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A new look for Lou & Choo’s Lounge, a North Philadelphia version of ‘Cheers’

Owners Tracy Hardy and Jennifer Gomez-Hardy rebuilt the interiors and spruced up the outdoors, while chef Bruce Palmer developed fish sandwiches worth a second look.

Customer Bill Blue chatting with owner Tracy Hardy at Lou & Choo's Lounge on Oct. 20.
Customer Bill Blue chatting with owner Tracy Hardy at Lou & Choo's Lounge on Oct. 20.Read moreMICHAEL KLEIN / Staff

The pandemic brought two major changes to Lou & Choo’s Lounge, which for decades has been a version of Cheers on Hunting Park Avenue in the city’s Nicetown-Hunting Park neighborhood.

Owners Tracy Hardy and Jennifer Gomez-Hardy — he’s a longtime Philadelphia political strategist and she’s a lawyer on the board of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania — were giving away food and PPE supplies to their neighbors.

Meanwhile, they rebuilt the interior and spruced up the outdoors, a onetime vacant lot. Also, chef Bruce Palmer, a pescatarian, was developing a signature sandwich — something truly worth seeking out.

You can see the results now: a slick, new barroom, with two side rooms, one whose walls are decorated with photos of Tracy Hardy’s heroes from politics, sports, and entertainment, plus a landscaped patio with room for 500 people. Palmer, who went to Roxborough High with Tracy Hardy, perfected his stuffed fish sandwiches, which he was selling out of his home.

Palmer’s fried salmon fillet has just the thinnest of crusts, and the fish is stuffed with lump crabmeat and layered on toasted bread. Other specialties are stuffed catfish nuggets and stuffed grits (OK, they’re actually topped with salmon, shrimp, and crabmeat). The menu also includes fried seafood platters, buffalo wings, cheesesteaks, hoagies, burgers, gyros, and other sandwiches and salads.

The Hardys, who cater to a 35-plus crowd, bought the place in 2014 from founders Louis Crump and Charles Franklin, who opened in 1984 to serve workers from the now-closed Budd Co. plant nearby. There’s live music on occasion.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday.