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The restaurant opened three months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo:usarestaurants.info
The restaurant opened three months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo:usarestaurants.info

What’s better for winter than southern comfort food with a Philly twist? Try Flannel in East Passyunk

Owner Marc Grika says delivery still isn’t cutting it amid COVID-19.

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Marc Grika has worked in cities around the country, but came back to his native Philly to grow some roots.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business forever, I started in the business pretty young,” Grika said.

In fact, Grika ran almost all of Jose Garces’ restaurants and several of Stephen Starr’s eateries. 

“I came back to Philly looking for a really small place, something that I can have a smoker and a counter,” he said.

The two contending locations that Grika wanted to set up shop in were the two main restaurant hubs of the city: Fishtown and East Passyunk.

“As I was thinking about where to set up, I was walking down Passyunk Ave. and ran into a cafe called ‘Chhaya Cafe,’ and when I went inside, I saw Flannel Restaurant, and here we are,” he said.

Grika wanted to do something that hasn’t really been done before and focused on southern dishes that most Philly locals had never heard of.

“I have many close friends in the South and I fell in love with southern food that I tried,” he said. “I knew this was the right fit for us,” he explained.

Grika made sure that his eatery hit the name by adding exposed wood and plaid furniture to give it even more country flare.

 

“I knew exactly what I wanted to change and how I wanted to make it,” he said.

With that, Flannel opened its doors in 2019.

Quickly, lines formed out the door and stellar reviews were written by the page. Grika and his staff were more than pleased with the business that they were getting.

But no one knew what was lurking around the corner.

Three months after his new restaurant opened was when COVID-19 came to town.

“It’s hard for me to complain because everybody is in pain,” said Grika.

Flannel shut down for a few weeks trying to figure out what their next steps would be.

“We set up a deck outside once the city permitted it, we also have heaters, it was working out well when the weather was nice because we had a lot of seats outside, but it’s getting colder,” said Grika.

The city also allowed indoor dining up to 25% capacity in mid-January.

Given the fact that it isn’t much, Grika resorted to delivery services to feed people who aren’t comfortable eating out yet.

“There’s not much profit yet with delivery,” he said.

Restaurants like Grika’s make all of their profits on the weekends, and with only 25% indoor capacity, they barely make a profit.

Another concern for Grika outside his profit margins was his serving staff, and how they were coping with the pandemic.

So far, he’s been able to support them.

“I have also been paying my waitstaff 12 dollars an hour, aside from their tips,” he said. “They really need it.”

If you’re in the neighborhood and looking for something different, try out their Flannel Benny made with crispy pork roll, pimento cheese, two poached eggs, and hollandaise on fluffy cornbread. 

 

Or be adventurous and try their Nashville hot chicken that will transport you to Tennessee.

 

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