We grew up loving pop-up books, and as teenagers, we always had to watch VH1’s Pop-Up Video. That means it’s only natural that as adults, we’ve taken a liking to the concept of pop-up beer gardens – and we aren’t the only ones. The fine people of Philadelphia have been enjoying a fantastic summer filled with pop-up beer gardens due to a loophole in Pennsylvania law that lets operators serve liquor with a $500 catering permit rather than a $90,000 liquor license.
Philly.com recently reported that six or so beer gardens have popped up this summer – something you’d think any sane person would love – but some lawmakers are not pleased. On one side, PA has four lawmakers that are demanding the State Liquor Control Board puts an “immediate stop to this practice.” On the other side, are wonderful, sensible lawmakers that think the pop-up beer gardens are rad and great for boosting business in areas that weren’t doing so great before. Solid decisions regarding the law are supposed to be made in the fall, but hopefully, things will go well and the pop-up beer gardens will be able to grow again next summer.
One of the most popular beer gardens actually got started four years ago at Philadelphia Horticultural Society. President of the PHS, Drew Becher, thought the empty spot at 20th and Market Street could use a little facelift and started making things pretty by planting trees. They didn’t have food or drinks until last year and although they had been pretty successful in the first couple of years, the addition of food and beverage brought in about 28,000 visitors from March through October of 2013 at 313 S. Broad Street. People loved it so much that when it closed for the colder months, they complained. In February, PHS decided to open the beer garden up for one snowy weekend using heated tents and serving cold beer; 3,000 people stopped by to “chill.” And this year? After only one month of being open, the PHS beer garden had already seen 22,000 people.
Why is the pop-up beer garden concept so successful? Because it isn’t just about drinking; it’s about relaxing, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the weather and surroundings. Of course, the beer isn’t such a bad deal either.