Yardley Distillery Begins Renovations on New Morrisville Restaurant

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Friendly’s marks a return to form for owner Nicole Rabena, who worked at the classic diner in her youth.
Yardley Distillery Begins Renovations on New Morrisville Restaurant
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Nicole Rabena, owner and operator of Yardley Restaurant Group as well as the small batch spirit distillery and craft cocktail maker, Yardley Distillery, recently began renovations on her new restaurant concept, also dubbed Yardley Distillery, which is taking over the space vacated earlier this year by Friendly’s Restaurant at 897 W Trenton Ave in Morrisville.

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Yardley Distillery, set to open this December, will not only feature a full bar – the highlight of which is doubtlessly the company’s signature craft cocktails and spirits – but also a Tex-Mex-inspired menu including Mexican street corn, fresh fish tacos, bacon-wrapped colossal shrimp, and homemade queso dip.

“We’re really excited to bring something like this to the area,” Rabena tells What Now Philadelphia. “We obviously have La La [Lobster], we have the diner [Mil-Lee’s], we have the pizza place that’s soon-to-be called Sauce – everything is very different.”

Needless to say, Rabena and Yardley Restaurant Group are nothing short of prolific. Since launching just two years ago, the company has already established six brands including La La Lobster, Mil-Lee’s Yardley Diner, coffee roaster Yardley Joe, an organic honey maker called Yardley Honey, a recently acquired pizzeria that’s being rebranded as Sauce, and of course, the eponymous small batch distillery.   

However, despite the fact that Rabena is sole owner and operator of the food and beverage empire, she’s quick to point out her husband Fred’s support, and more specifically his former background in the food and beverage industry and current work in construction, as a key component to her success.

“He’s the best partner I could ever have, and that’s not to sound corny, but we really do work great together,” says Rabena. “It blows my mind that October 3 will be two years since we opened our first of seven restaurants. I still can’t wrap my brain around it, but without the support of him it would never be done. We work very well together and every project is exciting.”

Incidentally, Rabena calls Yardley Distillery the “culmination of all our work over 36 years,” a description that hits particularly close to home as Friendly’s Restaurant was actually the rising restaurateur’s first job at 16 years old. 

Now, she’s poised to do right by Friendly’s legacy, as well as the Morrisville community at large, by running her own restaurant and writing a new chapter where her own story began.

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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