Resurrecting The Chadds Ford Tavern

And The Tavern shall rise again. At least that's the hope of Phil Ferro who, partnering with the owners of the Brandywine River Hotel, bought the old restaurant on Route 1 between Heyburn and Harvey roads from Tommy Drane and is now renovating the interior with the hope of opening in January.

That hope includes live music, karaoke, DJs, bands and some dancing to bring nightlife to the township.

Twice before Drane tried to find operators for his place, but that proved a bumpy road. Both times the new operators failed and the place that once bustled just fizzled and sat empty.

Ferro is looking to bring the tavern back to life with a combination of the old and the new. He said he came across the tavern several years ago after Drane had struck a deal with one of the former operators, but said he told Drane to keep him in mind if there was any change.

"About a year or 18 months ago I got a call from a friend of Tommy's telling me the tavern was back on the market. I always loved the feel of it, the look of it and the history. I think it's a great space," Ferro said. "It's a great location. I want to resurrect it and bring it back, carry on Tommy Drane's name."

He said the menu would be standard tavern fare but with some modern updates. "A little upscale, modern tavern," he added. "A newer take on the old favorites."

Roast beef sandwiches will be on the menu with shaved ribeye and cheese fondue sauce. There's the basic burger with smoked cheddar and applewood bacon on a brioche bun. Steak frites — a steak and French fry dish — will be available along with home-style food such as Southern fried chicken and Italian favorites such as eggplant and chicken Parmesan. There will also be a weekend brunch.

"And crab cakes. You gotta have crab cakes," Ferro said with a chuckle.

"Overall, being a modern tavern, I just wanted to have the options of the entrées, the sandwiches and the salads with the dishes and the raw bar. I want to cover all the bases," he said. "This way I can appeal to a wider crowd. I want it to be a place people can frequent more than once a week."

But the food is just the start. Music and entertainment turn up the energy.

Sunday nights will be an open mike night. Thursdays will be karaoke nights. Bands and DJs will do their thing Fridays and Saturdays, and after 10 p.m. some tables will be pulled back to open up a dance floor.

As for retaining the history, Ferro said the interior furniture would be the same. The wood is being refinished and the cushions re-upholstered. The bar and tables stay as will the old brass tags with customers' names. The white with black trim will again be the exterior colors.

"I want to call it the past, the present and the future of the Chadds Ford Tavern," Ferro said.

Hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. Food prices will range from $6 to $32.

He's looking for a January open, but is realistic about the process and concedes it might be February. He has to finish redoing the interior with new windows and fresh paint, passing the township inspection and getting the liquor license transferred.

Ferro has 24 years of experience in the food industry and already operates three Delaware County restaurants: TNT, Red Iron American Pub and the Crimson Lounge. But he's eager to make his image of The Chadds Ford Tavern succeed.

"I'm here to stay," he said.

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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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