Fred Beebe and Gabe Guerrero know the phrase “farm-to-table” tends to get thrown around a lot in the restaurant industry these days.
It’s why they’ve set strict parameters for themselves at their own “farm-to-glass” cocktail bar Post Haste, the elegantly refurbished, experimentally-minded East Kensington venue that opened early June.
Beverage director Beebe, for instance, only uses ingredients from east of the Mississippi for the bar’s menu. On the kitchen side, the same rule applies to the protein and produce, with a little leniency for spices impossible to source regionally.
The limitations force the pair to approach their menus in ways that “are much more creative” than they otherwise would have, director of operations Guerrero told Billy Penn. Ultimately, it’s about adhering to an idea central to every aspect of Post Haste, down to its name.
“By separating [posthaste] into two words we were able to kind of reinterpret it as ‘after the haste’ — after you’re running around for the day and want a place to chill,” said Beebe. “But also, looking past the haste of global supply and immediacy.”
Sustainability is a subject the two friends have been passionate about ever since their early days as M.F.K. Fisher- and Michael Pollan-reading students at Pitzer College where they first met, and where they ran with two other buddies an on-campus eatery inspired by their readings and fueled by arguments over the most responsible way to source their ingredients.
From the bar to the kitchen and back
After years of experiencing industry standards first-hand — Beebe at Momofuku Ssam and Sunday in Brooklyn, and Guerrero at Stephen Starr restaurants El Vez and The Dandelion — the two are approaching their role as business owners by questioning their place in the global supply chain and the footprint venues like theirs traditionally demand.
“Food ‘miles’ is a big [concern] for us,” Guerrero said. “But food waste is also a huge component of the industry in general. A lot of times you’re only using a portion of that ingredient, you’re not using it in its totality.”
To avoid that, there’s regular cross-utilization between the bar and kitchen, which serves modern American cuisine with a European influence. Red wine dregs are added to a vinegar mother for a housemade red wine vinegar. Solid leftovers from the kitchen’s pressed kumquats are kept in alcohol, their oils later extracted and spritzed onto the bar’s That’s Fashion, Baby! — Post Haste’s take on an Old Fashioned. Strawberry tops from the kitchen’s crudos are turned to syrup used by Beebe to reinforce his agrodolce.
The chef’s selection, a daily-changing starter consisting of parts of ingredients left out of the kitchen’s other recipes, is a menu item that’s “tailored around minimizing food waste,” Guerrero said, a recent example being an herbed scallop ceviche that also incorporated the bar’s super juice.
It’s a concept the pair said they developed with Post Haste’s first chef, with whom they’ve since parted ways, that continues to be carried out with their current chef, Brandon Mac-Livingston.
A sense of locality
Instead of seasonal overhauls, Post Haste’s menus will change gradually throughout the year, depending on availability of ingredients and the results of the pair’s experimentation with them.
The start of blueberry season, for example, saw Beebe contemplating spritzes and spreads, smoking the fruit and even pickling it for “a weird, blueberry dirty martini thing,” he said. “It’s how you end up with more interesting flavors and more interesting concepts.”
Food dishes start at $12 for ‘small shares’ like radish rillettes with green garlic and toast, grilled maitake with lemon verbena, sunflower, and horseradish. Larger plates, like chicken liver mousse with Belgian waffle, strawberry caramel, and mint, and Philly beignets sides of roast pork, fried purple cauliflower, and fondue, run from $14 to $17. Mains include the Post ham sandwich served with boardwalk fries ($16), an NJ black sea bass with kohlrabi cream and fish croquette ($27) and a pork tenderloin with collard greens, caramelized onions, and apple glaze ($29) as well as a few vegan and vegetarian options.
Cocktails hover around $14, with a dozen beers on offer (eight on tap, all from east of the Mississippi), along with 11 wines. The bar also serves ciders and non-alcoholic beers.
Another benefit of the partners’ approach are the relationships they’ve been building with regional suppliers; Beebe excitedly recalling recently sharing the condensed oatmilk he made with the farmer who had provided the oats — as well as the Appalachian allspice and cardamom leaves — that go into the bar’s Sippin’ the Tea cocktail.
It’s that awareness of geography, as opposed to a pursuit of temporary trendiness, that bolsters Post Haste’s identity.
“I think that that’s how places lose their sense of locality,” Beebe said. “Trying to force [a menu] versus being like, ‘let’s try this stuff at the farmers’ market and then use that as inspiration.’”
A balance of mood and mission
The same ideals guided the duo’s search for an appropriate home for their concept, Guerrero recalled.
“It was really important for Fred and I to take over a second generation space,” he said, explaining their desire to avoid a full build out in favor of maintaining as much of a “closed loop system” as possible. At one point a dive bar, the space had been refurbished some years ago into Ward 31, a venue that never launched.
Walking into Post Haste at 2519 Frankford Ave., there’s no indication that the polished wooden planks crisscrossing the ceiling were salvaged from the Atlantic City boardwalk post-Hurricane Sandy, that the dimmed lights hanging over the 16-seat bar are recycled Hendrick’s bottles, or that the bar counter itself, like much of the interior, is fully refurbished from a past business effort that never got off the ground.
It’s part of a balance between mood and mission, the success of the latter dependent on the quality of the former, the two believe.
“Obviously, vibe is very important to us,” said Guerrero, citing his involvement in Philly’s nightlife scene over the past 15 years as a resident DJ. He and Beebe have also been busy discussing upcoming events they’d like to host.
The deep 70-seat space also serves as a showcase for local, like-minded artists, the walls displaying pieces from recycled-art studio RAIR at the time of Billy Penn’s visit. It’s a visual flourish, Beebe explains, that helps “deepen our message” instead of blaring it at their patrons.
“People shouldn’t necessarily be coming here because we’re the ‘sustainable’ place.’ They should be coming here because we’re [a] fun spot, and we make great drinks and good food.” Beebe said.
“That’s the way that sustainability is going to get integrated into people’s lives.”
Update: The name of Post Haste’s opening chef has been removed at their request.