Reunion Hall Aims to Bridge the Brewery-Restaurant Divide

Dave Welsh’s passion project, which is four years in the making, will be a masterclass in industry collaboration and community engagement when it opens this spring.
Reunion Hall Aims to Bridge the Brewery-Restaurant Divide
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Reunion Hall, a new beer garden and three-kitchen restaurant, is getting closer and closer to opening its doors at 206 Haddon Ave this spring, “as long as the weather cooperates and nothing else gets in the way,” according to owner Dave Welsh.

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Right off the top, opening Reunion Hall is slightly complicated by the fact that the space has three dedicated kitchens, each of which will be run by a different area restaurant including vegan concept Goodbeets, Haddon Heights-dwelling Local Links, and from a bit further afield in Philadelphia, Wokworks. Nevertheless, Welsh’s collaboration with the three restaurateurs is both symbolic and practical. 

“Menus don’t tend to change at bars,” Welsh tells What Now Philadelphia. “Bar food is what bar food is. So this is kind of taking New Jersey – with its quirky ‘breweries can’t have food, but you can bring food in’ – it’s kind of trying to give a brewery vibe/restaurant vibe, all in one.”

Meanwhile, the bar portion of Reunion Hall will feature 56 taps, which, at times, could feature as many as 40 different beers from around Jersey, says Welsh, who cites Monks and the soon-to-shutter, but “iconic” and beloved, Memphis Taproom as inspiration for how to run a beer-focused bar.

However, this combination of hosting a robust food program with a robust beer program speaks to a larger issue that Welsh is hoping to address with the opening of Reunion Hall; that is, the ongoing cold war between breweries and restaurants in New Jersey, and the fight over who gets to serve what.

“I’m kind of torn. I love breweries and I love restaurants, so everybody should just get along.”

Aside from serving as a mediator between restaurants and breweries, Welsh also plans to use Reunion Hall as a platform for fundraising that will go back to local schools and their athletics programs, which have seen their funding slashed in recent years such that students either have to fundraise themselves or pay for things like their own jackets when they win a championship.

In fact, it’s an ethos that’s quite literally written into the name.

“The name Reunion Hall – the idea is, get together here for your reunion and then we can donate part of that night back to your school. That’s really the community-based part of the concept. You know, helping all these different schools that do need the help.”

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Drew Pittock

Drew Pittock is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA. He’s covered music, culture, and plant-based cuisine for various media outlets from Beijing to Tallinn and beyond. He currently lives in El Paso, TX with his wife and their cat.
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