Friday Saturday Sunday - the lone survivor of Philadelphia's restaurant renaissance of the early '70s - will be sold this summer, as 40-year owner Weaver Lilley has found a buyer willing to keep the name and overarching romantic setting of the two-story Rittenhouse bar-restaurant.
Chad Williams, now chef at Tela's Market in Francisville and a veteran of the Jose Garces universe, is the prospective buyer, with his fiancee, Hanna Whitaker, also a Garces veteran. He said they plan "cosmetic" changes that would require a closing.
The timing of the changeover hinges upon the transfer of the liquor license.
Lilley said on July 7 that he would close Saturday, Aug. 15.
Williams said he wasn't even looking to buy a restaurant when a mutual friend introduced him to Lilley. For his part, Lilley said he had fielded and rejected offers over the years from entrepreneurs who had intended to change the concept.
"This is a great restaurant and it's been around forever for a reason," Williams said, adding that it is important that he and Whitaker "keep its legacy and its following as an upscale but approachable neighborhood restaurant."
Asked if certain FriSatSun signature dishes, such as chicken Dijon and the cream of mushroom soup, would remain, Williams chuckled and said, "I'll find some reincarnation for it. Maybe for anniversaries."
The Tank Bar on the second floor, however, may not live on, he said.
Lilley, still clicking as a professional photographer at 71, has owned FriSatSun for 40 of its 42 years.
The story goes that Jay Gubin, who later started the Restaurant School in West Philadelphia, dared Lilley and another friend to kick in $2,000 a piece to start the restaurant in former coffeehouse at 21st and Rittenhouse.
Four more partners, including Annie Perrier (chef Georges Perrier's wife at the time), got the pot up to $14,000.
It was a heady year, 1973: The Astral Plane debuted at 17th and Lombard Streets. Frog - the game-changer from Steve Poses (now a successful caterer) - jumped out to a fast start on 16th Street near Locust. A week later, in April, Friday Saturday Sunday (then called Friday Saturday Sunday & Thursday Too) opened.
The initial partnership soured over division of duties, Lilley said. As the person who lived closest to the restaurant, he frequently covered for his colleagues. After two years, they planned to sell the place. Lilley said he was moping around the restaurant and a customer replied, "Why don't you buy it?"
"I hadn't thought of that," Lilley said.
Lilley described Williams as sincere and experienced. "He's been out there," he said. "He knows what's going on out. He's in touch with what people want."