P.J. Clarke’s to open at Philly’s Washington Square

Michelle Gustafson

Ed Rendell couldn’t help himself – the self-proclaimed “number one consumer of cheeseburgers in the City of Philadelphia” has brought New York’s world-famous P.J. Clarke’s restaurant to Philadelphia.

It’s slated for a summer opening on Washington Square Park inside the Curtis Center.

Rendell, Mayor Jim Kenney, P.J. Clarke’s CEOPhilip Scottiand about 100 socialites and members of the media joined together Friday morning inside the soon-to-be new location to announce the plans for opening.

The proposed 11,000 square foot restaurant will feature outdoor dining space on both 6th and Walnut streets, offer some of the same, quirky features the 130-year old saloon is known for in New York City, but with added Philadelphia archival décor.

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“When I was mayor, I tried to get the prior owners to move to Philadelphia,” Rendell said.

“In part because I wanted the economic development that would come from a great restaurant – I wanted to have that restaurant available to improve the quality of life, and in great part because I am probably the number one consumer of cheeseburgers in the City of Philadelphia,” he laughed.

Since it first opened its doors in 1884 at 55th and Third Avenue in New York City, P.J. Clarke’s has been known as “the place” for “the Cadillac of burgers,” with its red and white checkered tablecloths and sawdust on the hardwood floors.

From Elizabeth Taylor to Nat King Cole to Frank Sinatra, many famous faces have raised and clinked glasses at any of P.J. Clarke’s eight locations.

“This is not P.J. Clarke’s New York coming to Philadelphia. This is P.J. Clarke’s Philadelphia. It will be Philadelphia-centric,” said Scotti.

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“P.J’s in New York is often referred to as the Vatican of saloons. I promise that I will build the Cathedral of saloons…We’re unpretentious. We’re authentic. We’re a little irreverent. We think food is easy. We buy the best and try to stay out of its way. Our job is to help people have a good time. We are the original social network, and I think we do a pretty good job of that. You guys will find out as soon as we open.”

Scotti said he’s been looking for a location for the past five years.

Kenney said he, too, would be there as soon as it opened.

“P.J. Clarke’s started as a place for the Irish to go after a long day of work – to go and enjoy themselves and lift a couple pints. I guarantee I will be in here more than once.”

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