If Fond wasn't already the poster child for the revival of East Passyunk, their new space at 11th and Tasker certainly secures that role. Owners Lee Styer, Jessie Prawlucki and Tory Keomanivong opened the doors of Fond in 2009 on a shoestring budget and the hope that all the up-and-coming hype for East Passyunk was for real. Well, it was, and they made the most of it, receiving tons of critical praise, and landing at number 5 on our illustrious Eater 38.
Earlier this year, the Fond crew announced they were moving into a bigger space, and adding a liquor license. The throngs of fans bemoaned the loss of BYOB, but Styer promised diners could still bring their own booze for free during the week, and a paltry $10 corkage fee would hit checks on the weekend. That new location finally opens up on Thursday, as the final curtain happened this past weekend at 1617 E. Passyunk Avenue.
The new kitchen is fairly small, but a huge step up over the previous one that was legendarily tiny and required a very coordinated dance among the chefs to get things done. A beautiful new front bar welcomes patrons as they walk through the door, which was built by Jim Gallo, a very involved member of the local East Passyunk neighborhood boards. Styer's pops refinished the back bar. The crew has added a chef's table in a separate room, as well. The interior design features lots of beautiful reclaimed wood, and elements from the former tenant that have been re-purposed.
"While a lot of our diners come from places other than East Passyunk, we all shop at each other's stores, and see al of our neighbors every day down here, which really gives it a neighborhood feel you don't find anywhere else in the city," Styer told Eater. "And with the addition of the bar, we're expecting to see a lot more locals that can just pop in for a drink, instead of a full sit down meal."
Fond has always been a microcosm of the little neighborhood that could, and as the restaurant grows up, it mirrors the renovations and evolution that East Passyunk has done around them and because of them. And this new endeavor for the Fond team solidifies their place as restaurant leaders in a community that still has the most potential in Philadelphia. We'll see you soon.