Every business and entrepreneur runs into trouble at some point, whether it be legal, monetary, contractual, or otherwise. The fact that Matt is opening additional restaurants shows that he knows how to run a business, create jobs, and make money for himself.

    All in all, we live in a metropolitan area that is 6+ million deep, so in the grand scheme of things, your opinion doesn’t matter now, and it won’t in the long run. It is obvious that it frustrates you that someone you don’t like or respect is not only successful, but becoming more so as time goes on. This is understandable, but you really should forgive, forget, and move on for your own sake.

  • HotDog2

    I also had the hot dog. It changed my life.

  • Huh

    I agree with HotDog2. It was awesome. I apologize for being such an idiot in my earlier comments.

  • Jimmy

    This online battle was mildly entertaining the first time, but it has been rehashed in essentially the same form at least a dozen times. It is boring, predictable, and annoying. All that we have learned is one of you whines too much and the other lacks enough self-restraint to abstain from responding.

  • EatMyHotDog

    @Huh FYI I am pretty sure “Wow” is Nick, who you probably know as one of the mgrs at FC. Matt brought him up in the original hot dog comment which he posted under the name 1up. The FC honchos are very upset with the comments here so all are jumping into the fray. They are a very mature group of individuals. How do I know all this? I know a lot of things but I also know better than to post my real name here and have to deal with the retaliation. And when I talk about retaliation, I am saying that the retaliation has moved past the point of internet comments and is now taking the form of physical assaults. Since Matt brought up Nick and Phil in his comment, I’d like to know what they have to say about Monday’s incident at FC when a former employee looking to collect his final paycheck ended up having to flag down a police officer after being assaulted by Phil and the bar manager at the behest of Nick. Apparently, if they tell you that your paycheck is not ready at the appointed time (what else is new?) and you say that you are not leaving without it and decide to stand outside and wait around for it, Matt, Nick, and Will will sic their soldiers on you and you can expect to have 2 ppl grip you up from behind and smack you upside the head. Nick, Will, and Matt know who I am talking about but before they decide to pay him a visit to finish him off- I AM NOT THE EMPLOYEE THAT THIS HAPPENED TO! I just happened to witness most of it and later got more details off someone else who I will not name lest you guys decide to beat him up too. All of the neg. comments here about FC and Matt are just the tip of the iceberg- there is much more but I have to get back to work. (And no I don’t work at Chipotle like you accused the other guy of).

  • Wow

    “Soldiers” from the The Farmer’s Cabinet’s oppressive military, who have gone so far as to force you into using fake names for your online gossip. Even in 2012. You can’t make this stuff up. This conversation is getting spicy. Spicy like a burrito from Chipotle. Huh knows what I’m talking about.

  • HotDogBun

    The hot dog wouldn’t be anything without me. I am misunderstood. Don’t judge me on my repetitive repulsive actions, move on after you get repeated toxic poisoning from eating me, grow up. Simply because I am a toxic hotdog bun does not mean whatever is inside me will make you sick as well. I have a lot of hot dogs that have been thrown out of other buns for being foul and they defend me so they can feel temporarily happy in my buns. That means I can’t be an all bad toxic hot dog bun. It’s just my nature.

  • True Believer

    Oh great talking HotDogBun,

    You engage us with your carbohydrates of knowledge, expressed in metaphors and puzzles which challenge and stimulate the mind. A simple Stroehmann roll you are not. Although others claim to be the enlightened one, you are truly the enlightened bun.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsHuh

    Sheesh, this is just crazy how some of these clearly unprofessional restaurant managers/owners continue to post comments on here without denying any of the facts that have been stated (homophobia/racism/lawsuits/bounced paychecks/ strippers on the line/public drunkenness/assualts on employees/shady business deals/yadda yadda yadda). Instead, they’d rather just talk about “Chipotle” in hopes that ID’ing me will shut me up and while they’re at it, lambast people for using pseudonyms when I highly doubt that these dudes’ drivers licenses list government names like “Wow” and “1up”. Yeah I’m using a pseudonym that links back to the original name I used to comment on here because Foobooz does not like it when the same commenters post under different names in the same thread. I will show respect to Foobooz because it is a good site but I could care less about what the bigwigs/part-time internet trolls at F-Cab think. They obviously would rather focus on psuedonyms and Chipotle than even attempting to deny anybody’s accusations because everything that has been said on here about F-Cab is 100% true, and it’s the same ol same ol that was going on at F&B that everyone in the industry has known about for over a year. I guess I will stay tuned for the upcoming entry about one of these F-Cab/Boilermaker bosses going into Chipotle and punching one of the employees in the face because they believe that he/she is the whistleblower behind these comments. To the burrito guy/girl at Chipotle, whoever you are: If you come across this thread you will see that I already stated that I was not you and I apologize for these people believing that I am you, even though I have given no reason for them to believe that and I don’t even think I know who you are. Perhaps this is a good thing though and a sign that I should visit Chipotle soon, see if I can figure out who this other person is, and if we do end up making acquaintance then drinks are in order along with a brainstorming session in regards to which government agencies would be interested in knowing about the illegal and discriminatory practices going on in Matt’s restaurants.

  • Wow

    I am not a manager at any of Matt’s restaurants, just an employee, I promise you that. I am in fact sure he would not want me to post anything here. I am simply defending him from your gossip and hearsay; in any event he is not accountable to you. In Chipotle, after filling our your application, you should definitely brainstorm with your future coworker. To prevent the tiny storm to which you refer, I believe the government agency you should look into is the Administration on Developmental Disabilities to ensure more independence, productivity, and a semblance of a personal life which does not revolve around bringing down others.

  • hotdogbun

    I believe you, Wow hot dog, when you say the previous six employers who fired you for stealing are all wrong. I am glad to cradle inside my toxic hot dog buns like a den of thieves. You have found your perfect home.

  • HG

    I’d really love to know more about the food and drinks at this place. Can anyone who’s recently been there offer some more reviews? It sounds great and I loved the GoT reference. ;) Thanks!

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsHuh

    I just went to Chipotle and I gotta tell you, those burritos blow Boilermaker’s hot dogs away! Anyway guys (Nick, Will, Matt) I got bored with the internet fighting but I wanted to thank you for playing. What initially intended to be one comment on here snowballed into FC mgmt. coming online and showing everyone else just how unprofessional they are. If Matt decides to come back on and post as “Huh” again like he did once already or any other variation of this name, everyone can know that he is just trolling ’cause I’m over this comment thread that is not really going anywhere except for possibly getting some Chipotle employee beat up because FC/Boilermaker management seem to be under some delusion that only people who work at Chipotle have problems with their practices. P.S. “Wow”- we’ll learn soon enough if you truly are just an employee defending the same people who bounce your checks. I’ll look for you in the comments to the inevitable piece on F-Cab’s abrupt closing and subsequent lawsuits. Later Gators

  • No longer interested

    Please, enough from both sides. I’ve been to farmers cabinet multiple times and looked forward to checking out the new concept with friends but now have no desire to do so. All parties come across as petulant children. To the complainer, get people to file charges, criminal or civil, if this stuff is legit. To the management, you responses and behavior make a mockery of the service industry. Under no circumstances will I support your businesses. As someone previously wrote, this is a site for the enjoyment of food and not the public airing of grievances.

  • FatSam

    I just read this entire thread, and hate myself for it. I am planning to commit suicide by eating a toxic hotdog

  • Steve

    I am not a former employee of any of their establishments. I went to F and B in East Falls once before it closed and had such a horrible experience (3 rubbery scallops for $30 + dollars), terrible service (from pretentious staff no less) and WAY overpriced beer (even when they opened the upstairs for American craft beer you were looking at a minimum of $7 a bottle) that I vowed never to go there again. After hearing the horror stories on here and other blogs about the way they treat their employees and their inconsistent kitchen, I’m glad I never gave F Cab a chance. I will not be giving Boilermaker a chance either. I seriously doubt any of their Center City spots will make it through 2012 given their track record

  • Snake

    A restaurant chef is bad with money and likes drinking and strippers?

    Alert the news media!

  • Testosteroni

    hahahahahahahhahaa funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. Is that really him ? lol, a chubster mommmies boy and a pompous midget running a place, no wonder they stash the cash then dash

  • Jay V

    Nothing quite like a FC/F&B/Boilermaker thread.

  • JK

    Couple questions, if anyone wants to answer:
    Are there TVs at this place, to watch the Phils games? Is there live blues music every night, like it says on the official website, or was that specifically related to last week’s Beer Week festivities? Have to say the beer list looks very impressive.

  • Really?

    Shut up!!! Fork and Barrel was weak. Fakers Cabinet food scene was even weaker. Who cares. Move on. Next topic please