RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — First it was the MacDade House, then very briefly My Brother's Place, and maybe another name or two, before becoming Barnaby's. Then last spring when the sale of Barnaby's to the New Destiny Christian Church fell through because of a problem with zoning, a new potential buyer announced plans to renovate the restaurant and call it The Nash Bar & Grill. But that deal also didn't pan out.
But the latest proposal for the iconic MacDade Boulevard site looks like the real deal. Settlement on the property was to have taken place Monday and the new name will be The Ridley House. The Heritage Ballrooms in what use to be the Carnival Room nightclub in the rear of the restaurant will remain. The corporation that bought the property is known as The Ridley House LLC, reportedly part of the same New Jersey based firm that bought the old Towne House in Media, currently undergoing renovations.
"I did meet with them (the new owners) and the plans look great," Ridley Board of Commissioners President Bob Willert confirmed Monday. "There will be a whole new make-over, inside and out, including outside dining. It won't be like a sports bar. It will be more 'warm' inside. This is all preliminary."
Willert said there will be some type of sports bar in the back of the property and the new owners plan to keep the banquet rooms.
"It really looks sharp," Willert said. "I think the people will like it."
Willert said he had no information on the purchase price or no firm date on the opening for the new restaurant. No representatives of The Ridley House LLC or the real estate firm handling the sale were available for comment.
The old Barnaby's closed its doors for the last time back in April.
"It was a pleasure to be in the township and meet such nice people," said co-owner Ralph Lamarra on the end of the line for the Ridley icon.
Lamarra, Bill Dailey and Mike Gallon also operated two other popular watering holes in the township, Brownie's and Bootleggers, both in the Woodlyn Shopping Center. Their business association with the township goes back about 32 years.
The trio also operate Barnaby's in Aston, Haverford and West Chester.
Barnaby's made headlines in February when it was disclosed that the New Destiny Christian Center, currently located on Bullens Lane near MacDade Boulevard, planned to purchase the bar and the ballrooms for a place of worship. That news was met by some online opposition from many residents of the community.
Board of Commissioners President Bob Willert said at the time that it was the commissioners desire to "spruce up" the boulevard with economic development establishments, such as retail or restaurants. He also added that a church at the Barnaby's location would mean a loss of real estate tax revenue for the township and the Ridley School District.
Ultimately township zoning officer John Ward ruled that a place of worship is not a permitted use in a C-2 Commercial District. He noted the applicant could file an appeal to the ruling. No further action was taken by the church.
The old MacDade House Restaurant was a fixture on the boulevard for generations and the Carnival Room was once a nightclub for teenagers. The banquet rooms were a favorite for political party gatherings.
In 1968 the late Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, stopped at the MacDade House for a rally the day after Kennedy announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for president. Seven years ago U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made an appearance at a political banquet on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.