BYOB: One potato, two potato, Hot Potato

In the heart of Fishtown, just six minutes from Center City, the new Hot Potato Cafe is serving the neighborhood something it needs – a casual dining restaurant that just happens to be BYOB. The restaurant officially opened yesterday, March 26.

“We knew the area was in need of a good restaurant,” said co-owner Erin Keller. That is an understatement. The Fishtown area is home to pizza shops and Chinese takeout spots, but it’s hard to find a casual Americana restaurant on the developing Girard Avenue.

Sisters Claire and Kathryn Keller and their sister-in-law Erin Keller dreamed up Hot Potato Cafe to follow a philosophy of “consistency, cleanliness [and] courtesy.” Beyond these three qualities, co-owner Claire Keller guarantees “good food and good times,” she said.

Hot Potato Cafe is ironically the site of a former Wine and Spirits shop that has since moved to the corner of 2nd Street and Girard Avenue. The Kellers are sure that many of their customers will BYOB from that location.

The Kellers said they are expecting word of mouth to promote Hot Potato. One of the reasons they chose the name is because it’s easy to remember and quick to say. They said they wanted a name they could work into the feel of the restaurant, while giving people a funny reaction.

They also said they noticed the benefits of foot traffic as an effective promotion strategy. Fishtown is curious when it comes to restaurants, and people are always peeking in. While I was there one day before the restaurant officially opened to the public, at least 20 people stopped to check out the scene.

Hot Potato hopes a varied clientele of all ages and backgrounds will experience and enjoy the BYOB. The menu is collaborated between owners and Chef Beth Rafter, and is comprised of popular dishes from seafood to Shepherd’s pie. The items were chosen to accommodate a majority of tastes and are categorized by catchy Philly-related phrases such as “Da Birds” and “Italian Stallions.”

“We had a lot of fun with [the menu],” said Erin as she laughed at the menu’s “tatter tots” section for kids.

The Kellers said they predict the prime rib to be a hit. They’ve had some taste testers offer their opinions and dishes have received positive feedback for both taste and presentation.

Hot Potato Cafe is a contemporary atmosphere designed to make diners comfortable and cozy. The decor includes three fish sculptures to represent Fishtown and sweet potato and spud signs used to designate the bathrooms. For BYOBers, the Kellers plan to provide coolers on hand for those who don’t want their six packs or bottle to get warm.

Hot Potato Cafe will be a positive change for the Fishtown area, as well as a relief for those who enjoy a little bit of BYOB.

Melanie Menkevich can be reached at

Hot Potato
529 East Girard Ave.
(215) 425-0905

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