An Update: Want to Buy the General Lafayette Inn?

It would be nice to have the lights back onThe fate of the General Lafayette Inn seems to be of ongoing interest to beer drinkers and potential business owners far and wide – our previous post on the topic is constantly receiving heavy search traffic and many return visits.  And if you are one of those looking to re-open the bar, your chance has come at last.

After much legal wrangling, the General Lafayette Inn (and its outbuildings) are featured in a sheriff’s sale scheduled for August 31.  Sovereign Bank is aiming high – the amount they’d like to get is $1,081,376.98 (plus another number just north of $3500 in costs).  One presumes the high sticker price comes from loans they made to open the ill-fated Tied House in Philadelphia proper – it’s hard to imagine the Lafayette Hill location commanding that sort of value, even with the brewing equipment and liquor license – but it’s also possible that a much lower bid might be accepted on the day.  (A slight aside: there used to be a streetcar line from the city that stopped right in front of the General Lafayette – having decent public transit would make its location much, much more attractive – but alas, the prospective buyer will have to make do with the parking lot).

Two parcels make up the current property – the houses behind the main colonial building that were once used for bed & breakfast accommodation are separate from the restaurant and liquor license – it’s also possible that those could be divided, though given the layout, it’s difficult to see how that would be usefully accomplished without some fairly heavy redevelopment which could further detract from (or possibly destroy) the historic context (and, potentially, fabric) of the main building.  As discussed before, the site has great potential, but it needs some careful planning and thoughtful management.

Hopefully someone with a respect for history, knowledge of great beer and some business creativity will be at Courtroom A at the Montgomery Country Courthouse in Norristown by 1 pm on August 31st with a view toward taking on docket #201017050 – local beer fans (and, one might guess, the resident ghosts) will be grateful if the General Lafayette ends up in safe hands.

Update (August 31, 2011): The property was sold for costs – if you know the buyer, we’re all ears…

Update (October 5, 2012): Still on the market

Update (March 13, 2013): A new hope

…Said George Pal to his Bride

Beer! Racing! Together!Finally, two of my favorite activities are coming together, not unlike an existential Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: a festival celebrating local beer is being held at the racetrack. The brains behind Philly Beer Week and TrackPackPA, the quite-entertaining people who have been working hard to raise the profile of Pennsylvania horse racing, are holding the first annual (so it is hoped) PA Craft Beer Fest at Parx (née Philadelphia Park) on September 10th.

In addition to beer from 20 Pennsylvania breweries, there will be local food galore (though, unlike many festivals, you are also welcome to BYO food) as well as music, a little volleyball and, of course, a prime spot along the rail. Given that racetrack food and drink is beyond appalling most of the time, this is a unique opportunity – it is a prime opportunity to enjoy a day at the track without starving (or overpaying for a suspicious hot dog).

If you’ve never played the ponies before, it’s entirely possible that sampling a few of the region’s finest beers could improve your odds. Of course, you are more than welcome to tap seasoned, and, occasionally, lucky, handicappers like this writer for advice; I’m always willing to hand out a live longshot if it involves a (good) drink. And don’t worry about being in unfamiliar surrounds at Parx – it may have been the home of  Smarty Jones (now plying his trade in Uruguay, at least for part of the year) it’s no Saratoga or Churchill Downs, so don’t look for ladies in hats or men in late-season seersucker suits (though you are more than welcome to develop a drinking game based on spotting them). Do expect to see people poring over their copies of the Daily Racing Form before heading to the windows to place bets, and feel free to ask for ideas on the finer points of pedigree analysis or to discover which jockeys are on hot streaks; racetrack people are friendly people.

What could be more fun (and appropriate) than cheering the horse you’ve backed home while enjoying something from Victory? And how many beer festivals give you the opportunity to win back your entrance fee?

It’s a day not to be missed.