LINWOOD — The Exchange at 2110 New Road will see some changes in the upcoming months, but owner Gerald Bird said change is a good thing and what is on the menu will be tasty and fun.
It was July 2017 when Bird and city officials cut the ribbon on the eatery that brought a new concept to town with five separate restaurants and a bar under one roof. Ernest and Son, Lil’ Saigon, Tony’s Baltimore Grill, Banzo, Jar’d and the District Bar made their home at The Exchange. But later this month, Banzo and the District Bar will close.
Bird said the site currently operating as Banzo will feature a Mexican restaurant, Taco Cat, that will serve authentic Mexican fare. They are shooting to open in late November. Bird said they will need to do add a hood and oven to the existing kitchen and prep area. The Ex Bar is scheduled to open the weekend of Oct. 6. There will be few changes to the bar but big changes to the bar menu.
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Bird said the Ex Bar will feature standard bar fare like buffalo wings, but patrons will also be able to order from any of the other eateries in The Exchange.
“Each table will feature a menu from each of the Exchange’s restaurants. We will have runners pick up a customer’s order while they are enjoying a drink in the bar and bring it back to enjoy it there,” said Bird. Also on tap will be familiar faces.
“We have number of local bartenders who will be joining us. There will be plenty of friendly faces behind the bar mixing up their favorite drinks for patrons. This is a friendly neighborhood bar where friends can come and enjoy a lot of great food and have a drink. It is all about fun, and we have a lot of surprises planned,” said the owner.
Bird is the owner of the liquor license and bar. Previously the bar was operated through the LAN Restaurant Group and the menu for the bar was prepared in the kitchen of Banzo. The District Bar and Banzo shared the kitchen space.
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Banzo, part of the LAN Restaurant Group operated by Nicole Jacoby and Lambros Psounos that also includes the Greens and Grains chain of restaurants, is not closing because it was not doing well —Jacoby said the restaurant had operated in the black since it opened.
“We are expanding and growing nationally and moving our operations to Philadelphia,” said Jacoby. “We are in a really good position.”
She said the Greens and Grains chain that includes locations in Northfield, Galloway Township and Margate has expanded and includes a franchise location in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, with plans in the works for Philadelphia. All of the Greens and Grains locations will remain open, she said.
“The demand is there. Our plan over the next five years is to take the brand nationally, so we needed to expand and we feel we are really following some exciting opportunities for us and for the brand,” said Jacoby. She said their eateries have brought about 50 full- and part-time jobs to the area. “No one is losing their job because we are closing the Banzo and District Bar locations. Each has been offered the chance to go to one of our other spots.”
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Although Jacoby said she could not give the exact location and date of the LAN Group’s new Center City location until all of the paperwork is completed, the hope is to open in the fall. She also said that unrelated to Greens and Grains, they will be opening a cocktail bar in late fall with a cool, hip concept.
“Philadelphia has an enormous vegan scene, and we will be part of that scene,” she said.