Some sad news in the world of Philadelphia cocktails: Keith Raimondi, the mind behind Townsend's stellar bar program and Eater Philly's nominee for Bartender of the Year, is leaving Philadelphia. It's a return home for the Buffalo, N.Y. native, fulfilling his dream of opening his own place (the location is still undisclosed, but Raimondi tips, "It will be in Buffalo proper.") where cocktails will take the main stage, alongside great wine, craft beers and ciders, complemented by a focused food program — something like if a.bar and Tria had a baby.
During his tenure in Philly, Raimondi joined the ranks of Philly's elite bartenders serving time with Garces Group including stints at Tinto, Chifa, Distrito, Amada and Village Whiskey (in addition to contributing to Garces's cookbook, The Latin Road Home). Afterwards, he GM'd at Lemon Hill, Fairmount's perished cocktail haven. At Townsend, he turned the bar into an industry hang, where all of East Passyunk (and beyond) went post-service to
tipple rage on Broken Garden Tools and Gibsons-perfected.
Update: Feb. 22, 5:47 p.m. There is a silver lining: despite leaving the city, Raimondi is staying on the Townsend team as head bartender — the bar program will continue to be all his, and he'll be back to train current and new staff members. Raimondi also has plans to host cocktail-focused events at the restaurant. "We're maintaining our working relationship with the hopes of doing projects together in the future," says Townsend's chef-owner Tod Wentz.
Tonight, February 22, is Raimondi's last night behind the bar, so head to 1623 East Passyunk Avenue to say your good-byes. And if you ever find yourself in Buffalo, drink your Keith-less Philly sorrows away at his shiny new bar.