“When I first started working in Philadelphia, it was like a genuine trashy go-go bar, and then that burned down,” he said. “Then the current ownership took over, and that’s when I started coming. I’ve been coming since it reopened as a novelty trashy go-go bar.”
Hitchens is a regular at the “intentionally divey” go-go bar on 11th Street near Callowhill, which was originally called J&J Trestle Inn. It has been a staple in the neighborhood for more than 100 years under different ownership, according to its website.
Hitchens, who works at a software company a few blocks away, stops by The Trestle Inn every Thursday after work for happy hour with his co-workers Matt McFarland and Alice Rottersman.
“It’s like a hug,” Rottersman said. “It’s dark. It’s cozy.”
McFarland said the co-workers frequent the bar because of its proximity to their office, $4 happy hour drafts and the “high-quality” beer selection.
“And at least it’s not crowded when we come here,” he added. “I hear it’s crowded on the weekends, but for after-work happy hour it’s not.”
On weekends after 10 p.m., the bar is known for live DJs, ‘60s and ‘70s music, like disco and Motown, and go-go dancers, who are mainly women.
Renae Dinerman, who has managed The Trestle Inn for more than three years, said the bar’s long history draws a wide variety of patrons.
“Folks who have their first cocktail when they turn 21 will come here because they’ve heard about us,” she said. “We get people who are in their 60s and 70s who want to dance to the music that they danced to when they were teenagers, and everyone in between. We really do truly have a diverse crowd.”
Like many bars in the city, The Trestle Inn has changed as its neighborhood changed. Back in the early 1900s, when Callowhill was an industrial area known for its factories and manufacturing, Dinerman said factory workers would come in for a beer on their breaks or on their way home from work.
The bar was also popular among journalists, from the time the old Philadelphia Inquirer building on Broad Street near Callowhill was completed in 1924 until the paper moved to 8th and Market streets in 2012.
“When the Philadelphia Inquirer was on the other side of Broad Street, a lot of people from the editorial or management staff or people who were working the press, they would always come here,” Dinerman said.
Since reopening in 2011, The Trestle Inn’s patronage has changed. Dinerman said more young people come in looking for cocktails and whiskey, rather than a quick beer. She said the bar doesn’t serve many canned beers, flavored whiskeys or Jägermeister anymore. The most-ordered drink, she said, is a classic whiskey sour.
“This iteration has been like this for about six and a half years,” she said. “It still is a neighborhood bar, but it was like a shot and a beer kind of establishment rather than fine whiskeys and craft cocktails.”
The bar also hosts events, like a weekly soul music night on Fridays, a pitt bull adoption party hosted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on the first Wednesday of every month and an annual bartender competition, called the “Bourbon Battle,” that also benefits PSPCA.
With the bar’s revived popularity, Dinerman thinks The Trestle Inn stands out among trendy bars in the city.
“Even though the clientele might be a little younger, they’re a little more knowing about what they want to drink,” she said. “So we’re definitely not a kids’ bar.”