The Draught Horse: It’s more than just Wild Wednesdays

Over the past 17 years, the Horse has made loyal customers out of students, faculty and North Philadelphians.


A bartender at The Draught Horse Pub & Grill on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street pours vodka into a glass at the bar on Thursday. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Last semester, Zach Bedford went to the Draught Horse Pub & Grill five times in one week. But it wasn’t just to drink.

Once was lunch with friends, another was to play trivia and the final three times were to attend meetings for the Temple Veterans Association, for which he serves as vice president. The association supports veterans’ education, benefits and future employment.

“Between the local bars around campus, I think the Draught Horse is the classiest or the nicest one,” said Bedford, a senior biology major. “The food is always on point. The specials, beer prices, liquor prices, it’s always generally really good.”

The Draught Horse, which is on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street, opened in 2001. Throughout the last 17 years, the Horse has become a staple in student life through events held during the semester, like Thursday night Quizzo and club fundraisers.

Two years ago, Bedford went to the Draught Horse for the first time with a few of his friends. Right away, he knew he liked it because of the service.

“Typically, especially on a busy night, they’ll have, like, maybe four bartenders working, and they hit…every spot,” Bedford said. “Even when it’s busy, they’re still friendly. They’re still attentive.”

Assistant General Manager Shawn Palecek has worked at the Horse for six years. He thinks the bar leaves an impression on customers because of how hands-on the staff treats its customers.

“It’s like your mom-and-pop shop that you grew up around the corner from,” he said. “We have that rapport with people.”

Palecek said their regulars come from “all across the board.” They are faculty members, students and community residents.

The Draught Horse Pub & Grill on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street offers a variety of drinks, including cocktails, beer and liquor. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Larry Woods, a barber who works at Mecca Unisex Salon, which is across the street from the Horse, said he likes going to the bar because of the staff’s friendliness.

“The bartenders and servers are really professional and friendly,” Woods said. “That’s what you look for when you go somewhere just to chill.”

“It’s very unique because a lot of places are like either all college bars or all graduate school bars or all local bars,” said Sydney James, 45, a regular who lives near Fairmount. “I think [the Horse] brings the whole community together.”

The Horse hosts several weekday events, like Wild Wednesdays, Trivia Thursdays and 50 cent Fridays.

One of the busier nights at the Horse is Wild Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m with a $5 cover after 9:30 p.m. The atmosphere is similar to Philadelphia nightclubs since the DJs at the Horse, like DJ Aiden Scott and DJ N9NE, also play throughout the city.

“It’s like your mom-and-pop shop that you grew up around the corner from.”

On Trivia Thursdays, groups of teams play Quizzo from 9 to 11 p.m. Bedford said his team of four sits near the game announcer because they enjoy joking around with him.

At the end of the semester, the winning trivia team gets a $250 gift card for the Horse.

On Friday nights, 50-cent Coors Lights are served from 9 p.m. to midnight. This weekly event was adopted two years ago after it was a success at the Horse’s 15th anniversary party.

“People aren’t made of money, and we want college kids to be able to enjoy themselves and have a good time,” Palecek said.

Many customers also come in during the week to enjoy a reasonably priced drink or meal at the bar or seating area. The Horse has a full-service menu, 25 draft and craft beers and more than 50 craft cans and bottles.

Ozzie Sirin, the Draught Horse’s executive chef, has been running the kitchen for almost a year. He’s worked in the catering and restaurant business for 25 years.

Sirin said he’s “worked everywhere” in Philadelphia, including Lincoln Financial Field, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the University of Pennsylvania.

“He’s doing a lot of great and exciting things with the food,” Palecek said. “We’re on another level now.”

Palecek added that Sirin has improved the “culinary skill and technique” in the kitchen.

Besides the food, the Draught Horse finds ways to keep their customers coming back through events with special deals and incentives.

The Horse has a special drinking event every year for their regulars and any other interested customers. The Draught Horse Derby, which is now in its third year, runs the whole month of April. Participants have to come in each day that month and drink one alcoholic beverage.

Any participant who completes the Derby challenge receives a plaque with their name on it and is invited to a special happy hour with all the other finalists and their friends.

People mingle around the bar at Draught Horse Pub & Grill on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street on Thursday night. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“I had a lot of friends that I got interested in [the Derby], and then we all started doing it,” said Mike Vandevere, a senior legal studies major and one of last year’s finalists. “Through the Derby, we met a lot of different people.”

After spring break, the bar will start a beer club for people who drink frequently at the Horse. For the Draught Horse Beer Club, participants will have to drink 50 beers of any brand or type to earn a horseshoe. The club will have different levels, and participants can earn another horseshoe for every 50 beers they drink.

Another new event starting next semester is the Charity of Choice, which will be on Friday nights. For Charity of Choice, any university organization, club, fraternity, or sorority can try to earn points based on how many of their members visit the Horse.

The three groups with the most members will receive points each night. At the end of the school year, the winner with the most points will earn $500 from MillerCoors, a beer brewing company, and $500 from the Horse to donate to the charity of their choice.

The Draught Horse is also contacted by student clubs and other organizations to utilize its central location and space for after-school events.

Geena Bevenour, a senior media studies and production major and a peer adviser for the Klein College Global Opportunities program, said the Horse was the perfect location for Klein GO’s alumni social last semester.

“The people who go through our program typically like to have a good time and they’re outgoing,” Bevenour said. “So it was a really good atmosphere for that.”

The Horse is also well-suited to handle big occasions, like this year’s Super Bowl LII game where the Eagles defeated the Patriots. The ticketed event sold out very quickly, which Palecek said he expected because of the excitement around the game.

People were lined up outside before the doors opened at 3 p.m., and about 350 people from 21 years of age to 50 and 60-year-olds showed up for the highly anticipated game. Palecek said NBC Philadelphia and 6abc Action News stopped by to get live footage of everyone waiting for the game to start.

“Everybody was just very happy,” Palecek said. “It was obviously just a great time to be in Philly, really. That’s really what we wanted to do. We wanted to create an event that was just going to add on top of the excitement.”

The management and staff at the Horse know how to draw a crowd whether it’s the biggest sports moment in Philadelphia history or lunchtime on a weekday afternoon.

“I think we just do great from door to door, from the time you walk in to the time you walk out,” Palecek said. “It’s just a friendly establishment.”

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