The other Saturday, we made a trip down to Wayne, Pennsylvania, to go to Teresa’s Cafe & Next Door Bar. The Next Door Bar is the less formal and less expensive side, specializing on those Belgian mainstays of mussels, pommes frites (Belgian fries), and beer. We like going there because it keeps us out of the Philly maw of traffic and parking, yet it is close enough to Philly to have an enhanced emphasis on the cosmopolitan. Kind of the Goldilocks deal.
If you like fries, I am telling you, these have to be the best this side of Brussels. The beer is pretty mad too.
At the Next Door Bar, we were chagrined to find that there was an hour wait, so we went for a walk through Wayne. After hitting a bookstore for a 20 minutes and chilling out in the deserted and ornate Wayne Hotel for a several moments, we still had thirty minutes to fritter before the fries. Wayne is hardly So-Ho.
Before we headed down to Wayne, I had run off a copy of the front page of the Beeryard website with the idea that we might pay a visit if we had the time. Well we had the time (wasn’t planning to having to wait an hour)…but had left the sheet back in the car, half of a mile in the other direction and had no idea where the Beeryard was. I had found the BY on the web when searching for Belgian beer.
Strolling along Lancaster Ave, I spotted a small sign for the Beeryard at the front part of a Starbucks lot. It looked as if the Beeryard was inside the Starbucks. My wife thought it was maybe one of those Starbucks that now has started to serve spirits. I reminded her that this is Pennsylvania. Being from Jersey, she is used to buying Jack Daniels from the 7-11. No, the Beeryard was tucked away behind the Starbucks. Just like the website is about as plain as a Word document, the place looks pretty plain and pedestrian from the outside. But don’t let the low-rent look fool you…
Although, the re-signing of the place looks pretty sophisticated.
The outside has the ambiance of a tire store. Inside, it was like the Ft. Knox of Beer:
The beer per square foot is quite impressive. The cases go vertical to the ceiling. And, the BY has some stellar beer bullion indeed. They even had stock from The Bruery, a fancy-schmantzy Belgian place out in California that I visited in December.
There is some concern in Pennsylvania that if the legislature eases up on Prohibition-inspired restrictions on alcohol sale locations, that Beer Distributors will get beat on like the mom and pop hardware stores did by Wal-Mart. Maybe, if the Chinese start making beer. There is no doubt that the big chains will cut price and drive out competitors. Yet, if the Buds, Millers, and Coors (and their derivative brands) are sucked out of the smaller retail operations, I am hoping that the Craft brewers will fill the vacuum.
There needs to be a change in consumers’ tastes towards quality and away from Lowest Common Brewnominator. But, I think it is battle that can be won. The Beeryard shows us how. Build it and they will come.