Along a rough timeline, the second location for Chef Dominic Piperno and GM Lindsay Piperno could open its doors in Haddon Township within a year-and-a-half.
By Matt Skoufalos | November 13, 2020
The couple behind the award-winning restaurant Hearthside has begun developing a new cocktail bar and lounge in Haddon Township.
Dominic and Lindsay Piperno, who turned heads with the contemporary design and acclaimed dishes of their New American restaurant in Collingswood, are looking to create the same magic a little farther up the road, at 105-107 Haddon Avenue.
The voluminous location, which formerly housed batting cages and a mixed martial arts gym, has also been a furniture warehouse and environmental laboratory service.
For the Pipernos, who acquired a Haddon Township liquor license a couple years ago, its sizable storefront will make the perfect location for their high-end bar concept.
“We’ve always zoomed in on that large location,” Dominic Piperno said. “We wanted to be on Haddon Avenue.”
Negotiations on the property had heated and cooled for more than a year, Piperno said, but neither side could finalize the terms of a deal until recently. With the purchase concluded, plans have turned to designing for the 0.3-acre lot, and making the best use of the 14,000 square-foot structure situated upon it.
For a start, some portion of the existing building likely will be demolished to make room for an outdoor service area, the value of which has only grown more significant to the hospitality industry as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wears on.
“I think the space lends itself to endless opportunities,” Lindsay Piperno said. “Since it is so large, we’re really looking to have a garden area.”
The interior of the new location, which the couple is designing with Philadelphia-based Ambit Architecture, will be “very lounge-y, with open spaces,” and no formal dining room, Dominic Piperno said.
“I think we understand that that style of dining, just packing places in, is over,” he said.
“We want it to be [a place where you can] meet up with a couple friends; grab a circle couch, grab a couple cocktails.”
“Hearthside is our ‘rustic and romantic’ feel; I’d like the bar to be more swanky, a little more modern,” Lindsay Piperno said, citing Philadelphia fine dining establishments like Talula’s Garden and Suraya as style cues.
“I don’t want people to walk in there and think, ‘this looks like a larger Hearthside,’” she said
The size of the space will afford opportunities to capitalize on business the couple couldn’t previously facilitate at Hearthside, including the baby and bridal showers, weddings, and birthday parties they’ve had to turn down for want of capacity.
The bigger footprint of the Haddon Township storefront also will open up new opportunities in the kitchen. With large windows, 20-feet-high ceilings, and a generous amount of floor space, Dominic Piperno can house production of bread and pasta for both restaurants there. (“We’re calling it the pasta lab,” he said.)
He imagines a dry storage room in which to create a salumeria for house-cured meats, as well as an all-glass kitchen enclosure that delivers an open concept without compromising on public health demands. The extra square-footage could support a full-time pastry chef, which also means more dessert options for both restaurants.
“The space there lends us to not only advance Hearthside as a restaurant, but endless opportunities for us to come up with cool concepts for Haddon Township as well,” Dominic Piperno said.
Similar to Hearthside, the new location also will feature a wood-fired oven for a menu that Lindsay Piperno describes as “elevated bar food.
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“If you want to meet up with a group of friends and just get a bunch of appetizers, people enjoy doing that, and this would be that spot,” she said.
Whereas Hearthside is built around wood-fired cooking, the new location will showcase chef Dominic Piperno’s approach to tapas dishes, with crudo, roasted vegetable salads, charcuterie, flatbreads, toasts, and some hand-crafted pastas among his early notions.
“Small plates lends to seasonal cooking,” he said. “I’m super excited. There could be something as small as a fried Brussels sprout salad, but then larger stuff like grilled octopus and seared scallops.”
Of course, the principal strategic advantage of the new Haddon Township location is its built-in license to serve alcohol, and the couple is excited to create a bar program that pays as much attention to beverage details as their kitchen does to food.
It will offer something for everyone: from-scratch cocktails, a sophisticated wine list, and high-quality craft beers, plus tasty, alcohol-free beverages for those who want to socialize without spirits.
“It’s not easy to get those kind of classic, well-made cocktails,” Lindsay Piperno said. “It’s really important to me to also have a non-alcoholic drink list. Maybe you’re pregnant, maybe you’re recovering; maybe you just don’t like the taste of alcohol. You should still be able to go out and have a delicious drink.”
In keeping with the pandemic-sensitive design of the space, the Pipernos promise that their new location will be one of the only bars in town where guests won’t be crowded while enjoying their drinks.
“There will be a waitlist for bar spots just like a waitlist for tables,” Lindsay Piperno said.
“We’re not going to pack people in.”
Above all, the couple is excited to create a full-service bar and restaurant within a mile of its established location in Collingswood, leveraging the resources of each kitchen to improve the experience at both.
“We love that small-town vibe that we have here [in Collingswood], and I think it’s the same right down the road,” Lindsay Piperno said.
“Haddon Township plays to what we’re trying to do on Haddon Avenue,” Dominic Piperno said: “the walking crowd at night, the events on the avenue, the clientele. I couldn’t picture doing what we’re trying to do on Route 70.”
According to their rough timeline, the new location could open by Spring 2022 at the earliest. The estimated 16-month project will involve significant planning and labor, “but we’re going to take our time with it and make sure that we do it completely right,” Dominic Piperno said.
“I think when people walk in here, they feel the hospitality, and they understand that it’s more than just food, it’s an experience dining at Hearthside,” he said.
“We’re going to take that same exact approach to food and service and hospitality and implement it over there with a full-service cocktail and wine program.”
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