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A must when in Media, D’Ignazio’s Towne House had been a fixture on Veterans Square for 65 years. Countless generations of families celebrated milestones there, businesses near and far hosted events there, and even more loyal patrons enjoyed great fare and libations.
That is, until it closed in December 2015.
The property sat undeveloped for some time until, to the delight of foodies near and far, The Towne House was reborn under the watchful eye of Brian McLaughlin and Letterkenny Hospitality Group. A native of Ireland, McLaughlin has a fondness for what he calls “meaningful places” and he was immediately smitten with Media’s “pure Americana” vibe. He says he purchased “such an iconic place because I felt I could return it to its former glory.”
Several of its unique dining rooms opened in late 2020, with more to come. We had a chance to learn more about what McLaughlin envisions for what is already becoming a Delco hotspot once again.
Brian McLaughlin: When we started planning, we knew right away that we wanted to expand on the original Towne House’s different rooms. We spent time speaking to the locals, and everyone had a story about their favorite room where they would go regularly and celebrate major life events. We figured why stop there? We wanted this spot to be for everyone! We decided to create separate menus for each of our restaurants to complete the experience of sitting in different spaces.
What’s actually open right now, and when will everything be open?
As of April 2021 our Irish pub and restaurant, The Shebeen; our cocktail bar, The Colony Cocktail Club; and our outdoor restaurant, Idlewild, are open. The Towne House and Towne Hall are on schedule to open later this spring.
Tell us a little bit about the decor/themes and menus for each dining room.
The Shebeen is meant to transport you to a speakeasy in Ireland — which is what the name means. I’m from County Tyrone, Patrick Kennedy — our good friend and general manager of our sister restaurant The Ridley House — is from Donegal, and Chef Shane Diggin is from Kerry. Typically, it’s a cozy little pub with dark wood and hospitable, knowledgeable bartenders that make you feel like you’re “one of us.” We kept the heart of a true Shebeen, but instead of illegal alcohol, as the name would imply in Ireland, we infused it with a skilled bar team, modern twists on classic cocktails, and more than 330 whiskeys.
The Colony Cocktail Club is where that bar team really gets to show off and shine! It’s a sophisticated lounge decked in plush velvets and vintage decor where we’re serving up experimental cocktails, tableside experiences and light fare.
Idlewild is an outdoor oasis where patterned tile and reclaimed wood meet fresh flowers and ivy, and guests can enjoy seafood and brightly colored summer cocktails. The menu reflects the lively atmosphere, with fresh and vibrant frozen cocktails and seasonal light fare.
Towne House will pay homage to its namesake while bringing a fresh new twist. Here, old meets new with farm-to-table cuisine, an extensive wine list, and ingredient-driven cocktails. It’s an airy modern space, with touches of the old Towne House preserved and on display.
Towne Hall is an event space clad in emerald green tile and dark reclaimed woods. This is where events will take center stage — literally! A stage will serve as the focal point of the space. It’ll function as a multi-purpose entertainment venue and event space.
More than 330 whiskeys?! What motivated that many selections?
Whiskey is near and dear to our hearts — we’re Irish! It’s quite a collection, and as we open, we plan to have some programming to support that, such as whiskey clubs, flights, tastings and pairings. We specifically want to showcase everything Ireland has to offer as well as a hefty selection of American and rare whiskeys from around the world.
What’s the exclusive liquor and mixology magic at The Colonial Cocktail Club all about?
That’s where our bar team gets to geek out. Our staff is a mix of some of the best talent Philly and Media have to offer. The “lab” is where all the magic takes place! We take great pride in always providing fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups. We also make all of our own liqueurs, cordials and infusions — no preservatives here. We’re now hosting cocktail classes, so guests can come and take a peek behind the scenes and join in on the action.
Have you booked any (limited-seating) events yet, and what types of events are you hoping to book in the future?
We have had a few small events and a cocktail class. We expect that, as regulations relax and Towne Hall gets set to open, we’ll start to book more events.
Who are the brains behind the culinary team?
Shane Diggin is our corporate chef and he oversees everything. James O’Hara and Shawn Moore are the executive chefs for The Shebeen/Idlewild and Towne House/Towne Hall, respectively. But, as always, we’re one big family under the The Towne House roof.
We must ask … how did the pandemic impact renovations and the opening?
How hasn’t it might be the better question! Honestly, this one could be an essay on its own. If anyone is curious, then just come by and we’ll have a drink about it. We did have to adjust quite a bit for pandemic precautions. We added barriers between tables, reduced our seating and took all possible precautions.
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And a final note: McLaughlin said he’d “like to thank, at this stage, all the building departments, the mayor’s office, patrons and local businesses for welcoming us so genuinely and warmly. In these difficult times it’s so good to know we are in the best town possible!”
Visit The Towne House 117 Veterans Square, Media; call (484) 445-2041. Open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.