When Human Robot Brewing opens early next year, its Kensington space will also be home to the second iteration of Poe’s Sandwich Joint. N.A Poe, who first made a name for himself in Philly as a marijuana activist, is reopening his popular sandwich shop inside the new brewery, at 1710 N. Fifth Street in what was previously Saint Benjamin’s Brewing Co. The first phase of the eatery, with delivery and pickup only, should debut this month.
“We’re going from essentially a takeout window to having a sit-down restaurant. It’s a big upgrade,” says Poe, a.k.a. Richard Tamaccio Jr. “We closed the doors less than three months ago, and three months later we rebounded back on our feet in a better situation. I’m not trying to look backward.”
Poe’s Sandwich Joint was an immediate hit when it opened in Fishtown in December 2018, landing on best of lists including Eater’s roundup of epic Philly sandwiches. Eight months later, when Poe closed the shop abruptly, he cited issues with investors, but an NDA prevents him from going into detail.
The new version of Poe’s is ambitious, with three components. First is the takeout sandwich shop, opening later this month with delivery and curbside pickup only. Expect the same menu as the original, with what Poe calls “Italian-style munchies”: a meatball sandwich with marinara and mozzarella, both made in-house; a cheesesteak with shaved rib eye, pepperoncini relish, and Gouda whiz; the vegetarian Commish with mozzarella, tomato, red onion, basil pesto, and balsamic glaze.
When the brewery — from Jake Atkinson, Chris Roller, and Rachael Morris — is up and running in early 2020, you’ll also be able to dine in. That means you can grab your sandwich to go, or sit down and order a beer or cocktail with the Hamilton (a chicken cutlet, bacon, hand-cut fries, Cooper Sharp cheese, and house-made ranch).
The third piece of the puzzle: Separate from the sandwich shop, Poe is creating a food menu for the brewery with his managing partner Andrew Edsall.
Poe and Edsall met a decade ago waiting tables, and Edsall came in as a consultant when Poe opened the Fishtown sandwich shop. “In the aftermath of the closing, I was looking around and saw that the guys who took over the old Saint Benjamin brewery had a fully stocked kitchen and they didn’t want it,” Poe says. “They were like, ‘we just want to brew beer, you want to make food, let’s get the band together.’”
For Human Robot’s menu, “we’re going to do seasonal, very simple, elevated bar food, utilizing the beer they’re brewing and pairing food with the beer,” Edsall says. “I love to go out and try all the new restaurants, but when it comes down to it, who doesn’t love really good comfort food?”
That might include versions of the fresh pasta Edsall and Poe have been experimenting with lately, offering limited portions via email orders.
Edsall spent time in professional kitchens before moving into front of house roles, but “we’re not necessarily culinary guys,” says Poe. “That’s why this is so much fun. To get all this support and be honored in a city so densely packed with great restaurants — I’m a former drug dealer with his grandma’s recipes.”
To start rebuilding a buzz around Poe’s, they’ll be selling the meatball and the tomato and mozz sandwiches this Sunday, October 20, at Pufftoberfest, a festival celebrating five years of marijuana decriminalization in Philly.