A/C at the El Bar

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Close to perfect as it already was, the El Bar just got a lot cooler.

Thanks to a new system installed last week, the watering hole at the corner of Front and Master now has central air conditioning. It’s a first for the tavern beneath the El, which has been serving customers in the neighborhood it calls South Kensington since 1965.

The A/C overhaul took a bunch of time and money to complete, according to longtime GM Jasper Del Carlino. “It used to get ridiculously hot in here,” he explained. “So we finally did something about it.”

Now, half a dozen gleaming white new ceiling vents blow cool air across both sides of the interior bar, which wraps around a divider wall to complete a square.

It’s a rare change for a spot that has managed to maintain its identity even as the demographics of the neighborhood shift. The drinks are cheap, the bartenders don’t take crap and the stage hosts everything from open mic comedy to karaoke to bands from out of town looking for an intimate hideaway.

Various media outlets have highlighted the bar as one of the hipster havens in the area. “Are you from the New York Times?” asked a wizened regular on seeing a professional camera pulled out. “Only New York Times would bother to shoot the streamers on our air conditioning vents.”

In actuality, though, the bar is one of the few places where residents both old and new mingle and all feel comfortable. On any given evening the crowd might include 20-somethings chugging PBRs at the pool table, 30-somethings propping craft beer next to strollers in the huge patio out back and 70-somethings leaning on Miller High Lifes beneath the flatscreen TVs.

And now they can stay extra cool while doing it.

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Danya Henninger

Danya Henninger is director of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the...