We Heart This Bar?


Ajax Metals | Photo: Ethan Wallace

Ajax Metals | Photo: Ethan Wallace

Singer Toby Keith’s chain of country and western bar and restaurants, I Love This Bar, is coming to Fishtown, the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association zoning committee learned Monday night.

Architect Janice Woodcock confirmed the longstanding rumor during her presentation of developer Michael Samschick’s plans to turn a desolate stretch of Delaware Avenue and adjacent Canal Street just south of Frankford into an entertainment complex. The bar will be located on the site of the former Dry Ice Corp, and will be big enough to seat 600 people for dinner and another 600 for live music shows.

Per the company’s website, expect a “fun and rowdy atmosphere” and “beer in mason jars.”

In addition to the Keith chain, Samschick said he’s nailed down a deal with Live Nation to open a 3,000 seat concert venue in the adjacent former Ajax Metals building. Metallica playing in an old bronze foundry? It has a nice ring to it, but the hall probably isn’t big enough. In any event, Samschick highlighted the family-friendly nature of at least some of the programming, with performers in the same vein as the Wiggles playing weekend matinee concerts.

Samschick said he expects both venues to open around this time next year if all goes well. The first phase of the project, which will also include a Revolutions Bowling & Lounge and a manufacturing space and tasting room for Philadelphia Distilling, received conditional approval from the Planning Commission last week.

We’ll have further news and analysis of Samschick’s plans later this week.

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.


  1. Ha! This will certainly change the vibe outside of The Barbary.

  2. Nayberhod a concirt bar neding now. The Wiggles and other stars of scren. Liv natin says give me money. Money me. Money now. Me a money needing a lot now.

  3. This probably will not go over well with the neighborhood. Also the barbary is going to hate this idea.. Although I live in the community and don’t want to see it become an even more touristy area then it has become over the past years this idea is probably best for the area. That hell hole around frankford and delaware ave is terrible. At least now when I am walking at night in that area I won’t always feel like I have to have my hand on my protection at all times..

    • “At least now when I am walking at night in that area I won’t always feel like I have to have my hand on my protection at all times.” Please tell me you’re joking. That direct spot may be desolate but its far from dangerous.

    • Please… I sincerly doubt this place would transform Fishtown into Times Square over night.

      I mean, come on, its Fishtown!

  4. This is going to be fucking miserable. I live two blocks from where this mess is going. The only people this will appeal to are popped collar douchebags from the ‘burbs that frequent Xfinity Live and other shrines to tackiness that are now being sold to us as “entertainment complexes.” These places belong in the suburbs and shitty midwestern hellholes. They do not belong in a city.

  5. Totally agree. I live around the corner from this site and this kind gimmicky crap has absolutely no place in Fishtown/Northern Liberties. “Bro-Liberties” is a term reserved for what happens (unfortunately) on Friday and Saturday nights, particularly during the summer, when the popped collar, teenie-bopper “ravers” drive their parents car downtown for a taste of city life. On a normal day the neighborhood is the absolute OPPOSITE of that crowd. PLEASE do not cater to these people. There’s already that god awful western bar on 3rd Street just below Spring Garden that is literally PAINTED LIKE A COW. Put something that actually relates to the neighborhood into this space. It has so much potential to be something awesome, but honestly, I’d rather see it abandoned and vacant than with this.

  6. Put that shit in Jersey where it belongs. I don’t want to see the barbary start to overflow with Dane Cook fans who think ‘fag’ is a socially acceptable word for wimp.

    • Have you been to the Barbary lately ? It already does kinda blow. Only bros get down with paying $5 for a 12 oz PBR & watered down whisky shot when you can go to the El Bar and get a pounder for $3.50. It’s still nasty whisky though. At least now the M Room looks like a half decent venue.

  7. At least the homeless parks under I-95 won’t be popping up in the summer any more. Two years ago it looked like a shanty-town out back of Ajax. Furniture, ramshackle “forts”, trash, etc. Nothing like parking in front of that beautiful church and seeing some bum in a winter coat in August pissing on a parked car.


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