Chef Chris Painter headed to Fishtown - and beyond

Wm. Mulherin's Sons is at Front and Master Streets, by the Market-Frankford El. The adjacent building was a rundown garage.

Where is chef Chris Painter going, now that he has left the luxe Rittenhouse Square Italian restaurant Il Pittore, which will close after business Saturday, Jan. 9?

Painter, who worked in the Starr orbit (all told) for 13 years, has what he told me was "the opportunity of a lifetime."

He will become a partner in Method Hospitality, an offshoot of a company that is building a series of apartment-style, extended-stay luxury hotels under the ROOST Apartment Hotel brand, founded and operated by industry veteran Randall Cook and developer David Grasso.

The first ROOST opened in mid-2014 on two floors of the Packard Building at 15th and Chestnut Streets, and the second will open Monday, Jan. 11 at 1831 Chestnut St. in a restored office building near Rittenhouse Square. Each of the Philadelphia ROOST locations has 27 one- and two-bedroom units. (Backgrounder here.)

The company wants to open 20-plus ROOST locations around the country with Method-operated food-and-beverage concepts to enhance the apartment-hotel experience.

To find Painter more immediately, though, look under the Market-Frankford El, on the edge of Fishtown.

Method has been developing a restaurant called Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, restoring a grand brick building that housed a company that rectified whiskey at the turn of the 20th century. It’s at 1355 N. Front St., on the corner of Master Street and across from The El Bar.

Method chief executive Randall Cook describes the food as “urban, wood-fired Italian."

(An Italian restaurant named Mulherin’s? The whiskey business’ name was ornately carved into the facade, and Method saw no good reason to mess either with the facade or the building's history.)

Mulherin’s kitchen has a wood-fired grill as well as a wood-fired oven for pizza to be tended under the auspices of Jonah Fliegelman and Nathan Winkler-Rhoades, the duo from the Pitruco pizza truck and Enjay’s Pizza at Smokey Joe’s in University City.  

The building pretty much had been unused since Prohibition, and Cook said he and Method worked to restore many of the original details in the extensive restoration.

Method also acquired a garage next door and breached the wall to enlarge the space for the restaurant, which will feature house-made everything.