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Three New Outdoor Bars Bring a Sea of Seats to Philly’s Waterfront

FCM Hospitality’s three-part Philly River Stroll project links piers and parks along the Delaware River

The Garden is one of three exciting new additions to Philly’s waterfront this weekend.
Society Hill Films/The Garden

The team behind waterfront bar Morgan’s Pier continues to capitalize on Philly’s pandemic-era demand for outdoor dining options with the debut of not one, but three, scenic eateries and beer gardens along the Delaware River this weekend.

FCM Hospitality’s new seasonal venture, dubbed Philly River Stroll, consists of three distinct destinations stretched across Columbus Boulevard: River Beer Garden (at Race Street Pier), The Garden (at Cherry Street Pier) and Water Garden (at Spruce Street Harbor Park), with socially-distanced seat counts ranging from 100 to 200. The trio of attractions go live on Friday, July 24, at 4 p.m.

With indoor dining prohibited until at least August 1 (and likely later than that), outdoor dining remains the only option for those looking to visit a Philly restaurant during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

That’s fueled FCM Hospitality to plump up its outdoor portfolio this summer, starting with the sped-up arrival of its open-air Mexican eatery Juno earlier this month. Along with Rosy’s and Morgan’s Pier, FCM also runs beer garden Parks on Tap, indoor/outdoor restaurant Harper’s Garden, and Craft Hall.

Its latest three-part waterfront project mandates masks (except while seated) at each venue. Reservations are required at The Garden and Water Garden, and there’s a digital check-in at River Beer Garden for contact tracing purposes.

Here’s a look at each al fresco newcomer:

River Beer Garden: This new 100-seat beer garden on Race Street Pier stars snacks and draft brews from Mainstay Independent Brewing Company. A mini-beer truck parked on-site pours pilsners and lagers from the Philly brewery. Colorful sail installations help shade seated guests from the sun. Race Street at North Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Wednesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.

Picnic tables seat up to six, while cafe seating includes two- and four-tops.
Society Hill Films/Philly River Stroll
Mainstay Independent Brewing Company’s Poplar Pils.
FCM Hospitality/Philly River Stroll

The Garden: This 20,000-square-foot outdoor oasis at Cherry Street Pier is twice as large as its River Beer Garden neighbor, filled with 200 seats to soak up day-to-night views of Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Situated under a soaring iron beam structure, the industrial-styled setup is softened with bright blue tables, blooming flowers, lush greenery, and string lights. Casual eats include sandwiches, salads, dips, appetizers, and snacks, along with pastries and breads from Lost Bread Co. There’s also beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Customers can plug in orders past the host station and receive a text when their food and drink is ready for pick-up. For a dose of culture, guests can peruse artist-in-residence summer studios at the pier. Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Monday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.

Sandwiches at The Garden.
FCM Hospitality/Philly River Stroll
Beer service at The Garden.
FCM Hospitality/Philly River Stroll
The Garden offers a mix of cafe and picnic bench seating.
FCM Hospitality/Philly River Stroll

The Water Garden: After walking past the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, diners board a dock to access this 125-seat restaurant stationed on three floating barges. Its “elevated yet approachable” menu is filled out by lots of local produce. Two repurposed shipping containers function as concession stands serving shareables, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, baked goods, pastries, beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Diners overlook a floating garden that illuminates at night. 249 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Monday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.