Teddy Sourias and Craft Concepts Group are excited to announce their first major expansion outside of Center City. The owners of BRU Craft & Wurst, Blume, Tradesman's, U-Bahn, Kontrol, Tinsel and Uptown Beer Garden will bring two of their signature brands to Northern Liberties. Starting on Memorial Day Weekend, look for Craft Beer Concepts inspired by BRU Craft & Wurst, and Craft Cocktail Concepts inspired by the newly opened Blume, at the new Piazza Pod Park by Post Brothers. Craft Concepts Group continues their expansion from a beer focused company to now include cocktails and natural wines. Look for Craft Beer Concepts Pod to be inspired by the flagship restaurant BRU (1318 Chestnut Street) that will focus on craft beer, and Craft Cocktail Concepts Pod to be inspired by the floral decor and natural wines/cocktails from Blume (1500 Locust Street). When opened, look for a signature exclusive beer Craft Concepts Group created just for Piazza Pod Park, plus three other craft drafts, a selection of craft cans, draft and frozen cocktails and natural wines. The Craft Concepts Group pods look to open on Memorial Day Weekend, pending permits and approvals. For more about the grand opening of the entire pod park, stay tuned for more information from Post Brothers.
“Craft Concepts Group is excited to expand to Northern Liberties,” said Sourias. “We view Piazza Pod Park as a highly unique opportunity. We are thrilled to be selected as a foundational piece of what promises to be a vibrant and fun project in the fast growing neighborhood. I strongly believe in the vision Post Brothers has created for the area around The Piazza. There is so much potential for this project. There is nothing else like this pod park in the entire Philadelphia region. It was a no brainer we would want to be part of it.”
After several years of discussing potential projects, Craft Concepts Group has inked a deal to collaborate with Post Brothers on Piazza Pod Park. “When the idea of Piazza Pod Park came along, we jumped at the chance as this is a great project totally on brand for our mission and vision. We want to push boundaries and change neighborhoods - and we were in sync from the start,” added Sourias.
When opened, the pod park will feature 35,000 square feet of outdoor space that is uniquely Northern Liberties, with a combination of dining, art, civic space, kids and fitness components, as well as regular entertainment and events. Capturing the artistic and design-centric character of the Northern Liberties neighborhood that surrounds it, the Pod Park will feature retail spaces made entirely of recycled shipping containers, two mega-scale installations from internationally acclaimed artists, and a local artists in residence program with regular classes.
Inside the park, Craft Concepts Group has leased two of the shipping pod spaces and will convert them into mini, stand-alone bars. Craft Concepts Group will partner on the pods with local distiller, Manatawny Still Works. Manatawny will be the third business involved in the Pod Park from East Passyunk Avenue, joining James Beard nominated Chef and Baker Tova du Plessis from Essen Bakery, and Best of Philly Award-Winning Independent Toy Store Tildie's Toy Box. Together, with Manatawny, look for Craft Concepts Group to continue to evolve their brand that now extends to include not only craft beer and whisky, but also craft cocktails and natural wine.
In the first pod, Craft Beer Concepts inspired by BRU Craft & Wurst, Sourias will celebrate and honor the company's flagship restaurant and bar located in Midtown Village.The second pod, Craft Craft Cocktail Concepts inspired by Blume, is a floral tribute to the brand-new restaurant and bar that is an internet sensation and Instagrammer paradise in Rittenhouse Square.
At the bars, look for four draft and two frozen cocktails using exclusively Manatawny Stillworks Spirits. At the taps, look for a focus on local craft beer - four taps per pod including PBC Walt Wit, PBC Kenzinger, a special beer TBD made just for the pod park and served exclusively in the pods, and fourth tap rotating IPA from local independent breweries such as Love City, Mainstay Independent, and Tired Hands. Additionally, look for 16oz cans of beer to be available, rotating from local independent breweries. Additionally, there will also be four 12oz cans available of local Hard Seltzer and Cider, and two natural wine additions.
When selected a spirits partner, picking Manatawny Stillworks was a natural selection. Craft Concepts Group pours and partners with the company already at BRU, Tradesman's, Kontrol and Blume. “We are big fans of the Manatawny Stillworks team, as well as their quality and local products,” said Craft Concepts Group’s Director of Operations Alex Bokulich, “Given that we had chosen to go ‘all local’ with our beverage offerings, the choice to partner with Manatawny was an easy one. We already work with them and pour at Tradesman's, BRU and Blume - and this takes that relationship to an entirely new level. They have done great things - including their tasting room on East Passyunk Avenue. They are definitely a company on the move, like we are, and we believe a great fit as partners.”
For design and turnaround of the pods in time for a Memorial Day Weekend launch, Craft Concepts Group turned to interior designer Anne White of AGW Interiors. After the success at Tinsel, Tradesman's and Blume, Craft Concepts Group partnered again with interior designer to ensure that both pods are aesthetically completely different, and help to reinforce that they are no longer just a beer bar company.
“After our success at Tinsel, Tradesman's and Blume, Anne White was a natural fit for us - she knows our design aesthetic and brand - and we needed someone to jump in and get the job done in a thoughtful way,” said Sourias. “We also had to turn around the pods fairly quickly - and as Anne has done with Tinsel and especially Blume - speed is her middle name. We appreciate her flexibility and adaptability. She also hadn't worked on pods, so she was a great partner to experience pod design with - and along the way we learned many lessons.”
Sourias added, “CCG has opened many pop-up concepts - including our largest, Uptown Beer Garden and Tinsel. We also have vast experience in doing pop-up events, pop-up New Year's Eve and rooftop events. This was a different direction for us, though, and White was a natural partner. Instead of going bigger and better, this was all about us working together to go smaller and seeing what we could do in a very tight fixed space. It was lots of fun and a nice challenge. It was also a nice contrast to us preparing to open Uptown Beer Garden at the very same time - from that large 9,000+ square foot space, to the space the size of a shipping container.”
Sourias, White and the CCG teams been working round the clock (in the rain) not only on the pods, but also new elements of Uptown Beer Garden (set to open this Thursday).
The BRU inspired pod will feature BRU’s signature colors and branding, and will be their way of celebrating the six year old business that started the hospitality group. The pod will feature BRU’s signature red and black colors, and it will continue the use of live edge and reclaimed wood throughout to help tie together the design and feel.
The Blume inspired pod will showcase the design aesthetic of Blume and showcase the company’s new direction that now includes cocktails and wine. For decor, look for the same floral wallpaper found in the interior of Blume, plus vintage picture frame menus, colored gem mirrors, plants, planters, reclaimed wood, and similar color stylings.
“I decided to take the colors and inspiration from the heavily ‘beer garden’ themed interior and exterior of BRU and bring them to Craft Beer Concepts at the Pod Park,” said White. “BRU is the staple of the Craft Concepts Group family. I wasn't here when it originally opened - so it was exciting to revisit the brand with Teddy and his team. I think after six years, the outside of the Pod with the BRU branding will bring back some wonderful nostalgic memories. Back when BRU opened in Center City, Midtown Village was just starting out and there was nothing immediately nearby - and now BRU is the hub of activity on Chestnut Street. I feel honored to be part of a project that celebrates that.”
White added, “ For the other pod, I used Blume as a launching point for the ‘cocktail’ pod because of the successes the beverage program is having and how well the new spot is being received. The response over at Blume has been electric and almost overwhelming - we are so thrilled that new and return customers alike are loving what we created. What not a better way to harness that energy and take it to another level.”
Craft Concepts Group new pods are set to grand open in time for Memorial Day Weekend - pending final permits and construction. When opened, they will join over a dozen other food and beverage pods from top restaurants and chefs in the city. While Craft Concepts Group works with neighborhood organizations in Midtown Village and Rittenhouse Square, they have never worked in a tight-knit culinary community before.
“Piazza Pod Park gives us a chance to work side-by-side with other amazing small businesses, chefs and fellow entrepreneurs that are going to be in the Pod Park with us. This is something we haven't been a part of before, and we can't wait to be part of that togetherness and energy. It is already a community where we can turn next door and ask to borrow a ‘cup of sugar.’ We think it is a great mix of businesses and we are very familiar with some of the strong brands, like Dim Sum House, Lokal Artisan Foods, Mama Maria's Italian Ice and Essen Bakery. This also sets us up for future partnerships and collaborations with some of these amazing vendors.”
On top of the benefit of expanding to a new part of the city, and working in a new culinary community, CCG will continue to showcase and position itself as a lead hospitality group that pioneers and transforms under-utilized spaces. Sourias said, “In the past three years, Craft Concepts Group have been focused on creating exceptional pop-up bars, restaurants and new events, in addition to expanding our out of restaurant catering operations. The Piazza Pod Park will take that focus to an all new level for our restaurant group, where we will have two year-round pop-ups to engage with new customers in entirely new ways.”
Sourias added to stay tuned, as the pods will continue to evolve and expand their offerings as the year goes on. Down the road, look for collaborations with other local partners, events they will sponsor in the Pod Park, and some big surprises in fall and winter.
For now, look for Uptown Beer Garden to open this Thursday and the Pods to debut next week.
“What a crazy time with Blume just opening, Uptown on the way, and now this new opportunity in Northern Liberties. It has been organized chaos but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We tend to shine when the pressure is on. Right now, this is the most projects we have ever opened in a short period of time - and the team is really stepping up around the city. They are our rock and we are fostering everyone's talents. But its a fast ride and lots of coffee is involved. I am not even sure if we would even know what to do with ourselves if there was a slow season. We love getting to work and staying busy - and keeping the creative juices flowing.”
Sourias concluded by saying, “This summer, look for Craft Concepts from one side of the city to the other - with operations scaling from Uptown Beer Garden in Center City, to Blume in Rittenhouse, to BRU and Tradesman’s in Midtown Village, and now to the Piazza Pod Park in Northern Liberties.”
For more information about the pods, and other developments, follow the new Instagram account for Craft Concepts Group at @CCGPHL, as well as follow BRU Craft & Wurst and Blume on Facebook.