Jan 10, 2024 - Culture

A eulogy to the Abbaye, my neighborhood bar

The outside of The Abbaye in Northern Liberties.

The Abbaye in Northern Liberties. Photo: Shane Savitsky/Axios

The Abbaye in Northern Liberties is closing on Saturday after 21 years.

  • When it does, I'll lose my neighborhood bar, sure, but something far greater than that, too.

Why it matters (to me, anyway): For all of our 1.6 million people, Philly remains a city of neighborhoods. Blocks, really. For my wife and I, The Abbaye was the place where we felt like we became a part of our neighborhood.

  • We moved in the very weird year of 2020, and dinners on the sidewalk of Fairmount Ave. — yes, even in the depths of December — became our respite from the monotony.
  • In the years since, we've gotten to know most everyone who works there. I've eaten more of their incredible chicken tenders than I can count. We've roped all of our visiting friends into Sunday night karaoke.
  • Hell, we had our wedding rehearsal dinner there last year. Talk about commitment.

What they're saying: "This is the worst thing that's happened to our street since the trees got cut down," one of my neighbors wrote in our block's group chat.

  • To me, there's nothing more Philadelphian than marking the passage of time via the demise of beloved bars and street trees.

Between the lines: Maybe this says something about "the old Philadelphia" slipping further out of reach, maybe it doesn't. Maybe this says something about Northern Liberties edging closer toward a corporate shell of its former self, maybe it doesn't.

  • All I know is that I'm going to miss a place that's become important to me and a whole lot of others.
  • A place where I could be decently sure somebody knew my name, which is hard to come by in this day and age.

The bottom line: Even if you've never physically been to The Abbaye, I know you've stopped in a time or two. Because you have your very own Abbaye in your corner of this fair city, the place you love the most.

  • Hold onto it tight. You never know when it might be gone.
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