The since demolished Broad Street Armory that ignited opposing arguments from locals is in the news again. Sort of. The building next door, a Torre Big & Tall, has the spotlight this time with news of its spring closure.
We’re not sure whether this was one of Carl Dranoff’s goals for his new South Broad Street exclamation point, the SLS International Hotel and Residences, but we’re sure he couldn’t be more pleased if he had planned this from the outset: for the first time since he turned his attention to the Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron has tossed a bouquet to a Dranoff building’s architecture.
Saffron has always given Dranoff props for his business savvy and his commitment to creating lively urban environments, and her review of the SLS tower in today’s Inquirer is no exception. As she wrote, Dranoff “seems to possess a sixth sense about where the real estate market will go next.” His Avenue of the Arts debut, Symphony House, was an example of that sixth sense at work, and as Saffron notes again in her review today, the project got the urbanism right, packing enticing commercial spaces at the street level and finding top-flight tenants to fill them.
But her disdain for the “pink-hued, milk-bottle-shaped” apartment tower – a building that wants badly to be its Modernist self but instead comes off as a Drake Tower wannabe – became well-known.
Yesterday Passyunk Post reported that there was a rumor that Bart Blatstein was going to buy the large vacant lot at Broad and Washington, aka, the Cirque du Soleil lot. Actually, this rumor has been on the wind for quite a while, but real estate deals take forever to go through, and it’ll probably be on the wind for a little longer before we get any confirmation yes or no.
However, a gal has to try, and try I did, so here is a transcript of our on-the-record conversation. If you’d just like to apply this transcript to other rumors surrounding Bart’s real estate deals, feel free.
In April developer Carl Dranoff told Property’s Shannon Rooney, “The best is yet to come on South Broad Street. Later this year, look for a big announcement… We have several equation-changing projects for the city.” He was undoubtedly referring to the news that broke on Hidden City on Nov. 20th: that the company would build an SLS boutique hotel/luxury condo tower — SLS International — at Broad and Spruce.
“Back in the saddle again” is more than just an Aerosmith lyric. It’s what looks to become a familiar refrain as I return time and again to Boot & Saddle, the bar from Avram Hornik and Sean Agnew (Morgan’s Pier, Union Transfer) that restores the country-western joint that closed more than 15 years ago into something altogether new that feels like it hasn’t changed in decades. The western paintings remain from the old Boot & Saddle, as do the stamped-tin walls and ceilings. What is new is a bar illuminated by an I-beam lassoed in thick rope, with six Edison-style bulbs hanging down. And then there’s the 150-person-capacity live-music venue behind a soundproof door at the back of the dining area. Even the much-cooler-than-me waitress admitted needing to Google most of the bands, but the vibe is undeniable. During a British punk band’s set, the bar area’s music matched the live band’s energy; on a quiet Tuesday night, the same bar became a welcoming oasis. The beer list is well-curated, with some hard-to-find American craft brews, and while the cocktail lineup was less successful, you should probably just be drinking whiskey here anyway. Plus, George Sabatino has designed the short and vegetarian-friendly menu with all options coming in under $15. So however the night finds you, this Saddle won’t chafe.
Boot & Saddle [Foobooz]
First appeared in the December, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Boot and Saddle has been an early smash success as a bar and music venue. There has been some good feedback on the original menu as well. Now that menu is getting an expansion under chef Christopher Davis’s watchful eye. Now on the menu is charred broccoli, hash browns, fries, mussels and a pasta of the week.
Also new is a happy hour menu of snacks for $4 and less. Happy hour food specials run from 5 to 7 p.m. Enjoy $3 Pennsylvania beers from 6 to 8 p.m.
With Morgan’s Pier winding down we were wondering what George Sabatino would be getting into this fall. At Feastival he told us that he has been working on the menu at Boot and Saddle and was very excited for who was going to be the executive chef. Today we can tell you that Chris Davis will be the executive chef at Boot and Saddle and will be executing a menu overseen by Sabatino.
Davis comes to Boot and Saddle after a stint at Popolino and as chef de cuisine at Barbuzzo.
The Boot and Saddle has reopened on South Broad Street after decades of neglect. Monday night the completely refurbished bar and music venue opened with Aimee Mann and Ted Leo performing. WXPN’s Matt Shaver filed this report on the concert and the venue. If you’re interested in checking out the Boot and Saddle for yourself, this evening will feature the Citywide Specials performing. The band features Kevin James Holland, who might be more familiar to you as the Best of Philly bartender from West Philadelphia’s Fiume.
Tickets for the show are $8. Admission to the bar is free.
Boot and Saddle [Official Site]
South Broad Street’s Boot and Saddle is reopening this September as a 150-person capacity live music destination with 60-seat bar and restaurant. Closed since 1995, the bar with the giant neon boot on the side will be reopening under the direction of R5 Productions, Sean Agnew, The Bowery Presents and FCM’s Mark Fichera and Avram Hornik.
In addition to local and national artists ranging from punk, metal and indie rock to electronic, singer-songwriters there will even be some country back at the old Country and Western bar.
While live music will be the attraction in the back room, the 60-seat main room and kitchen will be open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The full-service bar will include ten local craft beers on tap plus seasonal beers from around the United States. Also expect to see some inexpensive crowd favorites.
The South Broad Street Neighborhood Association has taken its ire to Facebook, where it has posted a photo of the strange shed that sits outside of Dolphin Tavern. The bar is part of Avram Hornik’s Four Corners Management, which also owns Drinkers, Lucy’s Hat Shop and the soon-to-reopen Boot and Saddle. Four Corners is staging a major South Broad revitalization effort, which is much appreciated. But the shed outside does look, from the photo, out of place.
The Association posted the photo, above, along with these words:
The Dolphin Tavern has a new addition. Besides being dog ugly, it was built without zoning and permits. If you care about how our neighborhood looks, call them and tell them what an eye sore they have created.