Thank you to Penn National Gaming for their donation to help cover our next business… Bridgeport Rib House (Bridgeport, PA).
See what’s hot and who’s playing at the “Ribby.” Located in the heart of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, the Bridgeport Rib House is a great place to meet and eat while enjoying great live music.
First stepped foot inside the Ribhouse in March of 2001. The reason I came here was to see Franny Beecher perform. Franny was one of the founding fathers of rock n roll and I couldn’t believe he was playing in this little bar which I passed by a million times! I was so moved by this elderly man who influenced everything we listen to today that I went home and wrote about it! I’m a career bartender, and a year and a half later, I got a job here because I wanted to work in a live music atmosphere.
In 2012 I was asked to manage the business, but I liked living the free frolicking life of a bartender, so I declined but volunteered to book the music. Booking bands became my passion and I helped to create a buzz about the live music scene at The Bridgeport Ribhouse. The Ribhouse was quickly becoming known as a shining star of music venues in the Philly suburbs.
In 2013, the owner, who lived in Florida decided to sell the business and I emailed him asking if he would consider selling it to his employees. He agreed to this and I began managing the business to be sure I was equipped for such an undertaking. I gathered partners and in 2015, put my house on the market to acquire the funds I needed to buy this business. In 2016 I sold my house and moved in with my family to help care for my elderly Mother. I waited until 2017 for my partners to get their shares.
On December 12th, 2017, we took over. We signed a triple net lease and a loan with the former owner that will mature in 2024.
Shortly after taking over the business, one of our partners disappeared so I borrowed money and bought his share. When Covid hit, my other partner ran away, leaving me with the business to run by myself. Two days in to quarantine, my landlord and former boss sent me a text to let me know that if I didn’t pay the April rent, he would foreclose. It was mid March and I was never even one day late with his rent or loan payment each month. I actually paid on the first of every month religiously. We had great rapport, so his sudden change in the direction of greed floored me!
We tried opening for take out only and sales were dismal, our staff was scared, customers were scared. This country was scared. By June, restrictions were lifted and outside dining was allowed. I immediately bought 10 pop up tents and our dedicated staff came to work 3 hours early each day to help set up tents, drag out tables and chairs, set up a full bar and create a festive atmosphere that had to be broken down again each and every night! The community quickly pitched in. A friend loaned us a giant party tent, musicians helped build a stage and a sound proof wall. One day, cables with locks appeared for us to begin locking up our set up rather than breaking it down nightly! Rotation Records rented a second tent for us and paid for the tent until July. I rented the tent for two months after that then realized we would need it for a long time, so Rotation Records and The Bridgeport Ribhouse bought a tent together. I bought a new POS system and placed it near the door to our parking lot so that our staff didn’t have to run upstairs to ring in every item. The costs kept building and my savings was slowly diminishing.
In July, I hooked up a garden hose to an industrial fan so that outside customers could get misted during the crushing heat wave, while dining on blacktop. In July, I reserved turbo propane heaters and signed a contract until April. Everyone was hot, exhausted and overwhelmed, but we all came to work each and every day and worked harder than we ever imagined we could.
We got the PPP loan, but it was enough to pay all of our bills in full and keep the staff on payroll for a couple months. My savings was slowly draining.
A local breakfast spot got new table tops and light fixtures, and they called us and asked if we would like their old ones.
Since inside dining was banned, customers started a rehab project inside! our community tore down a ceiling and installed a new one. People stopped by to paint the interior and help hang memorabilia! When inside dining resumed, our community donated chairs to us so that we had enough for both inside and outside capacity.
When fall approached, people started dropping off stand up heaters, then helped us to create our “shanty town” by securing plastic side flaps and helping us to stay relevant and the music stay alive. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful community who want to see us survive. Each and every one of us has been choked up more than once by the sincere generosity of our community. To me, we’re all family. My Sweet Little Mother passed away in October and our wonderful staff jumped in to make sure I was able to take a couple of days off.
Through all of this, we have continued to donate food to our community on a regular basis. We also donate gift cards to our local police to dispense to those in need. We are a staple in this community and have participated in every event that involved our little borough. Our entire staff volunteers on Bridgeport Clean Up Days and holds flags for traffic at the Bridgeport Carnival. We hold benefits for Bridgeport Little League and open our catering vans for “trunk or treat”. We always say yes when a hand is outstretched. As a community driven business, we are holding on as tight as possible, not only for ourselves, but for the musicians, the patrons who made this place what it is and the friends we haven’t yet met.
If there is any way you can help us make it through this, we will be forever grateful.