Franklin Square park launches an open-air cocktail lounge

The main room at Franklin’s View Beer Garden. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

The main room at Franklin’s View Beer Garden. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

A semi-permanent tent erected in Philadelphia’s Franklin Square is opening this summer as a cocktail lounge.

Franklin’s View Beer Garden, built on the eastern lawn of the park along Sixth Street, has two open-air rooms — totaling 7,300 square feet — with wooden floors, high ceilings with hanging chandeliers, and wood plank walls that appear to be dripping with Spanish moss.

The roof is made of transparent plastic, as are the lengthwise walls, which can be pulled aside to open the space to the air.

The exterior of Franklin’s View Beer Garden in Franklin Square. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

“It just really does feel like you’re in a park,” said Amy Needle, CEO of Historic Philadelphia, which operates Franklin Square. “But a little bit fancier of a park than I think we’re used to.”

The space was built last year by the catering and event company Cescaphe as an outdoor wedding venue, when indoor events were impossible. Cescaphe also runs the concession in Franklin Square.

When Cescaphe was not using it for private events, the partially enclosed space was used by the public. In its new incarnation as Franklin’s View, it will be used as a bar and performance venue four nights a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Colleen Cheong and Aaron Mitchell of Concierge Ballroom in Old City dancing in the main room at Franklin’s View. They will be offering dance lessons and general ballroom dancing every Wednesday evening.(Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

“We always knew that the space would be available for the public,” said Needle. “What happens every morning is dancing from Chinatown — ladies come over and do dancing. People use it for yoga during the day. We’ve had storytime during the day, but we’re really excited to be launching the beer garden.”

The main room has table service. Guests can order from the bar and kitchen via digital menu with QR codes, featuring bar food like short rib sliders, flatbread pizza, fried calamari, and risotto rice balls. The summery cocktail menu features fruity drinks like a prickly pear margarita, spiked blackberry lemonade, and a Sugar Island Sunset (think Tequila Sunrise, but with coconut rum).

Some menu items on display at Franklin’s View Beer Garden in Franklin Square. (Peter Crimmins/WHYY)

The smaller, adjacent room is set up with games: oversized Jenga, Connect Four, and various tossing games. Bathrooms are onsite within the tented area.

The space will be programmed with weekly activities: Wednesday will be free dance lessons for a variety of styles by Concierge Ballroom in Old City, Thursdays will feature DJ Robert Drake (WXPN) spinning popular favorites across many decades and genres, Friday and Saturday evenings will feature live acoustic performances. All events are free.

Franklin Square often builds temporary, closed spaces within the park. For several weeks every summer it normally fences off the Square at night for the Chinese Lantern Festival, a ticketed attraction. However, due to both the pandemic and international travel restrictions, that festival has not come to Franklin Square for two years.

In the winter, the park typically erects an enclosed tent with space heaters for a colder-weather beer garden.

Needle said the Franklin’s View cocktail lounge will be dismantled in the fall, and she hopes to bring it back next year and make it a regular summer attraction.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal