Following a few blips of excitement this past spring and summer and then a long silence, there's finally news on the long-empty former Ugly American space at Front and Federal. Its replacement will be a bar called Keystone, reports Michael Klein for Philly.com, touting a theme of "Pennsylvania."
The specifics of that theme remain to be fully fleshed out, and probably isn't too much of a stretch given the building's historical designation. According to Klein's report, there will be a dozen local PA beers on tap (plus a selection of bottles). How the theme will be interpreted across the menu is anybody's guess, as the owners are still looking for a chef. Keystone could open as early as late May.
The impulse to tap into local tradition has been strong lately, though it's taken different guises and met with varying success. Venerating Pennsylvania's history and cuisine was the idea at Society Hill Society, which opened and closed in just nine months where the Artful Dodger once stood for more than three decades. At Fork, chef Eli Kulp's widely acclaimed tasting menu has turned an eye toward going beyond just using local ingredients, to telling a broader story about Pennsylvania and New Jersey foodways. Philly bars and restaurants with rich histories are being resurrected with old-school elements intact, as in The Olde Bar, Franky Bradley's, and soon-to-reopen Triangle Tavern. A traditional regional focus has been promised for the menu at upcoming Whetstone Tavern, from the chefs and owners of Brauhaus Schmitz — though the end result remains to be seen after lengthy delays have pushed back the opening date more than once.
Keystone, 1100 South Front Street, opening spring/summer 2015.