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New Restaurant District 611 Set to Open in Riverton

Third time will hopefully be the charm for Riverton building owner Jim Brandenburger, as he joins with Stephen Starr alums.

Last week, a throng of workers were nailing wooden beams, hanging tiles and installing lights, all to make way for Riverton’s newest restaurant, District 611, slated to open Nov. 10.

This will be the third restaurant to prevail in the corner storefront within the brick-faced mall behind Beneficial Savings Bank on Broad Street. Tara’s Cafe and Frankie’s Home Cooking, the two prior eateries, both seemed to open with some spark, but couldn’t keep the fires burning.

But this time, it looks like the new owners might have a recipe for success, as three experienced foodies and one local builder have come together in a kind of serendipity.

One night last July, building owner and developer Jim Brandenburger, 46, went to restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Continental restaurant in Old City with friends. Brandenburger, who built and has owned the strip mall since 2007, was getting itchy for a new tenant after Frankie’s Home Cooking had shuttered.

When talk drifted to Brandenburger’s vacancy, someone offered a suggestion: Did you talk to Brian?

Brian Baglin, 47, had been working for the Starr corporation for six years, after starting his restaurant career at the age of 15 in his hometown of Washington, D.C. A place of his own was indeed appealing. And a spot already equipped and furnished as a restaurant piqued Baglin’s interests more. But a real chord struck him a couple of days later.

“When Jim drove me around Riverton, I just fell in love with the town, and I told him I would really like to do something here,” recalls Baglin, who lives in Northern Liberties. “I then discussed the opportunity with Cathy.”

Baglin’s co-worker Catherine Piotrowski, 33, had also been a longtime Starr employee, beginning as a server and rising through the ranks into management during her eight years with the company. 

“It was just the right timing, and everything fell into place,” adds Piotrowski, who shortly thereafter opted to join forces with Brandenburger and Baglin. 

And recently, David Perini, 35, the third Starr alum, became the executive chef and fourth partner of District 611—the name, a nod to both Riverton and Center City's Broad Streets. Not to mention, Philly's Broad Street turns into Route 611 beyond the city limits. 

With three employees leaving his restaurant enterprise at almost the same time, what did Starr think?

“He was very supportive, and he told us that he was proud of us,” says Piotrowski. “He even helped us with the name.”

Although District 611 will be serving pizza—Neapolitan-style pizza that is, which will be fired in a brick oven—a mix of signature dishes by Chef Perini like steak frites, spring rolls and breakfast potato skins (part of the weekend brunch menu) will be on the eclectic menu. Salads and sandwiches will be available, too.

Perini says they plan to carve out a separate niche from other restaurants locally, and they will be looking to area farms, like Hunter’s Farm, for local ingredients. 

“We are aiming for a sit-down place with good food and fair prices,” says Perini of the 120-seat space.

No doubt, the draw will be the food given the culinary experiences of three of the restaurant’s partners, but the appeal of this establishment might also begin with the more than $1 million that’s been invested toward a loving and unique transformation, which includes doubling District 611’s size from that of its two predecessors.

“Wherever we could, we’ve used recycled and salvaged pieces,” says Brandenburger.

Gnarled wood planks were salvaged from an old chicken coop, and the distressed wooden doors that separate the rustic party and dough rooms came from a barn in Berks County, Pa. 

Comfy banquettes with reclaimed table tops will sit beneath the living wall, a tricked-out assemblage of planted herbs. More seating will be in black booths, all atop a concrete floor. 

An aerial map of Center City Philadelphia designed in white and grey tiles that showcases popular landmarks like City Hall, the Kimmel Center, the Reading Terminal, and Rittenhouse Square is showcased in the center of the main room. 

The quartet are hoping their new dining establishment will lend an atmosphere of friendliness, with a touch of intimacy.

“Getting ready has been really exciting,” says Brandenburger. “We’re looking forward to being a mainstay in the community.”

For more information about the restaurant visit www.district611.com or to apply for a job call 856-829-1552. 

leb October 22, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Sounds awesome! I hope they'll have a gluten free menu like Stephen Starr's restaurants do!
Ross Chatham October 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Is it possible to get food with additional gluten added? Gluten is pretty delicious honestly.
John October 22, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Oh boy, I wonder who did the market analysis of this business, 2 others tried it there and could not make it....I enjoyed Tara's, but did not try the other one.....Traffic flow is the key to success and having a bank in front of the store is not sound I think but I did not do the study, but good luck ok....
Alison Perry October 22, 2012 at 07:23 PM
The first two restaurants at that location seemed to have inexperienced ownership/management. The new folks are more experienced and should be able to turn out a good product (restaurant and food). Can't wait to try it out! Good luck!
John October 22, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Experience does not make a product good, traffic and people will make or break this business....Having a bank in front of the store is a big turn off.....parking is not the greatest either but we shall see good luck and the best....
Michelle October 22, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Madison pub has pretty much the same traffic flow. They are very successful. I think good advertising, good food, and great prices will play a major roll. Tara's had great food and prices. I think it needed better advertising and open more hours. I don't think the second place did much advertising at all and did not look very appealing to draw people in. The group that are opening this place I think will be very helpful in making it a success. Good luck! We are looking forward to trying it out! Will it be BYOB?
Sue in Cinna October 22, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Best of luck to the new owners. This place sounds unique - and that's what we need around here. Another unique eating establishment!
Good guy 83 October 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Why does everything in this area have to do with pizza? Is there that big of a Italian community here or do they believe our palates are that terrible. We need a restaurant that doesn't serve Italian its already been done a couple times within 2-3 miles of each other.
Good guy 83 October 22, 2012 at 11:00 PM
With him coming from no libs in Philly with their diverse new restaurants and the Steven Starr experience, hopefully he will spread his wings here and try new and interesting things with the fresh ingredients available nearby
Catherine Laughlin October 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Michelle, The new restaurant will be BYOB.
jennifer winkelspecht October 23, 2012 at 12:49 AM
sounds like a great plan. best of luck. love that you are using local products, especially from hunter's farm
Mark October 23, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I hope it works out for them. Tara's did not close because of being bad, she chose to close it do to health reasons and made the decision that spending time with her family was more important then having her restaurant. Frankies Homestyle Cooking failed because the prices were FAR from homestyle! My one and only time in there when it was Frankies was for breakfast. Four of us and the bill was about 46 dollars as I remember. We were talking eggs, homefries, and s breakfast meat here! Good luck to the new owners, I hope you are succesfull in your new journey.
LMD October 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM
They're opening a restaurant in Historic Riverton and the decor is Center City???
Patch Proofreader October 23, 2012 at 01:05 PM
You mean chicken COOP, not coup.
John October 23, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Oh boy got around the license thing......thats great
Christina Paciolla (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM
John, there is no "license thing." They do not have a liquor license.
Mike October 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Is John serious ?
John October 25, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Oh boy, I guess the grandfathering of liquor stuff goes bye the wayside, if bennigans wants to move to cinnaminson let them be a BYOB place thats what I was referring to thanks for telling me off people...you reported that they need a license and cannot get one....ok sorry for people jumping on me for a comment
Phil October 25, 2012 at 06:54 PM
John, one, this is in Riverton, not Cinnaminson, so Cinnainson's plight on liquor licenses has nothing to do with the availability of any in Riverton (which there probably aren't any). Secondly, to be a BYOB does not require any kind of liquor license at all and with the size of Riverton, they probably only have 1 license which is already accounted for.
Debbie October 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Just try it, it will be great. I can't wait to go. BYOB's are the best!
John October 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@phil relax ok, really sorry I said anything about booze.....have a good day
nurse November 23, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Ew...chicken coop germs right there in the wood on the wall and barn germs on and in the wood doors in a restaurant....??? Sounds disgusting,,,ewwww
nurse November 23, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Nj people don't "get" philly at all...they are stuck in 1980 and dont even go across the bridge...or go out after 6 pm. Good luck!!...
FbS November 23, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Oh we get it..NJ people wanna to be as far from Philly as possible .. Thats why we are here. :). We could not wait to leave Philly.
dpeters November 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM
You're so right Frank. We all wish those Philly people had stayed in Philly. Just because they move here, they still have no idea of what it mean to be a New Jerseyan. Thank you for telling it like it is about those Philly natives....
FbS November 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM
We are trying 611 tonight. Ill report back :)
Kevin O'Connor November 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
It is outstanding. It looks great. We had pizza, scallops and a salad and liked them all. Service was perfect. We will certainly go back.
FbS November 24, 2012 at 11:41 PM
You were right Kevin. We had the warm ricotta on flatbread for appetizer, branden-burger and pizza margherita and everything was very good! We will be back... They did a fine job with the decor too.
Buzz Flood December 04, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Just a minor correction, not related to the restaurant. Philadelphia's Broad Street does not "turn into Route 611 beyond the city limits". Broad St is Route 611, from just outside the gates of the old Navy Yard, all the way through Philadelphia. The highway is just labeled Broad St within the city.
MARIA December 10, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Went to D611 on Saturday night awesome food. I am going again tonight. I am so excited we are getting great restaurants in our little neighbor... Merry Christmas!!!!!

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