Southwark, at the leading edge of Philly's cocktail revival and local-ingredient movement from its opening in 2004, will change hands this summer.
Kip and Sheri Waide have an agreement of sale with chef Chris D'Ambro and front-of-the-house Marina De Oliveira for the tavern at Fourth and Bainbridge Streets. D'Ambro said he and De Oliveira, his fiancee, would freshen up the decor but would continue with the Waides' approach to seasonal-American cuisine.
The Southwark name - an old reference to the Queen Village neighborhood - will remain.
Southwark will stay open till settlement, whose date has not been set.
As a bonus, D'Ambro and De Oliveira also plan to open Restaurant Ambra, a 24-seat, upper-end Italian bar/restaurant, in a currently underused piece of the property (705 S. Fourth St.).
D'Ambro started in the business as a 19-year-old helper in the kitchen of Vetri. His other stops include Savona in Gulph Mills, Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square, the Columbus Inn in Wilmington at its revival in 2010, Talula's Table in Kennett Square, and Talula's Garden on Washington Square. He and De Oliveira met at Talula's Garden.
The couple plans to do a couple of weeks of work - D'Ambro's brother Joseph is a craftsman who has worked on such restaurants as Talula's Table and Sovana Bistro - during a summertime transition. Ambra would open six months or so later.
Chris D'Ambro said he and De Oliveira had been looking in vain in the Philly area for a restaurant to purchase. They gave up and moved to Los Cabos, Mexico, where for two years they operated the restaurant at Flora Farm. He was doing all sorts of Euro-style, nose-to-tail cooking, serving livestock raised organically.
When they heard that Southwark was on the market, "we said, 'We need to buy this before somebody else does,' " D'Ambro said. "Everything I love about that place, we want to maintain that."
"It needs a new spark," Sheri Waide said. She and Kip will relocate to Cape May, where they have a house. They don't really have a plan, she said.
With Sheri at the stove and Kip behind the bar, Southwark quickly made a name for its locavore, "Slow Food"-inspired menu and classic cocktails. Along the way, notable chefs - Sam Jacobson and Nick Macri, to name two - did turns in the kitchen, and bar man George Costa - who went on to develop drinks at Pub & Kitchen and Petruce et al. - worked the shakers.
The Inquirer's Craig LaBan elevated Southwark to three bells in 2012.
In its previous life, the building housed French restaurants, including the landmark Alouette.
As the liquor-license transfer was just filed, Harrisburg needs 60 to 90 days to handle the paperwork.