Boot & Saddle: Big shoes to fill for bar’s new owner

Nightlife kingpin Avram Hornik is renovating a South Broad Street landmark and the neighborhood is divided over his plans.

“I would love to see it open again,” said former Boot & Saddle employee Walt Baker, who tended bar at the Broad and Ellsworth drinkery in its heyday decades ago. “It was a beautiful spot. They always had a country western band in the back and girls would come to dance and meet guys in the military service.”

Baker said the bar closed about 15 years ago.

“It was the best, most respectful bar in town,” said longtime neighbor Norman Sport. “I’d be excited to see it make a comeback.”

But members of the South Broad Street Neighborhood Association disagree.

“We’re not thrilled about it,” said President Peter Zutter, who heard Hornik present plans at an Oct. 18 community meeting. “We’re familiar with his other locations and it’s not really the kind of development we want to see on that part of Broad Street.”

Hornik, who did not return calls for comment, owns the raucous Drinkers chain, Lucy’s Hat Shop and Union Transfer. He plans to capitalize on Boot & Saddle’s hard-drinking and dancing history, Zutter said.

“Our impression is that it will be mostly a bar with entertainment,” Zutter said. “But we see the space as an opportunity to bring something different to the neighborhood. Our goal is to have something like a nice restaurant to anchor that side of Broad.”

The only aspect on which all neighbors agreed was Hornik’s pledge to keep the iconic sign. “It’s a landmark,” Baker said.

Trying to halt license

Zutter said that the South Broad Street Neighborhood Association is in the process of filing a Petition to Intervene in order to block the transfer of the Hornik’s liquor license from one of the bar owner’s former bars on Spruce Street to the Boot & Saddle.

“If he does get the transfer granted, we would try to do a Conditional Licensing Agreement, which would put certain stipulations on the license,” Zutter said. These may include restrictions on the bar’s hours of operation, noise level, live entertainment and outside promoters.

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