With his Northern Liberties bar/restaurants N. 3rd and Silk City humming along two years ago, Mark Bee was looking to expand into Center City.
Bee considered the defunct Key West nightclub on the back-street Center City corner of Juniper and Chancellor Streets. But in the summer of 2013, a larger venue became available: Sisters - the city's longest-running lesbian bar - had closed after a 17-year run next door at 1320 Chancellor St.
From 1933 till 1986, the place was Frankie Bradley's, an oldtime steakhouse and celeb hangout. Bradley's was succeeded for several years by Hesch's, also a steakhouse, before Sisters opened in 1996.
Bee and building owner Mel Heifetz struck a deal. But shortly after, Bee was stricken with vertigo, a condition that still leaves him favoring darkened rooms.
On Thursday, Jan. 15 - about six months behind schedule - Bee will open Franky Bradley's (1320 Chancellor St., 215-735-0735). That's Franky with a y; Bee says his lawyer suggested a variant spelling.
Franky Bradley's plush atmosphere is a throwback, an homage to the five decades that entertainers and local big shots occupied red banquettes or occupied stools at the U-shaped bar. Its dim lighting is vaguely reminiscent of Hop Sing Laundromat, the Chinatown cocktail bar.
Bee and his manager Joe "Joppy" Ferrone call the look "American medieval," noting the swords and general ye-olde air. In fact, the wood-paneled walls are Tchtochke Central, with all manner of make-ya-blush posters, a Tiffany lamp, a portrait of Pam Grier made out of $1 and $2 bills, a Buddha, an Elvis painting, and scads of signs - which Bee either brought from home or found in random places. The restroom is festooned with newspaper and magazine ads, particularly from 1971.
Bee is putting great stock in the food, hiring David Kane (Bar Ferdinand, Pif, Pumpkin, Silk City) as chef. Menu (here) includes appetizers, sandwiches and entrees ranging from $18 for the gnocchi to $29 for a ribeye. Drinks (here) include 10 beers on tap, six red wines, six white wines, a couple sparkling wines and seven cocktails.
Next to open, in several weeks, will be a music venue and dance club upstairs, with all sorts of live shows. Bee added three stained-glass windows to the second floor, giving the facade a Tudor look.
Hours: open at 5 p.m. daily. Kitchen will be open till 1 a.m. Brunch will follow.