Philly food and drink scene

Bar reopens on long-closed Sansom Street after yet another water pipe issue

The tavern was shut down for nearly three weeks.

Crews dig below Sansom Street to find the problem at Bar

Crews dig below Sansom Street to find the problem at Bar

Courtesy Patrick Iselin
danya

Update 5:20 p.m.: Bar has reopened

Just as business was bouncing back after the water main break, Midtown Village dive Bar was forced to shut down for three weeks. The issue? Yet another problem with underground piping.

The tavern at 1309 Sansom St. was just starting to rebound when the new issues surfaced, managing partner Patrick Iselin said. That stretch of Sansom was blocked off to cars and pedestrians for nearly a year while the city worked to fix a giant water main break that caused havoc in July 2018. It didn’t reopen until July 2019.

“Conservatively, the businesses were down at least 15%” because of the loss of foot traffic, said Iselin, whose title is CEO of the Vintage Syndicate.

Along with wine destination Vintage and other spots, the restaurant group’s holdings include whiskey/jazz destination Time, just a few doors down from Bar.

While Time’s underground piping was replaced by the city during the water main repair work because it was “close to ground zero,” Iselin said, Bar’s was not. Though the basement did flood, Bar’s “lateral” (the pipe that transports water used inside the building to the city sewer system) was left alone, he said.

Until last night — when the lateral was replaced at Bar’s expense. The total cost was more than $15,000, per Iselin.

The replacement happened after Bar spent several months battling a recurring plumbing blockage. The problem was determined to be somewhere beneath the street. While managers waded through the process of getting all the proper permits to dig — excavation requires a street closure, plus police to watch over the process — Bar ended up having to close indefinitely on Nov. 6.

“Without working toilets, we can’t open,” Iselin explained.

That was a bummer for the tavern’s many regulars, who include lots of folks in the restaurant industry. Bar is the kind of no frills place that underpromises and overdelivers, with an extensive beer selection and well-traveled staff making drinks.

Finally, in the wee hours as Monday crept into Tuesday, crews hired by the Vintage Syndicate dug into the street to try to find the issue. They couldn’t even find the original lateral, which had just been replaced 11 years ago, per Bar co-owner Jason Evenchik. So they gave up an installed a new one.

Iselin is thrilled to finally be reopening, but is not excited about the cost to fix what he believes is a city-caused issue.

“I one hundred percent think that the water main debacle of 2018 and all the subsequent digging and heavy machinery and a year’s worth of roadwork was responsible for breaking our poor little sewer lateral,” he said.

Either way, the dive’s fans can raise a glass: repairs have been made. Bar is now reopen — just in time for the biggest drinking night of the year.

Want some more? Explore other Philly food and drink scene stories.

Mornings in the know

Sign up for Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter for a daily roundup of Philadelphia’s most pressing news, top interesting stories, fun tidbits, and relevant events.

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn article!

We don’t have a paywall, and never will. Instead, we depend on readers like you to keep our newsroom jamming on stories about Philadelphia. If you like what you see, will you support our work?

Thanks for reading a Billy Penn story

We don’t have a paywall, and our daily newsletter is free. Instead, YOU are key to keeping our nonprofit newsroom running strong. If you like what you see, will you join as a member today?

This story was powered by readers

Readers like you make articles like this possible, so thanks for your support. Want to make sure we stick around? Become a sustainer with a recurring contribution!

Tell a friend about Billy Penn

Thanks for reading another article — and we’re grateful for your support! Want to help a friend start their day with Billy Penn? Send them to our newsletter signup page.