by Jarek Cotto
Johnny Brenda’s is a beloved restaurant, bar, and music venue in Fishtown. Since moving to the Fishtown area in the summer of 2008, I have walked by this place and seen it bustling with young Fishtowners. Eventually, I asked about this place. That’s when I found out that it is one of the most renown music venues in the city. Not only that, but the restaurant/bar aspect of Johnny Brenda’s is also immensely popular.
JB’s was once a gritty tavern at the intersection of Frankford Ave. and Girard Ave. The second level, is now a 250 person music venue, was originally a boarding house. Since transforming to Johnny Brenda’s it has become an iconic cornerstone of the neighborhood. The place is constantly packed on the weekends with every hipster in the area. Just walking by this place is chaotic. You see people standing outside or sitting on one of the outdoor tables, and you can’t tell who is there for the restaurant, the bar, or the concert venue. It’s just a ton of people having a good time.
Everything at JB’s is high quality. They boast an eclectic menu using fresh, locally grown ingredients. A full menu is served from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. each day, with brunch added on the weekends. The menu is written on chalkboards because it is updated a few times a day to reflect what is in season. You won’t find any Corona here. Johnny Brendas serves all-draft microbrews from local breweries like Yards, Sly Fox, Troegs, Victory, Stoudt’s, Flyish Fish, and Dogfish Head. It’s places like Johnny Brenda’s that thrive in neighborhoods like Fishtown. Johnny Brenda’s success parallels the growth in Fishtown and they thrive off each other.