Fishtown brunch spot Ida Mae’s to close next month

It was one of the neighborhood’s first new restaurants.

Ida Mae’s
Mark Dent/Billy Penn

Ida Mae’s Bruncherie, one of the first in Fishtown’s new restaurant wave, will close for good after Labor Day after 10 years in business.

Proprietor Mary Kate Ralston confirmed the news Tuesday morning to Billy Penn, pointing to an empty dining room, an all-too-familiar sight on weekdays these last couple years.

“That’s why we’re closing,” she said.

Weekend business had still been solid for the brunch spot, which opened in 2007 and is known for its huevos rancheros and Irish breakfast, but Ralston wanted a steadier career for supporting her 7-year-old daughter. She previously worked for the National Park Service and plans to take a job teaching.

After the National Park Service and before Ida Mae’s, Ralston held restaurant jobs at Morning Glory, the Khyber, Standard Tap and Royal Tavern. She started planning Ida Mae’s in 2005, and launched the restaurant two years later.

Back then, Fishtown was in the beginning stages of its current boom. Johnny Brenda’s, Modo Mio and other trendy options had recently opened near Frankford and Girard, but Norris Street, which is now home to Andy’s Chicken, Loco Pez and Cedar Point, had Rocket Cat Cafe and little else. Ida Mae’s replaced a coffee shop called Norris Street Cafe. Before that, the location was George’s Corner Store.

“We were the only thing in the neighborhood for a long time,” Ralston said. “Now there’s a lot. I love what the neighborhood’s become. I love the way it’s evolved.”

In its early days, Ida Mae’s served dinner in addition to brunch and lunch. Inquirer restaurant critic Craig Laban wrote in 2007 that the restaurant’s nighttime offerings of tuna tartare, mussels and crab cakes were “Fishtown’s most ambitious fare.”

Ralston said she’d been considering closing Ida Mae’s for the last two years. She’ll continue to live in the area but will miss being at the center of Fishtown’s revival.

“The main thing,” she said, “was just being part of the neighborhood that was growing.”

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Food, Fishtown