rembrandts
Courtesy of Rembrandt's

RIP Rembrandt’s: The Fairmount institution is closing after 32 years

The property has been sold; owner Gail Seygal says it’s time for her to move on.

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Fairmount restaurant Rembrandt’s is closing this summer after 32 years as a neighborhood standby. Owner Gail Seygal, who took over in 2009 from friend and former owner Jan Zarkin, has sold the property, she said.

The location, set a block off Fairmount Avenue beside Eastern State Penitentiary at the corner of 23rd and Aspen, has been a bar since at least 1915. Zarkin, who died last year after complications from ALS, bought the place in 1985 and gave it the Rembrandt’s name. Zarkin expanded the bar several times, adding a kitchen and additional dining areas, and at one point operating part of it as a coffee shop. Because of its large upstairs banquet space and outdoor seating area, it is a popular spot for private parties and wedding celebrations.

Seygal, a first-time restaurateur, said she sold because she’s ready to move on, but is also heartbroken about the closing.

“I’ve been crying when I was telling these guys, my staff,” she said. “They’re all saying they’re going to be fine — they have a lot of contacts because of all the people who cycle through here — but I feel like I’m losing family.”

General manager Alec Terry, who’s worked at Rembrandt’s since 2003, said he may take the opportunity to go back to school. Bartender Ben Palubinsky (a Billy Penn Who’s Nexter) is heading to Cheu Noodle Bar’s Fishtown location.

“It has been a truly eye-opening experience,” both good and bad, Seygal said about her eight years as proprietor. “You don’t know how hard it is to run a restaurant until you’re in the industry.” On the upside, she added, it’s been great to learn about trends in food and craft beer, and generally interesting to hang around with younger staff. “I talk kitchen-speak now, f-this, f-that. And I know what dabbing is,” she said.

Per Seygal, the last day of business will be July 30.

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