Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blue Bell Inn has been sold

The Lamprechts, who have owned the landmark since World War II, are retiring.

Blue Bell Inn has been sold

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Blue Bell Inn in Montgomery County claims its founding to 1743.
Blue Bell Inn in Montgomery County claims its founding to 1743.

The Blue Bell Inn, which grew out of a mid-18th-century house at a Montgomery County crossroads, has been sold to a developer who intends to refurbish it rather than submit it to a wrecking ball.

John Lamprecht, the restaurant’s chef and owner since 1963, confirmed that developer Bruce Goodman, a longtime customer, will assume control on Sept. 4. His partners in the transaction are Kevin Clib and Scott Dougherty, who own Bridget’s, a steakhouse, and KC’s Alley, a pub, in nearby Ambler. Before joining Clib, Dougherty worked for Lamprecht for 11 years as a maitre d’ and manager.

Goodman said the decision to buy the inn was driven as much by sentimentality as by business. Goodman and his Jenkintown-based company, Goodman Properties, owns and manages 125 commercial properties in the region. In addition to renovations that will include a larger outdoor seating area, Goodman said he planned to develop a separate building on the three-acre plot, at Skippack and Penllyn-Blue Bell Pikes.

Lamprecht, whose father, Johann Lamprecht, and uncle Karl Friedel bought the inn in 1945, said he would retire. “At 76, I need  to quit doing those 15-hour days,” he said. The Blue Bell was among the first fine-dining establishments in central Montgomery County to offer outdoor dining. Even before the recession, Lamprecht carved out a lower-priced bistro to appeal to budget-conscious patrons.

Clib described the new menu, to start Sept. 4, as focused on fresh seafood, and added that he would retain some favorites such as Dover sole and onion rings.

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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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