Imagine people eating and getting their drink on, just steps from Independence Hall.
It happened in the 18th century, and it will happen again this summer.
Chef/restaurateur Michael Schulson has secured a deal with the owners of One South Independence Mall West - the landmark Rohm & Haas building and now the home of Dow Chemical at Sixth and Market Streets - to create an outdoor beer garden across from the Liberty Bell.
Schulson, who owns Sampan, The Saint James, and Atlantic City's Izakaya, will control a staggering 30,000 square feet around the building as Independence Beer Garden, which they hope to open July 4. Plan is to run it seven months a year.
He's enlisted Groundswell Design Group, which has lots of experience with outside food setups of this nature, including Morgan's Pier, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's pop-up on South Broad Street, and Winterfest on Penn's Landing.
Food from chef Travis Masar (a contestant on Top Chef Season 11) will be grilled outside and offered self-service from stationary food trucks. Masar told me the menu will be "all-American. ... Almost down-home comfort food, but some healthful items, too." They'll do cheese curds instead of mozzarella sticks.
Groundswell's David Fierabend said pergolas and trees would be erected in what is now a garden area along the building's Sixth Street frontage, with seating. A tent will be erected on the Ranstead Street side.
In case of foul weather, people can be accommodated in the enormous archway between two buildings.