A Very Philly Love Story

Since its opening, hundreds of Philly couples have met at McGillin’s.
Jeff Fusco

In Philly, McGillin’s Olde Ale House is known for its quaint charm, bar snacks, and for being a meeting place to many looking for a night out.

But a lesser known fact is that it’s also a catalyst for many love stories, so much so, that the venue has a book they’ve dubbed the “love letters” with signatures, stories and photos of hundreds of couples who have met there, had their first date there or have gotten engaged there.

Including Metro employee Lizanne Hayes and her husband, Brian. The two have been married for over two decades, but they first met at the oldest bar in Philadelphia on a typical night out.

“In 2000, [Philly] was the place for the Republican National Convention, and Brian was at McGillin’s with about 50 of his co-workers. I happened to be there that night for a going away party for someone at my office,” Lizanne remembers.

Lizanne and Brian Hayes. Provided

“We were on the second floor and I went downstairs because I was meeting someone else that night… Brian’s friend started talking to me and I was clearly not interested, so I moved away from him and right into Brian’s path. He said he had noticed me walking down the stairs.”

After chatting for a bit, Lizanne went back upstairs to her friends, and they wanted to leave to head to another spot about a half hour later.

“I noticed Brian walk up the stairs and used him as an excuse not to go… Terrible I know, [but] he was aware of what I was doing and went along with it anyway,” Lizanne continues. “We ended up talking the rest of the night and he walked me to my car. After I found out he lived in DC and he was younger than me, I told him that there would be no chance that we could see each other again.”

Well, they saw each other three more times that week.

The duo traveled back and forth from the City of Brotherly Love to D.C. with Lizanne’s two young daughters in tow—”It was not easy,” Lizanne remembers—but a few years later, they were engaged at Lizanne’s home in Penn Wynne.

“It goes to show you that if it’s meant to be, it will happen,” Lizanne explains. “And the atmosphere at McGillin’s is so laid back and homey that I felt open to meeting someone that night.”

The Hayes still return to the Center City hotspot to sip on their drink of choice, draft beers, meet friends and reminisce.

“McGillin’s is still one of my favorite places and it remains so,” Lizanne says.

Years ago, she even bought artwork of the restaurant, and the picture is still hanging in the couple’s home to this day.

“When I saw it in the window I knew I had to have it because we met there,” Lizanne finishes.

Art work hanging in the Hayes’ home.P rovided

When asked why she thinks so many couples get engaged there, she had thoughts from her own experience: “Being the oldest bar in Philadelphia, it has a lure and a charm about it that other bars just don’t have…. The clientele and employees have such a nice way about them and the owner, Chris, is a great guy. Nice trickles down.”

There are many stories quite similar to this that take place at McGillin’s—from brothers who both met their spouses while there, to co-workers who met while working in the kitchen, to friends who sat down at the same table of FBI agents and equally got engaged. McGillin’s is currently in their second volume of the “Love Letters” book, and they have open pages for more stories to come.