More Culture:

May 03, 2022

Dock Street Brewing Co. to close West Philly pub after 15 years

The brewery's South Philly location is remaining opening. The former firehouse location Cedar Park is being sold to an upstart brewery

Food & Drink Breweries
Dock Street Brewery Closure StreetView/Google

Dock Street Brewing Company's West Philadelphia brewpub will close at the former firehouse in Cedar Park. A new concept will take over the space on June 1, 2022. Dock Street South in Point Breeze will remain open.

Dock Street Brewing Co. will be vacating the converted West Philly firehouse where it has operated a restaurant and bar for the last 15 years. The space at the corner of 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue in Cedar Park will be taken over on June 1 by another business that has yet to be named.

Established in 1985 as Philadelphia's first microbrewery, Dock Street Brewing Co. moved into the first floor of 701 S. 50th Street in August 2007. The building, more than a century old, gave the brewery a new home base after the closure of its original location at 18th and Cherry streets, which had opened in Logan Square in 1989. 

The Dock Street South location, which opened in August 2019 at 2118 Washington Ave. in Point Breeze, will remain.

In a farewell letter on Tuesday, Dock Street Brewing Co. co-owner Rosemarie Certo thanked the neighborhood for its role in the evolution of the company:

I’m proud of who we are to the neighborhood and what we’ve collectively accomplished. I’ve watched members of our staff develop personally and professionally, whether they chose to make a career at Dock Street, or to supplement their own life’s passion. I’m truly grateful for the impact this beautiful neighborhood has had on me. I remember often saying that West Philadelphia served as a Utopian model for what every community in the US should be. Every time I walk into Dock Street Brewery, I am proud of the fact that we are a melting pot of so many races, creeds, and genders, ranging from newborns to grandparents. We had a great time being there together.

Certo said she will be pursuing the next chapter of her professional career, a project she has been working on for a decade. More details on her plans will be shared in the near future, she said.

Dock Street Brewing Co. was one of the first post-prohibition craft breweries founded in the United States, well before the craft-beer boom of subsequent decades, and became Philadelphia's first all-grain brewpub. The company's name is a nod to the city's seaport district, which had been the largest producer of beer in the nation during the revolutionary era.

Certo, a photographer, founded the brewery with husband and restaurateur Jeffrey Ware. The couple sold the company in 1998 to Poor Henry's Brewery & Restaurant and bought it back in 2002 after Poor Henry's ceased operations. The opening of the brewpub at the firehouse five years later marked a transition to a pizza-centric restaurant concept that complemented the business' expanded lineup of experimental beers. Staples include the Bohemian Pilsner and Rye IPA.

The opening of Dock Street South enabled the brewery to increase its production and capacity at the 10,500-square-foot facility – a property that was once theContinental Brewing Co. in the early 1900s and a tile factory and taxi repair shop. Dock Street now brews about 4,500 barrels of beer annually at the Washington Avenue site and has developed a presence as a neighborhood restaurant and event space similar to what it was able to cultivate in West Philly.

The decision to move out of the firehouse follows the tumultuous period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the public health crisis, Dock Street had opened a cannery and tasting lounge in a neighboring space, which was open from 2017-2020.

Certo said the equipment of the West Philly brewpub will be sold to the business taking over the space.

"On June 1st, there will be a talented duo taking over Dock Street’s space in the Firehouse – they are young, ambitious, hardworking, and kind," Certo said. "They are seasoned brewers and will make fantastic beers and other fare. We can’t wait for you to meet them and to welcome them to the community."

Details about what's next for the space are expected to be revealed in the near future.