What is Going on in Wayne?

July 30th, 2009

In many ways, Wayne has become the flagship Main Line town. It has perhaps the most defined “town center”, with walkable streets, ample parking, and an eclectic mix of businesses. When one thinks of great areas to go out to eat on the Main Line, Wayne surely jumps to the top of anyone’s list. Recently, however, as we watch one more independent restaurant close and await yet another lackluster addition to N. Wayne Ave., the dining scene seems to be in the midst of a moderate crisis.

In recent (using the term loosely) years, Wayne has lost independent restaurants Taquet, Mayuree Café, Vivo Enoteca, The Freehouse, Mims Food & Drink, The Freehouse, The Wooden Iron and the Wayne Beef & Ale. Although their quality certainly varied, each of these places offered unique dining experiences. In their place, Wayne has gained three local chains — The Great American Pub, The Boathouse and now JD McGillicuddy’s — that serve generic bar food and emphasize drinking watered-down beer over eating. What does this say about Wayne? Do restaurant patrons not care about quality food? Is the town moving back towards the days of Smokey Joe’s? Is this just a sign of the economic times — fewer people going out to eat, and those that do spending less?

All is not lost, of course. Margaret Kuo’s remains strong. Teresa’s Café has been the most popular place in town for many years, and with the excellent addition of Teresa’s Next Door, one might argue that it is now more popular than ever, especially with the lack of other choices. And, the sign for the soon-to-be White Dog Café — though no longer proudly independent under Judy Wicks — tantalizes passers by on Rt 30.

At the end of the day, restaurants that execute well and give people what they want will survive, obviously, in Wayne and everywhere else. As for us, we’re foodies, and we want to see more foodie restaurants come to the area, so we will continue to patronize places that offer that, and won’t patronize places that don’t. If you agree, we suggest you do the same — otherwise the Wayne outpost of Kildare’s won’t be far behind.

Agree? Disagree? You should comment below.

19 Responses to “What is Going on in Wayne?”

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  1. MLB says:

    It’s obvious that the Wayne restaurant scene is in a state of flux. I agree with several of the reasons cites by Main Line Dine and the respondent bloggers. However, I would like to know how Main Line Dine concludes that “parking is ample.” You must be talking about Wayne, NJ, not Wayne, PA! No question that parking, or lack of it, has had a huge impact on the restaurant scene in Wayne, PA. It certainly would seem important for any aspiring restauranteur to know that prospective customers could park their wheels nearby when they make an evening dining reservation. Lastly, something is spooking the White Dog’s arrival. It has been tethered on its leash for almost a year, and it doesn’t appear that it will be running free any time soon. MLB

    • MLD says:

      I’ve never had a problem parking in Wayne. There are quite a few on-street spots on 30 just east of Wayne Ave,, all those spots on N. Wayne Ave, plus decent-size lots by the train station and Anthropologie. In addition, there are plenty of places to park in nearby neighborhoods. If you’re used to finding a parking garage, or think a 3-5 minute walk is a major inconvenience, I suppose you might feel otherwise. The only town along the Main Line that may be better parking-wise would be Ardmore, and that’s only because they have a shopping mall.

  2. Greg says:

    Much as I love Teresa’s and eat there frequently, we got home the other night and I said let’s not cook just hiop down to Teresa’s for salad and share a plate of something or go to the pub side and have some mussels and frites. My wife said, “I have a slight headache and the noise is so bad there that one can hardly hear as it is and I just can’t face it tonight.”
    We are eagerly waiting for White Dog, miss the fine but often erratic Wooden Iron, Mims/Freehouse was always an adventure with the wild boar actually okay not Le Macarssin off the Grand Place of Brussels but okay and while Taguet needed three tries to get sweetbreads done enough to eat but they were worth waiting for.
    Maybe we can get the White Dog and Boathouse to switch locations so the suds crowd will be less preponderant on North Wayne Ave.

  3. Wayneunk says:

    It’s the pubification of the Main Line. And it sucks. Wonder if JD McGillicuddy’s will bring their Ardmore problems on the County Line west?

    • Concern Citizen says:

      I share everyone’s concerns about the “pubification” of Wayne. It’s a shame that you can’t go out in Wayne for a good quality meal without having to go to Teresa’s.
      Another concern I have is the lack of “IDing” that I observe going on in the bars of Wayne. I am assuming that the good people of Wayne don’t want the Nova students getting wind of this because then Wayne will become Manayunk. So, I’m asking the restaurant owners that read this website to at least make your bartenders do their job and ask for ID.

      • thedogatemyhomework says:

        I’ve never noticed bars, bartenders or restaurants fail to i.d. students. If anything, they go overboard because the Radnor cops are like the S.S. The police don’t cut college kids any slack, even if they are on foot.

  4. Jim in Paoli says:

    When we go out to eat, once or twice a week, we are always at a loss when looking east for restaurants. Sola is delicious. That is the only restaurant we consider. Wayne has nothing to offer.
    We don’t drink beer so Teresa’s is out.
    Christopher’s is not appealing.
    Mims/Freehouse dining area is uninviting and the place changes names every 6 weeks so who knows what they are serving.
    The Boathouse? We are too old for a sports bar on Monday and Tuesday night dinner.
    We end up in West Chester at Kooma or High Street Caffe, or more locally at Alba or Margaret Kuo’s in Frazer at the sushi bar.
    So many restaurants, so few places to eat.

    • Wayne Diner says:

      I agree with Jim. There are so many restaurants in Wayne, but only one with decent food – Teresas. We brave the Schuylkill and fight for a parking spot to go to Cooper’s or Le Bus in Manayunk for a casual meal with good food. It’s sad that we have to leave Wayne to get a decent meal if we don’t want Teresas. I’m crossing my fingers that the White Dog Cafe will bring us good food.

  5. Ryan says:

    We’re psyched about White Dog coming, but agree that it would be MUCH better suited on Wayne Ave. I also like being able to take the train/walk. Since neither of us drink, the food is our main draw. Not sure how a steakhouse, or smoked bbq would do.

  6. Dave says:

    The Boathouse is terrible. There service is poor and their beer selection was good 5 years ago. They can’t compete with the likes of Teresa’s Next Door, TJ’s Everyday, and the Flying Pig.

    Their food is also underwhelming to say the least.

  7. aaron says:

    One reason I don’t go to a lot of the higher end restaurants in the area is they are relatively or completely vegetarian unfriendly.

    Would it kill these chefs to have at least one, perhaps two, vegetarian friendly entrees and appetizers on the menu?

  8. EC says:

    Part of the reason Wayne is being invaded by mini-chains is that retail rents in Wayne have become inflated. These chain operations are the only ones able to pay the high rents being charged. But I do not think they are succeeding in Wayne either.

    A look at what is thriving in Wayne may give some hints to the kind of restaurants that will succeed. Teresa’s next door offers good food and a great pub at a reasonable price. The Gryphon which serves good coffee and treats and has a “hip” atmosphere has become a hangout for the ladies-who-lunch and the younger crowd in Wayne. Christopher’s thrives on 30-somethings with kids in tow. so the food is secondary. Those that have failed here have generally served bad food and had poor service (Freehouse leaps to mind). Mim’s was flawed from the start because non-compete issues. Places like Vivo Enoteca and Taquet need diners on expense accounts in order to thrive, which are few and far between in Wayne. I don’t know how the Paddock in Devon still survives, but it sounds like a healthy bar crowd is one reason.

    To thrive in Wayne, restaurants will have to be not-so-high-end, yet a bit trendy. A restaurant like Sola would do well in Wayne, so would an Alba. Neither is overly pricey, yet good dining experiences. And both are suited to the small venues available in Wayne. A slightly more trendy Fellini Cafe-style Italian might do well. Or maybe something akin to Blackfish or Margot?

    But how to attract and foster small start-ups what with high rent is the key question in any future improvements.

    • MWR says:

      AGREED!!!! So true. Locally owned and run restaurants are what the Main Line needs more of, so far so good w/ the above mentioned, but others come and go too quickly. We still have to scratch our heads sometimes about “where to go” for a local quick, GOOD dinner!

  9. Steve says:

    “The Great American Pub, The Boathouse and now JD McGillicuddy’s — that serve generic bar food and emphasize drinking watered-down beer over eating”
    ——
    Apparently the author hasn’t visited Flanigan’s Boathouse before writing the blog entry. Their beer menu definitely doesn’t “emphasize drinking watered-down beer”. Do yourself the favor and stop in and actually look at their taps and bottled beer selection.

    • mld says:

      Can’t say I am all that impressed with the taps — slightly better than average I suppose, with a couple local micros and Chimay, but in this area that is to be expected. They do have some interesting bottles, but that doesn’t really change my feeling that the emphasis is on macro beers ($3 specials every day) and boring bar food.

    • EC says:

      Great American Pub, The Boathouse and JD McGillicuddy’s all serve the same style of food and relatively ubiquitous, if not generic, beer selections. Can Wayne really support three so similar restaurants? Time will tell, but I think not. White Dog will do well at first if pricing doesn’t get out of hand, but long-term, hmmmm?

      • thedogatemyhomework says:

        But, I can’t put the new White Dog in the same category as the other Wayne restaurants because of its location; totally alone in that new building on US 30. I think it’s going to be more of a destination spot than one you just stroll to. That’s the great part about Wayne: You leave your car in one place then walk from door to door, finding the restaurant that suits your mood that night. Since White Dog’ll be farther west and the majority of folks will just park in its private lot, it might as well be in Berwyn.

  10. thedogatemyhomework says:

    Here’s what I think: What seems to succeed in Wayne is moderately priced food that’s relatively unfussy, served in a casual atmosphere where kids aren’t discouraged, such as Christophers and Teresas (though Christophers may be a bit too welcoming for kids). Don’t keep changing the menu so people have to figure out how the place has reinvented itself. A super bar doesn’t hurt, nor does cool outdoor seating, like the Pub has.

    • EC says:

      For a higher-end restaurant to survive in a place like Wayne to survive long-term, the menu has to be up-dated; a lesson that Teresa’s Next Door has thankfully learned. Small restaurants with good seasonal menus would keep serious and casual diners coming. But re-invention is a killer for any restaurant.

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