This page was last updated on 2 April 2010.
Russell Resumed Playing at the Raven on Thursdays and Saturdays on 21 May 2009.
By: Freda R. Savana
Response to the reopening of The Raven, a popular New Hope nightspot, has been "absolutely amazing," said Scott DeWitt, the restaurant's new owner - and a former employee.
Closed for a year after one of the former owners became ill, DeWitt said last week's opening of the bar and pool area reunited much of the old staff with longtime customers who missed the West Bridge Street club.
Reactions like, "Oh my God," and "We're home," came from patrons happy to see The Raven with yet another new life, said DeWitt, who worked for the business off and on for 14 years. First opened in 1979, the business has been a staple in the gay and lesbian community for decades.
The 100-seat restaurant will open over time, as DeWitt and his employees "make it right." He said the restaurant will stay largely as it was but will include more medium-priced meals. "We want to make it more of an everyday place than a special occasion one."
The seven guest rooms are reopened.
DeWitt, along with his partner, Ryan Cortez, took over the well-known establishment under a lease-purchase agreement with the previous owner, Terrence Meck. Meck's partner, Rand Skolnich, died last year, forcing the business to be sold or leased.
"Terrence made it possible for me. We worked really well together," DeWitt explained.
Meck still owns The Nevermore, a nightclub/ hotel near The Raven.
Preserving the familiar atmosphere of the bar, especially the beloved piano bar, is important, said the new owner.
"We've always had an older group and we want to make sure that's preserved," said DeWitt. "We don't want to venture too far."
Andreas Kaluli, manager at The Raven, said working at the business again is "like being back home. Everyone is like a family here." The owners credit the devoted staff with the businesses' renewed success.
Support is already coming in from other New Hope business owners who are pleased to see a bright spot in a gloomy economy.
"I'm happy, thrilled, overwhelmed that a member of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) community is open again," said Dan Brooks, who owns the Wishing Well bed and breakfast inn behind The Raven.
"It's already bringing gay tourism back to New Hope," he said. "It's a note of optimism in a very ailing economy."
Meck and Skolnich, who came to the area from New York, bought the club in 2004. They made significant renovations to the property, including improvements to the pool area, the guesthouse and the restaurant.
Freda R. Savana can be reached at 215-345-3061 or fsavana@phillyBurbs.com.
May 28, 2009 02:20 AM
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