Pop-up beer garden opens in Kennett

The Creamery, a pop up beer garden, is now open for business.

Call it adaptive reuse, or maybe “tactical urbanism” or maybe even “brew-vitalization,” but all describe the conversion of an old creamery at 401 Birch Street in Kennett Square into a pop-up beer garden.

Transforming the worn-down old building into The Creamery came through the efforts of owner Mike Bontrager and his project manager, Sandra Mulry.

That “tactical urbanism,” according to Bontrager, “is when you get short-term zoning, but prove out a concept. We want to prove that there are good things that can happen here on Birch Street.”

Plans are for The Creamery to be open Thursday through Sunday between now and the end of September.

Cap 1: Matt Ticknor, left, and Michael Kelly, of the Kennett Square Mohicans are in their old style uniforms in honor of Theodore Pennock, one of the brothers who founded the original creamery in 1902 and who played with the original Kennett Square Mohicans. The current team plays “1864” style baseball with the old rules where pitching is underhand and a batter is out if an infielder catchers a groundball on one bounce.

Matt Ticknor, left, and Michael Kelly, of the Kennett Square Mohicans are in their old style uniforms in honor of Theodore Pennock, one of the brothers who founded the original creamery in 1902 and who played with the original Kennett Square Mohicans. The current team plays “1864” style baseball with the old rules where pitching is underhand and a batter is out if an infielder catchers a groundball on one bounce.

Bontrager got the idea a year ago while visiting his daughter in Washington D.C. He said there are many such beer gardens in Philadelphia and other large cities in the country and thought it would be a good idea for the borough.

As he and Mulry developed their plans and researched the old building, they learned that brothers Charles and Theodore Pennock built the old creamery and founded the Eastern Condensed Milk Co. in 1902. The creamery closed in 1909 and was later acquired by Sealtest, a Philadelphia dairy and ice cream company.

Chester County Commissioner Terrance Farrell was also on hand. He jokingly took off on the tactical urbanism phrase, saying it really meant “beer ninjas.”

“But my word, which has been proven throughout the county, is brew-vitalization,” Farrell said.

He explained that there are a number of new beer operations in the boroughs of Kennett and West Chester as well as Phoenixville that have proven successful and bring life into those areas.

“It’s exciting that somebody like Mike and Dot [Bontrager’s wife] were willing to take a risk. I’m pleased to be here on behalf of the county to celebrate with Kennett,” Farrell said.

Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square, called Bontrager a “visionary to be able to picture this beautiful garden in this rundown, underutilized industrial space. We are grateful to him and his team for putting this engaging space for the community together.”

David Fierabend and Molly Lux, of the Groundswell Design Group, play some checkers during the opening of The Creamery. Groundswell did the design for the beer garden.

David Fierabend and Molly Lux, of the Groundswell Design Group, play some checkers during the opening of The Creamery. Groundswell did the design for the beer garden.

Hutchins added that while it’s a temporary beer garden, “we hope it’s permanent in the redevelopment of Birch Street and that it will become a vital part of Kennett Square.”

Bontrager also reflected on the education he received. “As we learned the history, there were just more and more stories that came out of this place. It’s great to be here in a place that celebrates history and celebrates what Kennett Square was.”

One of those stories is baseball-related.

Theodore Pennock was also a member of the Kennett Square Mohicans, an old-time baseball team. He was also the father of Herb Pennock, a Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the old Philadelphia Athletics, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Herb Pennock was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.

Several members of a modern-day Kennett Square Mohicans were on hand in uniform to celebrate the opening of The Creamery.

The Creamery will serve beer, wine and spirits, with an emphasis on craft beers. Food is also available, with prices ranging from $3 for a Bavarian pretzel to $14 for a “Double Biergarten Burger.” There will also be brats, hotdogs, salads, mushrooms and chicken.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. However, alcohol service hours are 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 on Sunday.

Below: Mike Bontrager and Sandra Mulry cut the ribbon to open The Creamery.

 

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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