Manayunk’s Bisou Bistro to add outdoor dining deck

 Bisou Bistro hopes that a deck will bring in more diners. (Matthew Grady for NewsWorks)

Bisou Bistro hopes that a deck will bring in more diners. (Matthew Grady for NewsWorks)

A pitch to install a deck at a Manayunk bistro was approved by community members last week.

Clark Gilbert, chef and proprietor of Bisou, a restaurant on the 4100 block of Main St., stood before the Manayunk Neighborhood Council seeking permission to install a deck adjacent to his property. The deck would be located in an alleyway that separates the restaurant from a neighboring building. 

Gilbert said that his restaurant does not receive deliveries through the alley, and stated that the construction would not block access for residents living behind the building would be maintained during and after construction.

The deck would be operated seasonally with seating for about 25 people. Because the alleyway serves as a driveway, the deck would be installed on the second floor of the building with a door leading from the restaurant to the deck.

Gilbert said he hoped to begin work on the project as soon as possible, but wanted community approval before bringing in a structural engineer.

Outdoor dining could boost business

According to Gilbert, times are tight at the restaurant.  Among other issues, a lack of parking – a Venice Island-based lot has yet to open – has proven to be a hardship for Bisou. .He hoped that the deck would attract additional business. 

“It’s a business survival proposal for me,” said Gilbert, “as the restaurant has never met expectations that we hoped it would.”

In 2009, Gilbert opened his first restaurant, Gemelli, in Narberth, according to his website. The restaurant, a BYOB, later moved to Main St. and was eventually transformed in Bisou, which serves updated French bistro fare.

Gilbert himself has made the rounds of the local fine-dining circuit, with stints at Restaurant Taquet in Wayne, the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons, La Terrasse, and other restaurants. His work at Center City’s Square Bar earned him the distinction of being “one of the city’s most talented chefs,” according to Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan.

“I’d like to think that we offer some of the most top notch food and service on the street,” he said.

Gilbert  expects to complete the deck this summer.

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