Gastros Update: Help the Watkins Drinkery Make South Philly Home

John Klein, owner of The Dive bar in Bella Vista, was working on a deal to buy Bella Rosa II, a bar on South 10th Street, and transform it into the kind of gastropub that’s raised neighborhood profiles all over Philadelphia (think Standard Tap, South Philly Tap Room). He planned to call it Watkins Drinkery, install a legit chef, and serve up a full complement of craft brews. “Like if the Royal and the Pope had a very small baby,” says Klein.

Sadly, a multitude of problems ensued — including a drug bust at the location, zoning issues, and unhappy neighbors. Now, because of that bust, the PLCB is holding the liquor license. (Click here to read the entire story, first reported on last summer.)

Watkins Drinkery — a project brimming with potential a year ago — now seems hopelessly stymied. Klein himself guesses his project has just a 50 percent chance of survival, and isn’t helped by the fact that some community members still believe that any bar is a nuisance bar, even though neighborhoods all across the city have been revitalized by similar projects. Klein wants to follow in that tradition. That is, if Watkins Drinkery ever gets the chance to open its doors.

Want to help bring venison nachos and housemade sausage to a Philly neighborhood on the rise? Express your support in an e-mail to the East Passyunk Crossing Neighborhood Association at