South Philly native Jolly Weldon is a veteran restaurateur. Ten years ago, he opened Prime Rib at the Warwick Hotel at 17th and Locust streets. In 2001, he opened Jolly’s American Bar at 17th and Moravian streets. And in 2003, he opened the Redhead Piano Lounge in Rittenhouse Square.
His latest project? Temple’s very own Draught Horse.
“I have had very different clientele at my other restaurants, and I love being around the students,” Weldon said.
Last spring, Weldon, now managing partner and co-operator of the Draught Horse, started consulting for the restaurant. Over the summer, he closed the Draught Horse for two months, remodeled and reopened in time for the start of fall semester.
“The Draught Horse was trying to be everything to everyone in the same space,” Weldon said. “The students wanted a bar, and the faculty, administration and staff wanted a nice sit-down restaurant.”
To make the Draught Horse friendlier to both students and faculty, Weldon restructured the space. Now, the restaurant is split into two parts: the Draught Horse Pub and the Cherry Pit.
The Draught Horse Pub is smaller and quieter with more private booths and a new layout to speed up service.
“The staff has to react and put out food fast,” Weldon said. “Now, the servers can get around more quickly.”
The Cherry Pit has a more relaxed feel with new pool tables, dart boards, food and drink specials, a lower-priced menu, and a different activity each night. Every day, the bar features $2.99 appetizers, $2 Coors Light drafts and $5 pitcher specials. On Wednesdays, the bar offers $3 Blue Moon drafts. In addition to “Wild Wednesdays,” Philly rocker Kenn Kweder performs on Thursdays, live bands play on Fridays, and a DJ spins every Saturday night.
Carlos Bates, the marketing and promotions coordinator for Temple Athletics and “voice” of the Temple teams, helped to create the new atmosphere. Bates, whose official title at the Draught Horse is “Director of Fun,” started consulting for the restaurant last year.
“Carlos was a regular, and, in the middle of last year, he started helping us out,” said Cristiana Monahan, floor and events manager of the Draught Horse. “He lets us know about events and games.”
“I partied here as an undergrad,” said Bates, who studied political science at Temple.
Bates is the faculty advisor for the Cherry Crusade, a student organization that promotes sports at Temple. He asked Cherry Crusade President Steve Brooks and the rest of the members to contribute ideas.
“This year’s freshman class is so energetic,” said Brooks, a senior secondary education major. “We thought, ‘Let’s have viewing parties at the Draught Horse.'”
Brooks and the Cherry Crusade came up with the idea of opening early for Temple away games. Since the start of the semester, the Draught Horse has opened at 11 a.m. for two away games: the Temple vs. University of Connecticut game on Sept. 15 and the Temple vs. Bowling Green game on Sept. 22.
“Cherry Crusade members are the diehards of Temple Athletics,” Brooks said. “Now, the Draught Horse is our official sponsor.”
The Draught Horse is the site for Temple’s basketball radio program and football TV show. On Tuesdays before home football games, Coach Al Golden tapes The Al Golden Show at the Draught Horse.
Starting in December, coaches Fran Dunphy and Dawn Staley will record The Temple Basketball Show on Monday nights during basketball season.
In addition to new specials, activities and layout, the Draught Horse has new hours and a cheaper menu.
“Jolly was really influential,” Bates said. “He asked, ‘What do students want? What can students afford?'”
Now, the restaurant is open until 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and some prices have been cut in half. The cost of burgers is down from $9.99 to about $4.50, and Weldon plans to launch a new menu this month.
Since the restaurant reopened in August, its party business has increased.
“The Cherry Pit is available for rental, and we are looking to make money from food and beverages – not rental fees,” Weldon said. “We try to make the space affordable.”
Weldon and the restaurant staff are still putting the finishing touches on the new Draught Horse.
The restaurant opened on a Sunday for the first time on Nov. 4. Over the next few months, Weldon said he plans to build a carry-out section and implement delivery.
“We didn’t really have enough time to make all the changes,” Weldon said. “It’s a process, but this business is really simple if you keep it simple.”
Right now, Weldon is marketing to Temple students only.
“We want to make this the fun place to be at Temple,” he said.
“This is the first time I’ve heard people buzzing about the Draught Horse,” Brooks said.
“All the excitement is new for this local business.”
Leah Kristie can be reached at