Fans of the defunct District 611’s take on New American cuisine, take heart: a rebranded version of the restaurant is expected to open within weeks.
District 611 partner Jim Brandenburger, who owns the strip in which the restaurant is located, connected with longtime neighbor Ken Merriman shortly after the eatery closed some four months ago.
A native Irishman, Merriman has roughly 40 years in the hospitality industry—a legacy that stretches back to his grandfather, father and uncle—and made a name for himself establishing Fado and Tir Na Nog, two popular Irish pubs in Center City. According to Merriman, he and Brandenburger “kind of just ran into each other,” and what was originally just a friendship, developed into a business relationship.
“The timing was just right,” explained Brandenburger’s wife, and another partner in the restaurant, Janet.
The new restaurant—renamed simply “District”—will keep many of the elements customers loved about District 611, including the very popular wood-fired pizzas (a second oven was added), the signature burger and the the same general ambiance.
“There is a market for this type of restaurant here … District 611 answered a need that was in this area,” said Merriman, who has lived in Riverton for 22 years. “It was just the execution of what they were trying to do where they ran into difficulties.”
Janet acknowledged that 611 may have struggled somewhat because the creators of the restaurant—all Stephen Starr alumni—didn’t have any institutional knowledge about the community and were used to marketing to a different demographic.
Having someone like Merriman on board, who knows Riverton and its ways well, “plays a big role in the future success of the business. Knowing the people and the market we’re in is invaluable.”
Executive chef Dan Maher, a longtime colleague of Merriman’s who helped him open Fado and Tir Na Nog, also joins the group as a co-owner. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Maher honed his skills in the kitchens of restaurants including Le Bec Fin and the Waldorf Astoria.
Janet said following the closing of District 611, the partners convened a focus group of about 30 people from the area for help refining the restaurant concept and found they wanted “more variety, more offerings on the menu.”
To that end, Merriman said the menu will be expanded to be more “customer friendly,” with the focus still on “good, straightforward food, as fresh as we can get it.”
And of course, what’s good food without good conversation to accompany it? Janet said sound distortion panels have been installed to make dinner conversation easier for patrons—i.e. you won’t have to yell across the table to make yourself heard.
Last but certainly not least, District 611 gift cards will be honored at the new restaurant.
Merriman said he expects to open within the next week or two. Check Cinnaminson Patch for updates on an exact opening date.At the start, the restaurant—located at 710 Broad St.—will only be open for dinner, though Merriman plans to expand that to include brunch and lunch in the near future.