Well, the bar, anyway. The “Olde Bar” at the Old Original Bookbinder’s in Old City, which has had a makeover and raw bar added to its original, olde-timey woodwork. You catching a theme here? Yeah. Garces and company are looking to capitalize on the storied address and nostalgic memories that people have of Bookbinder’s, but they’re amping up the food and drink side to bring it (a little) more in line with modern tastes.
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Bookbinders owner John Taxin with his wife Jean, in front of Old Original Bookbinders
An open call is now going on for front and back of the house positions for Jose Garces’ new restaurant and bar in the Old Original Bookbinders building at 125 Walnut Street.
Today’s fair runs till 2 p.m. and another fair will be held tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Though first announced in October of 2013, not many more details have been spilled on what Garces has planned for the sprawling restaurant that once was THE Philadelphia restaurant.
Foobooz Jobs [Foobooz]
Olde Bar [Foobooz]
Photo via LoopNet
The most popular office space on the commercial listings site LoopNet is technically 1417 Locust Street, an address attached to the beautiful old building that housed Bookbinder’s for years and now has “Bourbon Street Chicken & Shrimp” as a new menu item at Applebee’s. I tell you, when Bookbinder’s closed and Applebee’s opened, I almost lost my mind. I spent half my youth with clarified butter dribbling down my chin onto a paper bib at that joint, eating lunch with my Dad back in the days when journalism paid well and expense accounts paid better. Nine years old, eating lobster tail, browsing the dozens of photos of luminaries who’d visited the restaurant…I didn’t know how good I had it. Now a night out at Applebee’s — $20 for that new entree — is actually a bit steep.
The month of October saw 658 people checking the listing out for the 20,000-square-foot property, which has frontage on Locust and 15th and commands much of that little alleyway. Speaking of the past, that alleyway used to be home to The Office, the notorious strip club where well-heeled men went to ogle down-at-heels women. A colleague threw me a 30th birthday party there. It was odd but not as odd as you’d think.
The building’s listing reads thusly:
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Photo via COOK
Michael Klein posted his 2014 Philadelphia Restaurant Forecast with all sorts of juicy bits of news and rumor.
Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy are going to be collaborating on another new restaurant. Not many details are revealed but we know Starr has been hiring for a new Italian concept in Philadelphia. Whether this is it or not isn’t so clear. But we have heard whispers of not one but two wood-fired ovens.
UPDATE: Michael Klein is now reporting that Starr and Olexy are going into business together in Fishtown. The next collaboration will be at 1526-30 Frankford Avenue, next to Philadelphia Record Exchange. The project will contain a vegetable garden and will open this spring.
More opening dates and rumors »
Last week’s report that Jose Garces had signed a lease to the original Bookbinders space at 2nd and Walnut created more questions than it answered. Today we have an official statement from the restaurant group that at least sets the context.
Official statement »
Over at the Insider, they’re reporting that Jose Garces has recently signed a lease on the Old Original Bookbinder’s space at 2nd and Walnut.
This is a huge deal for Garces–and I mean that in every sense of the word.
For starters, it’s literally HUGE. Better than 10,000 square feet. Which is bigger than any of his local spaces (with the possible exception of his operations at the Kimmel Center, depending on how he utilizes all the space available to him).
Second, it’s huge because it’s the old Bookbinder’s–a name that still swings a lot of weight in this town. The last guys to take over a restaurant with a name saddled with that kind of history? Nicolas Fanucci and his crew at Le Bec Fin. And we all know how that went.
Third, the Iron Chef already has a pretty full plate. He’s got Rosa Blanca set to open next month in the old Chifa space. Then Volver at the Kimmel Center. Then his other out-of-town operations to worry about. Taking on a space like this is a bold move no matter what he decides to do with it. And the one thing no one knows right this minute? What, exactly, Garces is planning to do with it.
The Insider has some details on the deal itself. You can check out the full story there.
Garces Leases Old Original Bookbinder’s [Insider]
Honest Tom’s Taco Shop is getting good early buzz at 33rd and Arch. [Feeding Frenzy, City Paper]
Meal Ticket has Pete Miller’s new menu for the P.O.P.E., plenty of vegan and vegetarian fare as well as beer inspired dishes. [Meal Ticket]
Wandering Billy Wong has made it to Warminster where he’s opened a BYOB, Billy Wong’s. [Table Talk, Philadelphia Inquirer]
Also in today’s Table Talk, the latest projected opening dates for a bunch of spring projects. [Table Talk, Philadelphia Inquirer]
Burn! Old Orignal Bookbinder’s owner John Taxin has spent $16,000 for four Phillies tickets this year despite money troubles at his landmark restaurant. [Philadelphia Daily News]
Wegman’s Downingtown begins serving beer today. There’ll be 500 brands available. [The Brew Lounge]
We’re not sure if this is the first time we’ve seen Modo Mio chef Peter McAndrews in a national magazine but we’re sure it won’t be the last. McAndrews’ red bliss potato salad gets Esquire’s attention in its May ’09 issue. [Meal Ticket]
The Philadelphia Inquirer has more on Old Original Bookbinders which closed last week for “mechanical problems.” Yesterday attorneys were in court for a bankruptcy hearing.Â
An agreement out of that meeting has given owner John E. Taxin until 5pm Monday to come up with a total of $45,000 for the trustee, PA Department of Revenue and the landlord.Â
In the meantime the restaurant will remain closed for at least 30 days and lawyer James Binns Jr. is attempting to assemble a group of investors to save the dining institution.Â
Old Original Bookbinder’s teeters on rescueÂ [Philadelphia Inquirer]
It doesn’t sound good for Old Original Bookbinders. The restaurant’s voicemail states it is closed due to “mechanical emergencies” and Dan Gross is reporting that the restaurant is behind on its PECO and PGW bills.Â
Old Original Bookbinders closed for “mechanical emergencies”Â [Philly Gossip]
Yes, Sami Davis Jr. at Bookbinders
A reader dropped us this Bookbinders happy hour tip. We’ll take it as just a strange coincidence that she shares the first name with the Bookbinders contact for scheduling happy hours. But anyway, it’s a pretty legit deal even if the tip is not.
$1 Oysters, $1 Nigiri Sushi, $1 California Rolls, $2 Drafts daily from 4 to 7 PM.
Bookbinders [Official Site]