December 2016 marked the opening of the latest concept by Teddy Sourias of Craft Concepts (BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn, Uptown Beer Garden, Finn McCool’s Ale House).  Cinder  at 1500 Locust Street is a bar designed around ciders and sour beers, as well other varieties of craft brews on the 32 taps and 70+ bottles. Plus artisan pizza run by Jonathan Petruce and his culinary team. The rustic pizzas are made with creative and classical toppings while finished in custom-built wood-fired pizza oven. The menu also includes mussels, salads and small plates designed while focusing on local ingredients.

Photo by Kory Aversa

Beers flow from the  full custom design system housed in copper pipes. The bar also offers 10 wines by the glass and over 20 wines by the bottle. This stylish and sophisticated 2,400 square foot bar and dining room seats 34 on custom built high-tops and 34 on low-tops and banquets, with 16 at the bar.

“Cinder is a unique concept that shines the spotlight on ciders and sours together for a new genre of beer bar,” said Sourias. “We are essentially combining our favorite elements of a Belgian Beer cafe (our original inspiration), with a wine bar/pizza kitchen (which we think is perfect for the area).  Our intention is for this marriage to deliver an product that is consistently sophisticated and compelling, but intrinsically jovial and light-hearted.  The perfect place for a date or dinner out on the town, but also comfortable enough to stop in for a pint or glass of wine after a long day (or night).”
The concept behind Cinder comes from the growing regional demand for boutique and super-premium artisan ales and ciders. Especially for the gluten-free crowds. This new genre of bar takes elements of higher-end wine and cocktail bars and mixes them with inspiration from Belgium beer bars. The focus is on unique beer and cider program that identifies key styles that customers are passionate about, while serving them in a sophisticated yet approachable environment. The menu offers:
  • Wild Ales – 8 choices
  • Farmhouse & Abbey Ales – 6 choices
  • Natural Ciders – 6 choices
  • Crisp & Golden – 6 choices
  • Rich & Malty – 6 choices

“Our draft menu is the jewel of our establishment- a fully custom 32 tap system, with beer run through copper pipes to a steel draft box behind the main bar, “said Director of Operations Alex Bokulich. “Our primary focus is on two styles that we feel are at the forefront of beer/beverage culture in America today: wild/sour beers, with eight choices encompassing Belgian classics and the cutting edge of American craft, and natural/craft ciders, with six choices displaying both traditional French & Spanish products counterpointing a full slate of PA estate grown and pressed products from local farmers and artisans.  These taps will round out with a half dozen Belgian & American craft Farmhouse & Abbey ales, specific lines/profiles rotating to fit with the seasons, and the final twelve split between Crisp and Golden- focused on the new wave of American craft lagers, as well as the best and freshest IPA’s available, and Rich & Malty, displaying session/mild amber ales and lagers, all the way to behemoth imperial stouts.”

For wine lovers, Cinder will focus on natural and organic wines. Cinder’s spirits program will include full bar, with a wide selection of handmade American small batch products and custom cocktail list utilizes local and seasonal ingredients.

“The wine menu was carefully chosen to mirror this ambitious draft program, with a focus on small producers and farms/farmers, and natural, organic, and biodynamic wines that are made with few additives, in order to display products that are unique interpretations of the land itself,” added Bokulich.

Executive Chef Jonathan Petruce will serve elevated versions of casual favorites – and including local cheese and charcuterie boards, Pistachio Pizza with mortadella. mozzarella, and rosemary  or Saison Mussels with chickpeas, dried apricot, saffron, and oregano. The newest addition to the menu being Bowie Pie with toppings like Shepard’s Pie on top of a pizza!

Photo by Kory Aversa

Petruce brings 15 years of experience in the kitchen working at M Restaurant, Rae, Meme, and Little Fish (which Travel + Leisure Magazine named among the top 20 seafood restaurants in the country). Petruce also was co-chef of Petruce et al which garnered a three bell rating from Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig Laban and a three star rating from Philadelphia Magazine.

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“Jonathan was an easy choice for us to take the helm of the Cinder kitchen, given his familiarity with the company from Uptown Beer Garden, his interest and vigor for the products that we are focused on, plus the esteem of his experience,” said Sourias. “We are very excited to see the finesse and style he brings to this concept, which we have all worked extremely hard on.  It is our hope that he can help us create something that is truly special.”

It all was put into motion this summer of 2016 when Petruce was brought in to consult with Craft Concepts as the pop-up chef for Uptown Beer Garden‘s second season. Petruce helped to expand food offerings and fire up the grill with elevated street food and skewers. The new menu, along with a major increase in tables, extended season dates, expanded bars, new special events and other changes, all combined to help Uptown have a record year for both revenue and attendance.

After Uptown closed for the season, Petruce was tapped to help complete the team for Cinder. At Cinder, Petruce takes the lead in the kitchen – where the offerings focus on rustic pizza with creative and classical toppings like Cheeseburger Pizza with dry-aged beef, cheddar, fried onions, Romaine, pickles, and mustard, Brussels Pizza with bacon, mozzarella, and thyme or Lamb Sausage Pizza with mozzarella, house sausage and shishito peppers.

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For small plates we tried the Broccoli Tempura with spicy mayo and furikake, and Cinder Fries which were loaded with mozzarella, wiz, bacon, and ranch dressing. Dishes are  created in the open kitchen immediately visible from seating in the dining room, and the menu aims to pair with the extensive sour and cider list pouring on taps. Cinder is open everyday from 11:00am to 2:00am.

“I’ve been wanting to run a pizza-focused kitchen for many years, so this definitely is an exciting opportunity,” said Petruce. “Look for a menu with some traditionally casual food but in a fun and upscale way – like al pastor pizza, cheeseburger pie, jalapeno poppers and fried chicken thighs. I’m looking forward to keeping the food as interesting as the great beverage program Teddy and Alex (Bokulich) have lined up.”