You could say that Vince DesRosiers is counterintuitive. Vince and his best friends, brothers Chris and Eric Endrikat, opened the New Ridge Brewing Company on June 26, 2020.
Almost anyone would agree with the notion that the pandemic was a terrible time to be opening a business, especially a restaurant/bar, because of the myriad restrictions that were in place, the isolation, quarantines, sicknesses, people staying home, etc.
But I guess you could say that Vince DesRosiers is counterintuitive. Vince, 39, and his best friends, brothers Chris, 30, and Eric Endrikat, 32, who combined have more than two decades of beer brewing experience, opened the New Ridge Brewing Company at 6168 Ridge Ave. (between Krams and Leverington) in the middle of the Roxborough business district on June 26, 2020.
“If we had opened much later than that, I honestly don't believe we could have made it,” said Vince last week, shortly after New Ridge opened for the first time for full in-person service. “One year ago was not a great time, but there were not many other (food and drink) options, so people in the community took out our product, gave us a chance and really liked it. And they have been supporting us ever since, and now people from other communities who heard about us from word-of-mouth are starting to come in.” (I got there at 3 p.m. on a Friday, and by the time I left at 4:30 there was a surprisingly large crowd both at the bar and at the tables.)
Chris and Vince met seven years ago, when Vince was head brewer at the Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in North Wales and Chris was a server. (Vince's wife, Joanna, was a bartender and bar manager at Iron Hill in Chestnut Hill and was with the company for 14 years, having left recently.)
The Endrikat brothers grew up in Roxborough. Their father, Fred, spent more than three decades as a Philadelphia firefighter and now works in the Search & Rescue division of FEMA. Fred is the one who insisted that a brewpub would be a great addition to the neighborhood. “Fred is the engine that makes us run,” said Vince. “He is one of the best human beings I have ever met. He was once named 'Firefighter of the Year,' and he's a legend in the firefighter community.”
The building that houses the new brewpub was formerly a carpet store, although it was vacant for several years. It was purchased by the Roxborough Development Corporation, which created a public park in 2018 next to the building, in a former vacant lot that they allow New Ridge Brewing to use. New Ridge can seat about 70 inside, which includes 14 at the bar, 35 more in the pocket park and 35 more in eye-OK private outdoor cubicles. There is a mural that expands along the outside wall and an addition to the rear of the building that houses gigantic brewing and storage vats.
The beers are all made in-house and are all available on draft and takeout in four-packs or 32-ounce cans. There is lots of attractive acid-washed brick on one wall of the restaurant, wood floors and tables and lots of glass on the other side. A mural on the opposite-facing building across the park is mirrored on the brewpub windows.
Chef Nate Moyer, who previously worked in Memphis, is turning out some pretty tasty vittles. The vegan burger is awesome, as are the shoestring fries, maitake mushroom sandwich and green meadow burrata salad. I have not tasted the beers yet but definitely plan to.
Whenever I write about a restaurant, I check customer reviews on yelp.com, and I just discovered that New Ridge Brewing Company is one of the best-reviewed restaurants I have ever seen. As of June 20, when I checked, 34 of the 37 reviews were five stars, the highest rating, and the other three reviews were four stars. The most recent review, by Ryan V. on June 2, is typical of the others:
“Another great brewery in the Manayunk/Roxborough area! New Ridge Brewing is a serious spot to grab great beer with food to match. I am a big fan of the Keller Pils and Maibock these folks are brewing up, but honestly I have not had an off beer yet, even the Rojo Nuevo imperial farmers ale is too easy to drink! ... Honestly, it is crazy how good the food is, and they just happen to make killer beer, too. And the atmosphere is great.”
According to Vince, “We did not come here to hit singles. We came here to hit home runs.”
For more information: newridgebrew.com or 215-330-4677. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org