Haddonfield RunningCo owner Dave Welsh will convert the Napa Auto site into a multi-restaurant venue built around a full-service bar.
By Matt Skoufalos | February 22, 2019
Over the past few years, Dave Welsh has tried repeatedly to find a spot in his Haddon Township hometown that he could develop into the beer hall of his dreams.
On February 8, he bought the building where he hopes to make it happen.
“Haddon Township needs something different,” Welsh said.
“I think we need to mix it up.”
That’s why the Haddonfield RunningCo owner wants to convert the Napa Auto Parts building into Reunion Hall, a multi-restaurant dining hall centered around a full-service bar.
Welsh’s elevator pitch is “Reading Terminal meets Frankford Hall.” A wishlist of tenants would include a coffee shop, juice bar, and a mix of dining concepts yet to be determined.
“It could be somebody with a food truck needs a commissary,” Welsh said. “It could be somebody with a restaurant who needs a second location.”
The reunion theme is meant to inspire get-togethers among visitors from throughout South Jersey in a comfortable, anti-corporate environment.
“It’s bringing people together, and that’s the whole point of this,” Welsh said.
Just like The Mile, his Runnemede-based bar and grill, Welsh wants the bar at Reunion Hall to focus on regional craft beer.
“We’re thinking maybe 48, maybe more, taps,” he said.
“I’d like to give each local microbrewery its own little section.”
Plans are still in the conceptual phase, but Welsh wants the structure to incorporate a skylight roof with exposed beams and industrial lighting.
Retractable garage doors would allow access to an outside deck screened in by privacy hedges.
The 5,000-square-foot building also boasts a high-ceilinged lower level that could be used for kitchen equipment, a game room, or as a speakeasy. The space is big enough for live as well as broadcast entertainment.
Haddon Township architect Jay Reinert will oversee the design, which Welsh wants to follow in the style of urban beer gardens. He’d like to include an exterior mural and interior art that ties in details from the surrounding communities.
“You’re bringing elements of the city to South Jersey, which is what we tried to do with The Mile,” Welsh said.
Among those urban elements, Reunion Hall will offer bike racks and a clear line of sight to the Westmont PATCO Speedline station.
Welsh is expecting customers from the Haddon Towne Center across the street as well as out-of-towners from across the river.
“One of the first reactions from people in Philadelphia was, ‘Is this runnable from Philly?’” he said.
He plans to start demolition by mid-summer, with an anticipated opening in late 2019 or early 2020.
“It’s going to take some time, but I think this will be the most forward-thinking bar in South Jersey,” Welsh said.
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