The always-busy Royal Tavern in South Philly’s Bella Vista neighborhood is closing for at least two months for major repairs. The bar’s staff was told last week and encouraged to start looking for other jobs immediately. It wasn’t a lot of notice — Royal Tavern will shut its doors after service this Saturday, August 10. The reopening date is up in the air but will likely be sometime in late October.
The bar, located at 937 E. Passyunk Avenue for almost 17 years, is a lively neighborhood hangout with a crowd made up of a mix of regulars and newcomers and a creative menu that makes it as much a food destination as a drinking spot. It’s especially known for its vegan options.
Suzanne O’Brien, director of development and operations for Royal Tavern’s restaurant group, tells Eater they’re “completely re-fitting the basement kitchen and updating the bar and dining room.” If all goes according to plan, the work should take eight to 10 weeks.
Owners Stephen Simons and David Frank also own several other popular Philly establishments, including Royal Boucherie, Royal Sushi and Izakaya, Khyber Pass Pub, Cantina Los Caballitos, Cantina Dos Segundos, and Triangle Tavern. O’Brien says there are positions available at the sister spots for Royal Tavern employees, and other Philly restaurants have reached out about hiring. Most of Royal Tavern’s kitchen workers have new jobs lined up, she says, and for staffers looking to file for unemployment, Royal Tavern won’t contest any unemployment claims.
A note to staff mentions the uncertainty of the construction timeline.