A Less Divey Northern Liberties Spot on the Horizon

Mr. Fox

Jerry's Bar, one of Northern Liberties' decades old dives, closed its doors for good last year. A Foobooz post from February 2011 makes the place seem like some kind of mythic riverwards watering hole steeped in stale smoke and cheap beer.

A look to the past
A year ago

The new owners of the Jerry’s Bar at 129-31 Laurel St. (updated name forthcoming) appeared before members of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association (NLNA) zoning committee in September seeking approval for plans to expand the bar to the second floor and add outdoor seating to the business. At the meeting, a few neighbors expressed a lack of enthusiasm for and anxiety about the outdoor arrangement, prompting the committee to ask the owners to reappear after they had an opportunity to speak with neighbors to attempt to alleviate concerns, according to zoning chair Larry Freedman. Before that happened, the developers called Freedman and indicated a preference to try again for the outdoor seating some other time.

The other day. Look ma, a cornice!

As such, Jerry’s Bar is slated for a resurrection that will open its second floor and add 30 seats and likely be far from the atmosphere it once conjured, much like Northern Liberties is far from what it was a decade ago. This is a good example of an owner compromising on his larger expansion plans; though outdoor seating is not the most important aspect for a bar business, it does add a refreshing element to the atmosphere and appeal of an establishment, to capitalize on an opportunity ripe right now.

A closer view of the side of the building

We first wrote about renovations last November. A year later, the building has been transformed into an attractive brick front the likes of which could be featured in a text book. While we were out taking photos we ran into the former owner, Jerry, who expressed his own admiration for the makeover. And we'd have to agree. Though second- and third-floor renovations were still underway, the new restaurant looks poised to open within a few weeks.

The location enjoys a proximity to SugarHouse, and Michael Samschick's ambitious development of an old block-sized warehouse at Frankford and Delaware Avenues. It is also close to Standard Tap and the second street Northern Liberties commercial corridor. If the food is good, the new Jerry’s stands to become a revived but slightly out-of-the-way local eatery for those interested in avoiding the NoLibs throngs. For us, it's another example of renovating an old building to accommodate the growth of a bustling neighborhood.

--Lou Mancinelli