Bok Bar, the roof deck and social hub on the eighth floor of the repurposed city high school at Eighth and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia, will return for 2020 next week with a few modifications, including a socially minded approach to the staff and the programming.
Coronavirus restrictions have forced the shutdown of Irwin’s, the Middle Eastern restaurant overseen by chef Paul Garberson in Bok’s former nursing classroom, across the hall from the outdoor bar.
Lindsey Scannapieco, managing partner of Bok operator Scout Ltd., said Bok Bar would focus on pop-up dinners and menu takeovers with local chefs, and programming that crosses genres, including DJ sets, fitness classes, panel discussions, and hands-on collaborations and workshops with makers and artists.
Half of the partners are owned by Black and Indigenous people , while 51% are owned by women. A schedule was released Thursday.
Among the restrictions is a limit of four people in an elevator car; the stairs are open for those who wish to hoof it. Right now, tables — spaced at least six feet apart — are limited to six people, and Bok is operating as reservation-only. Masks are required at all times in the building and must be worn until people are seated.
The free reservations hold a table for 90 minutes to two hours; the link will be available at 10 a.m. Thursday. Bok will release reservations for two weeks out with the new week added every Tuesday at 10 a.m.
It’s soft-open from Thursday through Sunday; for access, use Resy. During soft opening, people will be able to order Pizza Plus and get it delivered to their table.
Scannapieco said programming from partners such as KG Strong, Caldera Magazine, and Fleisher Art Memorial will launch July 1 with a panel discussion by Caldera titled “We Ain’t Done Yet,” about the need to step up and step in after the Black Lives Matter protests.
Bok will bring in a series of chefs and restaurants such as Neighborhood Ramen, Sate Kampar, Barkley’s BBQ, and Noord. For the first week, Neighborhood Ramen (July 1 and 2) will serve at Bok while Barkley’s BBQ will cover the weekend.
The Irwin’s space will host special dinners. The first will be a pop-up by Noord and Malik Ali in support of Everybody Eats Philly. Tickets ($100 each) will be available for two seatings on July 3, 4, and 5. Since the dinners will be held on the terrace, attendees get views of the real South Philly fireworks. Irwin’s will also be available for private events with no catering restrictions. Initially the max will be 25 people but it will rise to 50 during the green phase.
Scannapieco says all staff will be paid Philadelphia living wage plus tips. “We have learned that $2.83 per hour plus tip is rooted in racism and we want to better support our staff,” she said in an email to The Inquirer. “We are also instituting a generous sick-leave policy, which will allow our staff to stay healthy and financially secure while working during these unprecedented times.”
Hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday.