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April 12, 2010 - Grey Lodge Pub founder buys the Blue Ox Bistro
Mike "Scoats" Scotese, the guy who turned a blue collar neighborhood tappie into a craft beer destination that was cited by Esquire Magazine as one of the 50 best bars in the United States a few years back, is expanding his craft beer presence in Philadelphia's Northeast section.

The popular owner of the Grey Lodge Pub on Frankford Avenue has purchased the Blue Ox Bistro at 7980 Oxford Avenue in the Fox Chase section. Papers sealing the deal were signed this afternoon and he will reopen the site as the Hop Angel Brauhaus late this summer.

The purchase was for the business only; the building is owned by Tekla Grund, who, with her late husband Walter, ran the Blue Ox Brauhaus there for decades, and dates back to 1683, making it one year younger than the city itself. The location was noted for German beer and food for over a century. Phil Magee and a partner acquired the business in 2006, renaming and Americanizing it and keeping just a smattering of German items on the menu. That effort struggled from the start and the doors closed roughly two months ago.

"We've been looking at this since last November and originally considering buying into Phil's business but that didn't work out," Scoats told The Beer Yard late Sunday night. "We will be respecting the heritage of the location with a German menu and a beer list which is heavy on German style beers, whether from Germany itself or the U.S. I'm very comfortable with that. We've done a series of 'Munich in Mayfair' events at the Grey Lodge and the German specialties on the menu for those have just flown out of the kitchen and the beer sales were excellent."

The new location has seating for 150 as opposed the 90 seats at the Grey Lodge. "Given the added space, I'm pretty sure we will be doing some beer and food events there eventually," Scoats promised.

The move takes inventive publican five miles deeper into the Greater Northeast, perhaps Philadelphia's last remaining craft beer wasteland. Changing that dynamic might be difficult ,but it's probably not wise to bet against the guy whose inspired beer-centric celebrations such as Friday the Firkinteenth and the annual Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast/Lucky Cat Day Beer Prognostication have become actual holidays for local beer aficionados.--JACK CURTIN