City Tavern, an Old City staple, to close due to pandemic-related drop in business

City Tavern, a colonial-themed restaurant on the site of a 1773 tavern in Philadelphia's Old City has closed due to decreased business stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Longtime chef-proprietor, Walter Staib, announced the closure in a statement released Monday. 

"After a wonderful journey, it is with heartbreaking sadness we announce the immediate closure of City Tavern Restaurant. While our chapter may have ended, there will surely be much more in store under the stewardship of the National Park Service of this 247-year-old treasure. It has been our privilege to be a part of so many special life occasions, and to have been a hallmark of the Philadelphia community through many great years, even during difficult times. Chef Staib would like to thank our friends, family, fans, guests, vendors, and staff for their stalwart support over the last 26 years of his proprietorship," Staid wrote.

In 1774, according to the restaurant's website, the tavern was “the unofficial meeting place" of delegates to the first Continental Congress at nearby Carpenters’ Hall, with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams among the participants. It was also the site of a farewell dinner in 1787 after the signing of the Constitution and a 1789 banquet for Washington as he was heading to New York for his inauguration, the site said.

The National Park Service, which owns the property, opened City Tavern in 1976 to coincide with the bicentennial after a restoration based on period images, written accounts and insurance surveys, the restaurant's site said. The original structure had been razed in 1854 following heavy damage from a fire two decades earlier.

The restaurant had been operated since 1994 by Staib, who said his contract with the government was nearing its end. Since taking over, Staib has also published cookbooks and has had two PBS series, most recently “A Taste of History," production of which is on hold due to the pandemic.


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