The Farmers' Cabinet closed for 'summer cleaning'

The Farmers' Cabinet, 1111-13 Walnut St.

Another chapter in the drama known as The Farmers' Cabinet:

The Walnut Street bar-restaurant is closed, and a sign on the door indicates it's down through Friday, July 11 for "summer cleaning."

Matt Swartz's bar experienced what I heard was a staff walkout late last week.

This followed last week's sudden shutdown of two other bars that Swartz had been operating - Sutton's Parlor (38 S. 19th St.) and Logan Goat (20th and Arch Streets).

Landlord Pete Antipas told me that he changed the locks shortly after the state filed administrative charges against him over Sutton's liquor license, alleging that Antipas had allowed Swartz to operate his bar without notifying the state.

Swartz's name does not and has never appeared on a liquor license at any Philadelphia bar he has run. Everything is in the name of his wife, Colleen. He did not reply to a message seeking comment.

Farmers' Cabinet was the scene of a bizarre incident in December. State police noticed that the bar's liquor license had been forged to alter the fact that it had expired and had become, in effect, a speakeasy. Swartz was arrested and charged with forgery and related offenses.

He pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and operating an unlicensed bar; he was sentenced to a year's probation and fined $1,000.

Swartz's probation officer, Christina Quartullo, meanwhile, was moonlighting for Swartz as a waitress, in a situation brought to light by Victor Fiorillo of Philadelphia Magazine. Court officials told me that Quartullo was suspended on June 12 with the intent to dismiss in 30 days.

Swartz, from upstate Pennsylvania, made the Philadelphia scene in 2010 with a beer bar in East Falls called Fork & Barrel. Shortly after, he came downtown with the Farmers' Cabinet. But mere months later, in 2011, he shut down Fork & Barrel in the middle of the night, surprising his landlord. 

In 2012, Swartz also opened and closed two bars - The Boilermaker and later The Butcher & the Brewer - at 11th and Locust.

Meanwhile, former employee Nathaneal Rodriguez of North Philadelphia has obtained a judgment in Municipal Court for more than $12,000 in back wages and penalty. Rodriguez, who worked for Swartz and his companies from September 2010 to February 2013 (last as a $550-a-week operations manager), said in court that during his last 14 pay periods, he either received paychecks that could not be cashed or paychecks that were unsigned.

post edited