Step inside the newly re-opened Dolphin Tavern on Broad and Tasker streets, and darkness envelopes you as the door swings shut behind you.
After the first couple blinks, the place gives way to a strangely similar, yet somehow fresh-looking decor with the long bar surrounded by stools, wood paneling, and portraits of vintage burlesque dancers lining the walls.
It’s mostly the same stuff in there – it still looks a lot like when we peeked inside in December – but beyond the bar stands a flashing dance floor and DJ booth, a couple tables and a booth or two along the far wall. Gone is the pool table that previously occupied the dance floor area. Still intact, however, are the pedestals encased in the center of the bar, on which go-go dancers will groove as they have for decades.
The Dolphin has definitely received an upgrade as far as publicity is concerned, much more so than the décor. Backed by Avram Hornik of Four Corners and contributing heavy hitters including Dave P. of Making Time, Sean Agnew of R5 and Psydde Delicious, the new Dolphin seems poised to do big business.
Last night, the place started filling up by 6:15 p.m. (including old manager Lynn and her family). Happy hour doesn’t even start til 7! The HH will include $1 PBR, $3 well drinks, and $3 Tully shots. The draft list only includes 4 beers, but there is a decent selection of canned beers as well as a small cocktail menu.
No food will be served at The Dolphin, but there will still be dancers, every Wednesday through Saturday night, according to bartender Matt Summers (formerly of P.O.P.E. fame). He kindly requested you bring a pizza if you stop in for a visit. DJ’s will be booked every night, the details of which are still being worked out. Just after 5 p.m., there was no DJ, but a record player sat at the corner end of the bar, spinning great tunes to the crowd (reminiscent of the record station set up by the server station at Morgan’s Pier’s main bar, also owned by Four Corners).
It seems like The Dolphin is set up in all aspects to bring in the 20-something hipster crowd, who will gladly drink alongside the inevitable random old-heads of South Philly who will wander in, drawn by the cheap drinks and a couple pretty girls. Those guys might not stop by on Friday and Saturday nights, though. There will be a cover, $5, according to the calendar on their new website.
– Kira Wolfson, @kirapocket