Martin O’Malley Is Coming to the Controversial Point Breeze Beer Garden
The Point Breeze pop-up beer garden has had a lot of ups and downs this summer. Philadelphia’s Licenses & Inspections department shut it down in July, saying the property isn’t zoned to be used as a beer garden. A few days later, a judge ordered that it could reopen, but shortly thereafter it was forced to close again, and then it was soon allowed to, yup, reopen.
The beer garden’s roller-coaster season is ending on a high note for its proprietor: Martin O’Malley, the Democratic presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland, is holding a fundraiser at the pop-up on September 10th. Tickets for the event range from $30 for students to $1,000 for “chairs.”
John Longacre, the man behind the beer garden as well as the South Philadelphia Tap Room, said he has known O’Malley since he was the mayor of Baltimore. O’Malley held that position from 1999 to 2007.
“I’m a supporter,” said Longacre. “I think he’s going to talk about some very relevant things about the urban experience and successes he’s had as a mayor and how it relates to positive change. I think it’s going to be inspiring, and I hope people are going to come out with open minds.”
Longacre said he also might personally talk about the beer garden’s trials and tribulations at the event.
“I might speak to the entire situation. … We’ve done some pretty great things with that pop-up: multiple fundraisers, art events. We’ve brought interest back to that corridor,” he said. “To me, that far outweighs the 10 people that have been protesting us from the beginning.”
A Change.org petition is calling on O’Malley to cancel his fundraiser, saying, “The event host and proprietor of the Point Breeze pop-up is a polarizing force who has shown that he does not care about the concern of neighbors who do not want outdoor public drinking on their block close to their homes. They felt blindsided when an outdoor drinking garden showed up ‘out of nowhere’ without any community input.”
Longacre downplayed the petition, noting that only 17 people have signed it so far.
“My guess is the thing that they’re protesting will be addressed to some degree during the event,” he said. “There will also be a thousand people there. On any given day, I could find 17 people that don’t like a menu item at the Tap Room. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to run it.”
Could the beer garden be shut down again for O’Malley’s fundraiser? The city has appealed Judge Nina Wright Padilla‘s decision to vacate L&I’s cease-and-desist order to the Commonwealth Court, but Longacre said he expects to be open “deep into the fall.”
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