Table Talk: MaGerks will be daytime family friendly

Owner George Poulianas with bartender Melissa Brown in the Whitman, the new name for his expanded Whitman Diner in Washington Township.
Owner George Poulianas with bartender Melissa Brown in the Whitman, the new name for his expanded Whitman Diner in Washington Township.
Posted: March 05, 2009

The Bent Elbo Tavern, a fixture for decades at the corner of Skippack and Bethlehem Pikes in Fort Washington (it was the old Fortside Inn), will get new life as MaGerks Pub & Grill. New owners Paul and John Dolaway own MaGerkses in Baltimore and Bel-Air, Md.

John Dolaway says MaGerks in Fort Washington will be a family-friendly operation, though its bread and butter will be as a nightspot with live entertainment starting at 10:30 p.m. Dolaway introduced cheesesteaks at MaGerks, importing rolls from Conshohocken Bakery. "You wouldn't believe it, but when we started there, people would put lettuce and tomatoes and mayo on them," he says. "We got them to stop that." He intends to introduce unspecified Baltimore foods.

Renovation will include a dramatic removal of walls and bars, so the work may take six months, Dolaway says.

What'll it be?

Martinis and tapas (and bacon and eggs) at a Jersey diner? The Whitman Diner (4990 Route 42, Turnersville, 856-228-4449) recently became simply The Whitman after a renovation that complements the existing stainless-steel diner and adds a nighttime martini lounge with olive-shaped windows and plush banquettes. The lounge also serves a "moonlight breakfast" menu (omelettes, pancakes and such); see menus at The lounge was designed by Philly's DAS Architects, which also did the work at the new Union Trust steak house at 717 Chestnut St.

What's new

Cherry Hill Mall's "bistro row" now has a branch of Maggiano's Little Italy (2000 Route 38, Cherry Hill, 856-792-4470). Thomas Hubbard, who cooked at the Maggiano's across from Reading Terminal for seven years, is exec chef. Seasons 52, a seasonally themed grill/wine bar from Darden (Bahama Breeze, Capital Grille, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden), is looking at a March 23 grand opening nearby.

What was the Holiday Inn on Presidential Boulevard is now the Crown Plaza Main Line (4100 Presidential Blvd., 215-477-0200), and the restaurant is now Avenue Grill, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner under bright skylights. See menus at

Briefly noted

Avram Hornik, owner of Loie, Lucy's Hat Shop, Noche, Drinker's Pub, and Drinker's Tavern, is going into the old O'Hara's Fish House space at 39th and Chestnut Streets with a brick-oven pizzeria. He and partner Mark Fichera have Duo as the working name, and an August target for the opening.

After six months of renovations, Maria's Pizza & Pasta (214 W. Ridge Pike, Conshohocken, 610-941-2300) has reopened. "Little Maria's," as it's known, is owned by the same family that has Maria's Ristorante on Summit in Roxborough.

Ralph Berarducci insists that after 35 years, business is fine at Portofino (1227 Walnut St., 215-923-8208). While other restaurateurs seem to offering fixed-price specials to boost traffic, Berarducci says he's merely thanking customers with his $39 four-course fixed-price dinner (including a glass of wine or beer) Sundays through Thursdays.

The Charlie Brown's Steakhouse on Swedesford Road in Devon (Tredyffrin Township) has closed after a little more than five years, its manager confirms. Other locations, including Springfield (Delco) and Langhorne, remain.

Contact columnist Michael Klein

at 215-854-5514 or

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