After Charlie Collazo, owner of Spring Garden’s craft beer bar The Institute Bar, signed the lease to his new Pennsport bar space, he struggled to come up with a good name. But then, like most great ideas, it hit him "like lightning". Sometime in January, the old Cooley’s Bar will reopen as Otis & Pickle’s Speakeasy at 2500 South 3rd Street.
Otis and Pickles? They’re real people, older gentlemen — brothers from Lancaster who worked out of an auto-body garage next door to Kennett Square’s Creamery Beer Garden which The Institute crew helped run this summer. Otis "has a single tooth" and Pickles "can pound a case of Miller Lite a day" and when he gets to drinking, one eye wanders.
So, of course, Otis & Pickles Speakeasy is the name of his new bar. "Speakeasy" because the bar will be cocktail-focused with a draft tower pouring six cocktails, plus, given Collazo’s extensive experience serving craft beer, a custom-built 11-tap tower will do the same. And no, it won’t be a real speakeasy by any means—no secret passwords, no hidden doors, and especially "no douchebaggery."
Inside, he’s building out the bar himself using his new Kennett Square friends as inspiration: walls will be made of rough woods and galvanized metal, custom lighting will be fashioned out of mason jars and copper colanders, and he ripped out Cooley’s drop ceiling in lieu of the building’s original tin-work (pictured above). There’s a full kitchen, too. He and his wife are planning a super-casual menu of White Castle-style sliders, pickles in all their many ways, and, something he’s especially excited about, a riff on the Hungry Man platter.
Just from a brief conversation with him over the phone, you can tell that Collazo’s bars run a certain way. "Your bar is an extension of your personality" he explained. "So come the fuck in, and have a good fucking time."
Oh, and if you’re wondering if Otis and Pickles are aware that there’s a bar named after them in South Philly, the answer is yes.
"They got a good laugh and think I'm the crazy one."