The Boot & Saddle

The Boot & Saddle Rides Again?

South Philly’s Boot & Saddle has new operators: Mark Christman of Ars Nova Workshop and Evan Clancy from Fountain Porter.

In my South Philadelphia neighborhood, one totem that brings me the greatest pride and joy is The Boot & Saddle. Designed by a local entrepreneur, bar owner and one-time devoted Navy man Pete DelBorrello, the tin-ceiling, Naval ephemera-covered saloon was created as a respite for fellow sailors, a home away from home where country music reigned supreme. When I lived in this same area in the 1980s, the Boot was a weird hang out for drunken punks and old South Philly guys smoking DiNobilis.

Vacant for several decades with a diverse list of onlooking wanna-be buyers (including myself) vying for Boot & Saddle’s attention, the Broad & Ellsworth barroom and stage (to say nothing of the battered neon sign) got its eventual, worthwhile re-boot courtesy restauranteur Avram Hornik, his Four Corners Management), partner Mark Fichera and R5 Productions’ Sean Agnew in 2013. Under their rule, the Boot & Saddle thrived as a narrow, rocking live venue, craft beer saloon and handsome sandwich/burger salon.

the boot & saddle

I won’t bore you with the list of bands I saw, the drinks I drank or the burgers I removed the bread from, but the Boot & Saddles was a great neighborhood hangout where I could come and go and come and go again with ease.

That is until the fucking pandemic turned a crowded house into an empty wasteland and Agnew/Fichera had to pitch Peter to pay the Paul of its other venues such as Union Transfer. So, it was neon boot lights out. Again.

That is, until this week when Philadelphia avant-garde jazz curator and promoter Mark Christman of Ars Nova Workshop and Evan Clancy from Fountain Porter put their names on the line which is dotted so to operate a new Boot & Saddle.

Christman’s Ars Nova Workshop is beloved for its floating experimental music and improvisational jazz shows located everywhere from the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Fringe HQ, PhilaMOCA and the RUBA Club – the latter two rooms, this week playing host to Ars Nova jams with George (March 30 at the PMOCA) and Philly sax heroes Immanuel Willkins and Odean Pope (March 31 at the RUBA). Clancy is renowned for making great eats and fine cocktails at the South Philadelphia-located Fountain Porter.

Whether or not, Christman will curate an all jazz/avant music program is up in the air at present. Here’s hoping that the two of them work out the jams sooner than later for another hot summer on the Broad Street block and that they turn the neon boot on ASAP.

South Philly misses that artificial neon sunshine.


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