Newbold: Four Defining Spots of the ‘New’ South Philly

Newbold resident Jake Panasevich chugs a beer at the newly renovated Taproom on 19th.

There’s nothing new about Newbold, per se. It is, after all, a longstanding Point Breeze neighborhood that just happens to sport some new digs. But rising home sales prices of 13.3 percent in the area, coupled with an eclipsing of the city average of new homes built post-2005 and a mid-30s median resident age, all are ingredients added to the pot to suggest a horde of new South Philadelphians are moving in and, ultimately, hydrating a once commercially parched neighborhood with a whole slew of newbie hot spots — or at least bringing a new identity to old locales.

1. Taproom on 19th (Pictured Above)

Exhibit A: 19th and Ritner streets’ Taproom on 19th (pictured above), formerly a dive-y beer-and-shot bar, was spruced up in gastropub fashion in October with warm, amber-colored tables and decor, industrial-whisk light fixtures from Canal Street’s Provence Architectural, a drink selection of 13 craft beers and a pork-focused food menu by new owner Michael Strauss. “The bar’s farther south than most for this type of establishment, but it works,” Strauss says. “I’d say it’s 90 percent folks from the neighborhood, and another 10 percent who are just curious.” To boot, it’s become the go-to place for the area’s civic organizations to come together for planning — a pretty stark contrast to what was the host of Bikini Tuesdays a mere five months ago.

2. reNew Yoga

A gaggle of yoga-class participants find their inner zen.

Opened at the doorstep of 2014, complementing the LPMG Companies‘ and PostGreen Homes’ reNewbold development and around the bend at 16th and Moore streets, Emily Lenhard opened reNew Yoga in hopes of bringing “peace and clarity” to the community. “Being a resident, I was seeing really good things happening here. Places like [South Philadelphia Taproom] and Ultimo Coffee solidified the neighborhood, and I thought putting a yoga studio would add to that and bring another aspect of community,” Lenhard says. “My thought in opening was that happier people will create a happier neighborhood. How can that be bad?”

3. South Philadelphia Tap Room

South Philadelphia Tap Room cemented the “Newbold” moniker in 2003.

The granddaddy watering hole of Newbold — seriously, check out that (pictured) neighborhood-defining “Newbold” painting on prominent display — and debut area project of developer John Longacre, South Philadelphia Tap Room at 15th and Mifflin streets, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013 and maintains a role as a uniter of folks from the neighborhood. And no, not just hipsters. “I was there last night, and we were sitting next to a couple with a 2-year-old with donuts, playing on their iPhone and chatting about babies,” said Levana Layendecker, a “regular” who resides at 15th and Jackson streets. “That’s not really a hipster thing, and most of the people sitting at the bar were new people in the neighborhood.”

4. OCF Coffee House (Neighboring Lot)

The national-headlines-making lot rejuvenated by Ori Feibush in 2012.
The national-headlines-making lot rejuvenated by Ori Feibush in 2012.

It’s the lot heard ’round the world: Ori Feibush solidified his status as a Newbold mover and shaker after taking the initiative to clean up the above-pictured empty lot at 20th and Annin streets that rests next to one of his two OCF Coffee House locations in South Philadelphia. Consider it step one in publicizing what became a long-winded battle for a blight-fighting Philadelphia Land Bank ordinance, signed into law on Jan. 13.

Text and images by: Kate McCann and Brandon Baker

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