Walk through the front doors of Manayunk’s Union Jack’s too quickly, and one has to stop his or herself from crashing into a second door just a few inches ahead in a dim corridor connecting to the bar and dining area.
Little attention seems to be devoted to interior design and atmosphere, except for British flags draped on the walls. But for what it lacks in flair, Union Jack’s compensates for with an extensive beer list and a menu heavy on comfort food. General manager and bartender Pete Howarth is there to greet customers on most days from behind the bar. In the four years he’s served at Union Jack’s, Haworth says the bar has quietly maintained a steady customer base despite Manayunk’s transitional nature since it opened in 1996, joining additional locations in Glendside and Boyertown.
“Our customers range from parents with kids who have settled down, to college students and young people working in the neighborhood,” Howarth says.
Despite a shifting cycle of customers, Union Jack’s chicken wings have remained the most popular item on the menu.
“People like meaty wings, not the little rinky-dink kind,” Howarth says. The other variable in the equation for wings is the sauce, which Howarth says is all home-made on location from a secret family recipe. Buffalo wing sauce is ordered most frequently, but customers also choose from a handful of savory sauces from homemade recipes at Union Jack’s – with flavors such as bourbon molasses, apple honey barbecue, and honey Caribbean. Some of the other menu items Howarth recommends are the Sante Fe chili, the buffalo chicken wrap and Maryland-style lump crab cakes. Rounding out the menu is a beer selection of 80 to 100 bottles, with about 10 beers rotated on draft. Union Jack’s pub is open from 4 p.m. to about 2 a.m. on weekdays and from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.