Like every other restaurateur, Bill and Will Mangan had the pandemic to deal with at their three McKenzie Brew House locations in 2020.
The problems at the father-son’s Berwyn brewpub were particularly vexing.
That location, at 324 Swedesford Rd., is in the thick of the Route 202 office corridor. The hungry and thirsty lunch and happy-hour patrons were gone. King of Prussia, five minutes up the highway, was also nibbling at their business.
Locked into a long lease, they initially considered converting the freestanding building into a food-and-wine shop, but “we settled for something we were already familiar with,” said Will, 29, like his father a graduate of Cornell University’s hospital management program. “We saw the need for a neighborhood hangout but with an elevated experience.”
Last year, the Mangans shut down Berwyn and renovated it from top to bottom, and are in the early days as Will’s + Bill’s Brewery. (“Bill,” incidentally, is after patriarch Bill Mangan Sr., who over the years ran the Drexel Ale House in Upper Darby, La Grande in Chadds Ford, and Café La Grande in Malvern. He passed at age 90 in March 2021.)
It’s still a 200-seat bar-restaurant-brewery, but it’s taken on more of a ski-lodge/throwback, family-friendly air, with enormous, hoop-shaped lighting, wine barrel staves on the walls, and two fireplaces. Portraits of famous Bills and Wills line the walls.
The large, quartz-topped bar, lined with TVs (plus a piano for live music from Thursday to Saturday), is separated from the dining rooms.They pour 12 house beers, aged whiskies, bourbons, ryes and single malts, and the obligatory vodka sodas but made with fresh fruit.
Chef Antonio Bedoya’s menu is a something-for-everyone affair. There’s a starter of salmon tartare with crispy rice cake, pineapple salsa, and avocado cream, plus spicy cheese fondue, Old English crab dip, and raw bar items.
Mains include burgers, salmon BLT wrap, pastas, a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye, and one of the better deals in the western suburbs: a Sunday gravy-type meal of chicken Parm with pasta or rigatoni Bolognese, side Caesar salad, glass of Chianti, and gelato for dessert, all for $22.
The McKenzie Brew Houses in Chadds Ford and Malvern remain.
For now, it’s open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner, starting at 4 p.m. Happy hour runs till 6 p.m.