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.
Schulson also promises outdoor sports and games, such as shuffleboard.