By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sounds like a New Year’s resolution, but for celebrity Chef Jose Garces, it’s a new restaurant!
Garces says, “To many generations, this place was a really special location.”
Garces has taken over the Old Original Bookbinders on Walnut Street after it closed in 2009.
It’s now called The Olde Bar and it’s Garces 9th restaurant in the city.
“I wasn’t looking to open another restaurant in Philadelphia. I was just looking to do something special.”
The famous restaurant opened the late 1800’s.
Garces is taking over with the help of John Taxin’s grandson, Erich Weiss.
Taxin bought the restaurant in the 1940’s.
Weiss says, “I think he would be proud. He was a big fan of Philadelphia. He loved this space.”
He adds, “Obviously this space has a lot of history, a lot of stories. We are nodding to that but we are also creating something that’s original.”
Bookbinders was known for its seafood and Chef Garces plans to keep it that way.
“Put a little bit of tarter sauce… King crab legs, poached lobster, poached shrimp.”
The drinks are paying tribute to the old restaurant too, offering drinks like the Clover club cocktail.
Mixologist Charlotte Voisey says, “A classic cocktail. We are talking the early 1900’s pre-Prohibition. A cocktail that was born in Philadelphia.”
Many things will remain the same from top to bottom.
“It will bring back a lot of nostalgia. We really didn’t do a lot to the space. We cleaned it, polished it and brought it a lot of fresh furniture,” says Garces.
“The floor from what I understand is one of the oldest floors to exist in Philadelphia.”
Old pictures are hung on the wall and the outdoor sign will stay put.
“Keep the history intact without changing it so much.”
The restaurant is going to open this Friday.
And with new life coming into this space, some are hoping that could attract other businesses.
Job Itzkowitz, of Old City District, says “Improving another vacant space that we had.”
“We are hoping that more chefs will take the opportunity to explore some of our bigger spaces.”
Chef Garces is glad this spot is off the market.
“We are looking forward to being here for quite a long time.”
Adding to the rich history…
You may also be interested in these stories: