With adjacent East Passyunk recently named best neighborhood for the second year in a row by Curbed Philly
, and memories from Mummers' revelries a street over still fresh, it seemed a good time to check in on two-month-old bar and restaurant Moonshine
The 46-seat establishment stands at the site of the former East Side Moyamensing Saloon, a no-frills dive bar that operated on the corner since 1935. Co-owner Rich Fattori said he jumped at the chance to buy the property, located about a half-mile south of The Industry
and Federal Donuts
"We found the location because we were the vendors for the jukebox and Megatouch of East Side Saloon," says Fattori. "When we found out the previous owner was selling, we wanted to get in right away, because we thought it was a very up-and-coming area. There are lots of young professionals and new people moving in, but it still has the mystique of a typical South Philly neighborhood."
Fattori was initially concerned about neighbors' reaction to losing a local institution.
"I was a little nervous in how quickly it would take them to warm up to what we're trying to do here," he says. "We've owned another bar in Briarcliffe for ten years and the original clientele is still resistant to any changes."
Fattori and his team made a concerted effort to become part of the community. He even knocked on a neighbor's door to introduce himself: "Before I could even say anything else, she held up her hand and said, 'Stop. I know what you're doing, and I love it.'"
The neighborhood's enthusiasm was documented by local press, such as Pennsporter
and Passyunk Post
, as Fattori's team completed renovations over the summer. Since opening, he estimates that about three-quarters of customers have been locals. This fits perfectly with his vision for Moonshine as a welcoming and friendly neighborhood spot.
Fattori's strict adherence to Moonshine's concept, even when it means a loss in profit, was evident in his decision not to open on New Year's Day. Though the restaurant served lunch to a private party (the Holy Rollers N.Y.B. Mummers club), Fattori closed to the public partly based on the recommendations from neighbors and frequent diners.
"We didn't want to change to just open and make a ton of money," he says. "We wanted to keep our character and the vibe we have going here."
Moonshine is located at 1825 East Moyamensing Avenue; make reservations at moonshinephilly.com or by calling (267) 639-9720.
Writer: Nicole Woods
Rich Fattori, Moonshine