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More restaurant closings in Blue Bell/Center Square area

According to Michael Klein at philly.com, both Tequila Joe's in Center Square and Domenico's in Blue Bell have closed.

Here's the link -

Not sure what this means for the Domenico's space - if they are closing to re-invent themselves or just walking away.

As someone who lives in the area, I am amazed that any establishment at that locale (73 & Penlyn-Blue Bell Pike) has not succeeded in recent years. I guess they are hampered by being such a large space.

They did have a great bar - as did Blue Horse. That is the one thing that is lacking in that area - a great "go-to" happy hour bar. Witness my Wednesday experience at Redstone in Plymouth Meeting where the outdoor and indoor bars were already packed at 5:30!

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  1. I thought it strange that both restos looked unoccupied when we drove by Wed evening! thanks for the info. it's too bad about Domenico's, I never did get over there.

    1. I think Tequila Joe's was just in a bad location and friends who tried Domenico's mentioned they were pricey, which won't work well given our current economic condition. That's why we love BYOB's. More bang for your buck.

      As far as the local bar - Broad Axe Tavern recently advertised in our local paper and their menu looks good. Haven't been there yet since the major renovation. Thoughts?

      5 Replies
      1. re: curly girl

        there are a couple threads about broad axe, either here or on the PA board. the reports I heard when the opened were "meh"... food not that great for the price. I haven't seen anything recently.

        1. re: curly girl

          I went to a small wedding there last month and I thought the food was excellent. Several pastas and salads, a steak dish, and dessert. We had drinks at the bar afterward, which was nice but seemed small (less of the focus than the restaurant, which is not necessarily a bad thing). I'm planning to go back soon for dinner.

          1. re: oliviasaru

            Thanks for the info. As an anglophile (been here since I was 12) the Fish 'n Chips on their menu caught my eye. Would like to see what the place looks like as I have not been there since the old Broad Axe years.

          2. re: curly girl

            Broad Axe's bar is very small - and right on top of the dining area. A real lose-lose situation. Usually no seating available at the bar and, if you get seated in the bar area - you can't hear and people are usually standing right next to your table.
            Why I liked Blue Horse's bar was that it was spacious and, they had a great bar menu. Redstone is good but they are always crowded!

            1. re: Betharu

              Never made to The Blue Horse - I did hear it was good. Hopefully another place will move in soon. I remember the large bar area from when it was Marabella's. Thank you again for the info. Have you tried the new outdoor deck at Spring House Tavern. Went there recently and they had live music on a Friday night. My new favorite place around here is actually a BYOB - Mina's Cucina Rustica in Spring House. Great food and the owner and staff are very welcoming. Look forward to reading more of your reviews on The Chow

          3. It's not just recent years for many restaurants at that corner. Other than Marabella's (which wasn't all that long), many, many restaurants have come and gone there in the last 30 to 40 years. It's got to have something to do with competing with the Blue Bell Inn.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Den

              For eons of my childhood, we ventured out to dine at Wm Penn Inn and the Blue Bell Inn across from its opposing neighbor, Frank and Eddie's, which later reincarnated as Tokyo, Marabella's et al. F&E's always had a blue bell hanging on the Rt. 73 side which perplexed me no end as to why IT was not the Blue Bell Inn (any other pre-geezers here recallng that?) I frequently asked mom and dad why we don't eat there. "Its a bar" was the retort. End of discussion.
              In 1969, we moved just down the pike from Blue Bell. Frank and Eddie's lasted until the late '70s when it was abandoned and sadly neglected for several years. Tokyo sushi lasted a few months, as did Mr. Ron's. No one has done well there since.
              I think removing that blue bell disturbed spirits who long for its return. Call it "the curse of Pigeontown."

            2. Does anyone know anything about the new resto going in to the old Bourbon space? The sign claims they will open on the 14th.

              11 Replies
              1. re: crazyspice

                All I know it is affiliated with the people who own Moonstruck in Philadelphia. It should be interesting to see how it makes out. That is another big space that has become a restaurant wasteland in recent years!

                1. re: crazyspice

                  The last I heard the name will be Radice and it's owned by the same folks who own Moonstruck Restaurant on Oxford Ave. Radice is supposed to have a farmhouse kitchen atmosphere with a woodburning oven in the middle of the dining room. Sounds cool to me!

                  1. re: crazyjane

                    A DiLullo restaurant. Sounds like this could be a good one! I did see a sign inside the door with that name on it.

                    1. re: crazyspice

                      Yes, I'm excited to try it. Will let you know how it is if I get there before you!

                      1. re: crazyjane

                        The had tables outside last night... someone post if you go.. would love to know if it's good! desperately seeking a new good restaurant....

                          1. re: minniebb

                            Friends of mine went this week and they really liked it. I try and wait a week or two after a new place opens so they can work out the kinks. It's definitely on my list to try!

                            1. re: Betharu

                              We're giving it a try this weekend--I'll let you know!

                              1. re: crazyjane

                                Do they have their liquor license yet or is it still byob?

                                1. re: JanR

                                  They have a very nice wine list. Toto, the owner, said he will be adding more as time goes on.

                    2. re: crazyspice

                      We've been there twice. Most of their menu consists of "small plates". Everything we tried, we really liked. It is done in all white and airy...Very nice. Their wine list is very good, and growing.

                    3. Rumor has it that The Mainland Inn in Mainland (Harleysville) closed suddenly after dinner on Tuesday evening. The Reporter newspaper states that the sign on the door says they are "Closed for improvements" This high end restaurant has been an icon on Sumneytown Pike for years. Would be a shame if the current economic situation has caused yet another area establishment to close its doors. Stay tuned.................

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: curly girl

                        Mainland Inn is closed, not sure how temporary tho, we know the former sous chef who confirmed "closed" not 'renovating"

                        Broad Axe Tavern has the former exec chef from William Penn Inn as either an investor or the exec chef

                        Food at the Blue Horse was awesome, and I'm sad that it didn't last they had the best bar menu I've seen in this area in a long time

                        1. re: cgarner

                          The Mainland Inn was a treasure. I hope it reincarnates.

                          Matt Damon is the Chef/Partner at Broad Axe. He had been at Bay Pony Inn for many years before Wm. Penn.

                          Had one dinner at the Blue Horse. That's it.


                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                            Re: Blue Horse - You and me both CP.

                            1. re: Chefpaulo

                              CP, I'm with you on both the Mainland and the Blue Horse! Have not been to the Broad Ax and don't know if I'll go based on the majority of the comments on CH.

                              1. re: bucksguy14

                                IMO the food at the Blue Horse was ok, but the service was absolutely abysmal.

                                The Broad Axe is ok. It's a nice change of pace kind of place for lunch, but not somewhere I would go all of the time.

                                1. re: mitchh

                                  Was looking at the Broad Axe menu and thought about taking my Mom (we're British) for the Fish and Chips. Is it worth it in your opinion?

                                  1. re: curly girl

                                    actually the fish and chips were better (believe it or not) at iron hill pub than they were at broad axe! if you want to add a drive to your lunch..try the fish and chips at whip tavern!

                                    1. re: ilovesummer

                                      Thanks for the info - and Whip Tavern is definitely on my list. Problem is that Mom doesn't drive - lives in Warminster - and I live in Harleysville, so anywhere we go involves lots of driving :) Also heard of the British Chip Shop that just opened in Haddonfield so plan to head there one day when I have lots of time.

                                      1. re: curly girl

                                        we actually are in skippack so i know the driving dilemma!! we do make the hike out toward warminister quite often for blue sage..one of my absolute favorites...next to zahav!!
                                        have you tried parkside???

                                        1. re: ilovesummer

                                          Yes - almost a regular at Parkside. Love their food and nice staff. Last time we were there, one of the waitresses let my grandson help her to make his chocolate milk. He is still talking about it. Quite a unique experience. Hope they will bring back their Chicken Pot Pie this fall. Hubby loves the Pork Chop with Polenta in an orange sauce. Okay - better go get some breakfast. Been up since 6:30 and I'm feeling a little peckish.

                                          1. re: curly girl

                                            very nice staff....and food is really good...i like their hummous platter and their bruschetta salad was good as well. my husband is anxious to try their burger....on the never ending quest for the perfect burger.....only downside to parkside (and not enuf to stop us from returning) is we wish it had a bit more "warmth" or "feel" to it....maybe tablecloths on the tables or nice art work...just something seems a bit too harsh in an otherwise nicely done dining room...

                                            1. re: ilovesummer

                                              I know what you mean about the decor. We were one of the diners who mentioned the high noise level when they first opened. They took immediate steps to correct that and added fabric wall decor in frames. That buffers a little of the noise and it has seemed much better on repeat visits. Maybe pictures of parks by the lake could be used to spruce up the interior decor or something else in keeping with the restaurant name.

                                              1. re: curly girl

                                                exactly!!!! we figured the brown diamonds hanging on the wall were for noise difussion...but just adding tablecloths and paintings might make a world of difference!!! then again...if it gets TOO nice...it may not be so easy to get in:-)

                                                1. re: ilovesummer

                                                  I know what you mean. I have already called on a Friday evening and been told they were not accepting any more reservations. In addition to the decor, I think they need to expand their menu just a little bit. Especially for those who go fairly often. While the food is excellent, the choices are somewhat limited. BTW - had the Seafood Risotto recently and it was awesome.

                              2. re: Chefpaulo

                                Inside intel says that Dave Markel (who owns half of the village of Skippack) was approached to invest in Mainland Inn, he declined. Most likely is waiting for bank foreclosure, to buy it cheap IF he buys it at all.

                                I finally got around to reading the Reporter article....
                                They really didn’t give more than 48 hours notice to the staff that they were closing their doors.. they sent their employees scrambling to find jobs. If they discussed and decided “months” ago as they claim, good business practice would be to give better notice to staff.

                                1. re: cgarner

                                  Hmmm - interesting. I am hoping that the Skippack investor does not buy it. Would rather see a less expensive, more casual restaurant move into that space. I find the Skippack restaurants to be overpriced as a whole and I can't help but think it's because they're in Skippack and they expect people to pay more.

                                  1. re: curly girl

                                    I wouldn't call the Mainland Inn inexpensive, so I wouldn't think that a wise restauranteur like Dave Markel would purchase it and then put in an even more expensive restaurant.

                                    That said I personally don't find the Skippack restaurants overpriced.

                                    1. re: mitchh

                                      Hi, Mitch - When I say expensive, I am including Bella Rosa (Hotel Fiesole), The Brasserie and Parc Bistro - all have very high priced entrees on average - especially for the serving portions. Just my opinion. I do know that Mainland Inn was not cheap, but service was excellent and the atmosphere was very nice and quite different than other area restaurants, so you expected to pay a little more. We saved The Mainland for special occasions only with few exceptions. Never tried the outdoor patio - little disappointed we did not.

                                      1. re: curly girl


                                        I agree that Brasserie and Fiesole are expensive, but the caveat with Parc Bistro is that despite the high priced entrees you could easily walk out of there very full getting just Ceasar salad and either a pizza or small plate for a reasonable cost.

                              3. re: cgarner

                                Chef at the Blue Horse now has his own place (BYOB, small plates) in Cedars called 19 Bella.

                                1. re: owlman

                                  I am intrigued to see how this place does. I can see a restaurant doing well with the small plate concepts AND a good wine list. Not sure how it would work with a BYOB.
                                  Along those lines, friends just went to Radice in Blue Bell this Saturday night. They were not thrilled with the service and there were a couple of other kinks but they said they would definitely give it another try.

                                  1. re: owlman

                                    I have eaten at 19 Bella four times. The menu is very interesting and small plate, tapas style. Eclectic choices ranging from mac and cheese, crab cakes to lamp chops, and steak. I have found the food to be consistently good and the outdoor patio is a lovely place to enjoy a meal. Last visit, service was slow, but the tables were full, so I think the staff was unprepared for the volume. They had to call a server in to help out.