In 1996, Mike “Scoats” Scotese had recently assumed ownership of a longtime bar on Frankford Avenue, and he wanted to spruce it up with a unique name, preferably with no reference to his own. The vision that ended up guiding his decision involved ingredients straight out of the mind of David Lynch: A rural location and unexpected symbolism.
“I was visiting a friend in the Sunbury area,” Scotese said, “and he had an empty bag of Middleswarth’s chips. It was a white bag with a row of evergreens on it, and a little bit of yellow. And I thought a woodsy feel would be good. Twin Peaks with the majestic Douglass firs came to mind, and that’s when it all happened.”
He christened it The Grey Lodge Pub, a splice of Twin Peaks‘ White Lodge and Black Lodge. So yes, the name of one of Philadelphia’s top beer bars — and, according to Esquire, one of the best in the country — is a nod to Lynch’s Twin Peaks, the early ’90s psychological thriller that was recently revived for a third season by Showtime.
Scotese was a fanatic back in the day. He doesn’t recall exactly why he started watching the show in 1990, but he remembers thinking how much it differed from everything else on the air.
“TV was pretty boring back then,” Scotese said. “I liked that it was quirky and smart and fun and dark.”
He not only watched every episode of the first two seasons, he taped them on VHS so he could rewatch them over and over.
By the time he gained ownership of the bar in 1996, he figured most people would’ve forgotten about the series that ran in 1990 and 1991 (unless they borrowed his VHS tapes), but he was undeterred. Scotese decided Grey Lodge would be a creative way to pay homage.
In “Twin Peaks,” the White Lodge is a place of goodness and the Black Lodge a place of darkness and evil. But he didn’t like either of those names, given the Black Lodge’s darkness and that he thought the White Lodge sounded “like a sort of skinhead place.” Scotese chose the middle.
“Everything in life is grey,” he said.
At first, Scotese inserted several references to Twin Peaks in addition to the name and the woodsy feel. The bar served a Sawmill Sandwich and had red drapes, several animal heads and a big light-up ice cream cone, like those in the show’s diner.
Some subtle nods are still there: The sign outside, for instance, features an owl. Owls are a constant presence in the show and may be symbols or representatives of the Black Lodge. Scotese said if you look closely there’s a log lady image in the bathroom tile.
He doesn’t publicize the Twin Peaks theme, but said some people figure it out. A few years ago, Dogfish Head held an event at the Grey Lodge featuring its White Lodge and Black Lodge beers along with a special-edition Grey Lodge brew.
Scotese, who threw away his VHS tapes of the first two seasons when the series came out on DVD, rewatched the episodes in anticipation for Showtime’s revival. So far, he’s liked what’s he seen of the new Twin Peaks.
“A lot of the Black Lodge scenes are just weird in an Eraserhead kind of way,” Scotese said. “It’s just really tedious if you’re not in the right mood. Of the four hours I’ve seen so far I’ve been the right place for it.”
It’s also got him thinking about future business possibilities related to the show.
“I definitely think a bar called the Bookhouse would be cool,” he said. “Maybe that’ll be a future project.”