Bars have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. We can now officially count out The Bards at 2013 Walnut St., which opened in late 1995 and closed in mid-March as bars and dining rooms were shut by government order.
In a message posted to its Facebook page on Wednesday, management pointed to the expiration of its lease this month. Although management had intended to extend, it said that “recent events have made that option untenable. The health and safety of our loyal customers and staff must be our main concern.”
“The restrictions imposed by the virus make it impossible for small bars such as The Bards to adhere to the social distancing and other rules and still trade without making substantial losses,” the note said, crediting longtime barman Michael Coll for his service. “It’s been a great long run — and we will always be grateful to the people of Philadelphia for making us part of this great city for so long.” Coll, who worked there for 22 years, said he was unsure of his future.
The Bards, founded by Irish barrister Patrick Whelan and the crew who thereafter opened Plough & the Stars, won instant notice, not only for its authentic, lived-in look, the music, and the Harp and Guinness on tap. The kitchen had Whelan’s mother’s secret recipes for bread pudding, Guinness Irish stew, and a shepherd’s pie made with real cream and thick butter in the mashed potatoes.
“The Bards is … a friendly dining and drinking place that looks and feels — and even sounds — as cozy-comfortable as a Dublin pub,” wrote Inquirer critic Elaine Tait after a visit in November 1995. “The walls are white, the furnishings clean-lined and homey. So what if the fire that glows at the end of the long, narrow restaurant is fake. The welcome here will warm you.”