William Allen was a valuable Philadelphia merchant and Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania. During the summers he resided in his huge estate located on Germantown Avenue. Later on, in the 18th century, the area was titled Mount Airy due to the name of Allen’s estate. The neighborhood of Mount Airy grew tremendously in the 20th and 21st century, with the addition of a variety of independent shops, restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, and professional offices. Today, we will be discussing a well-known restaurant and brewery located in the heart of Mount Airy: Earth – Bread + Brewery.
Earth and its Owners
Prior to opening Earth, Peggy and Tom owned Heavyweight Brewing Company in Ocean Township, NJ. Over the years they built up a strong fan base for Tom’s handcrafted brews and eventually decided to move to the Mount Airy area since Philadelphia was a booming beer town.
Earth – Bread + Brewery opened in the Fall of 2008 after the couple, Peggy Zwerver and Tom Baker, were inspired by friends who owned a brewpub with artisan flatbreads in Vermont. They named their restaurant “Earth” to embrace their love of sustainability and protecting the environment. They added “Bread + Brewery” to the restaurant’s title to represent what exactly they do. “Bread” stands for the main menu item: appetizing, wood-fired flatbread pizza. “Brewery” exemplifies their craft beer that is made in-house and always changing. Peggy and Tom work hard to provide a comfortable space where guests can relax and enjoy wholesome food and drink.
Tom is the man behind the beer. He has been in the brewing business for more than 20 years and isn’t stopping anytime soon. Just like many other brewers, Tom started out as a homebrewer where he developed his own brewing techniques and methods. After becoming a homebrewer Tom attended the American Brewers Guild where he took a four-month crash course on brewing. As a brewer, Tom tends to focus on German and English hops because they contribute earthier flavors that go hand-in-hand with their complex malt flavors. Tom is not only a brewer, but he also supports the other Philadelphia breweries by offering their beers on tap at Earth (to see their full drink list click here). By including other breweries beer, Tom has the freedom to experiment with his brews as much as possible.
Peggy is the woman behind Earth, she does all the books, runs the restaurant, decorates the building, and works hard to make her place of business as sustainable as possible. I had the pleasure of speaking with Peggy when I visited and she said her favorite part about running a restaurant is developing relationships with their customers and hearing about their overall experience at Earth.
A True Neighborhood Restuarant
Peggy and Tom pride themselves on being active members of the Mount Airy neighborhood. One of the reasons they moved to this neighborhood was because of the liberal politics and sustainability-minded residents. They are determined to use local ingredients from all over the area within their menu items, especially their popular flatbreads. Tom even uses local ingredients to create unique and new flavors in his craft beer. All of the restaurant’s furnishings and fixtures were found in flea markets, antique shops, and the communal dining tables are made from salvaged farmhouse wood.
Along with using local ingredients and furnishings, the owners are determined to make their restaurant as green as possible. Composting and recycling are very high on the priority list when it comes to Earth. All of their food waste, paper napkins, and corn-based food cups are composted, while all other waste is either recycled or thrown in the trash. Peggy firmly believes that every piece of waste has an appropriate place either in the compost, recycling or trash bin.
Not only are they active in protecting the environment, they are huge advocates for non-profit charities and organizations. At Earth, customers are encouraged to bring in canned goods, which get donated to Sunday Suppers. Sunday Suppers is an organization that provides healthy dinners and food to less fortunate families in the West Kensington. They have a “Dine Out for the Environment” event, where customers can come in and enjoy a wonderful dinner without producing a lot of waste. And at the same time, their proceeds go to local environmental causes to help with their programs and initiatives.
Lastly, they display artwork from local artists all over the building’s walls and every two months the paintings change so they can feature new and upcoming artists. Earth – Bread + Brewery also offers open mic nights, table tennis tournaments, quizzo, and concerts by local bands to help build a strong a presence within the neighborhood.
My two friends and I went to Earth – Bread + Brewery on a Friday night. We live in West Philadelphia, so it was only about 20-minute drive outside of the city. Earth is located right on the corner of Germantown Avenue and W Durham Street. You can see the building from afar due to the beautiful mural on the side of the building. Germantown Avenue is a lovely and lively street with many shops, restaurants, and galleries filling up both sides of the street.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we headed up the stairs where we were welcomed by a hostess and seated right away. One of my favorite parts of Earth is the fact that all of their menus are inside recycled children books, it is an entertaining and sustainable way to present their menu. For appetizers, we ordered the “Dip of the Day” which was a buffalo chicken dip served with homemade bread. All three of us agreed that this was a delicious choice and even requested additional bread so we wouldn’t let any dip go to waste. To go along with our appetizer, we ordered a round of beers including their strong wheat ale, Einkorn, and a sour/wild ale, Wooden Guppy. The Wooden Guppy brew was beyond delightful, each of us got two more rounds of it (except the designated driver of course)!
Since the restaurant is known for their homemade flatbreads, we decided to order three different pizzas so we could share and try each of them. We ordered “The Seed”, “Wild About Mushrooms” and “Nashville Hot Chicken” flatbreads and could have not been more satisfied. I think between the three of us, our favorite was the “Nashville Hot Chicken.” The flatbread was very unusual including hot brown sugar sauce and artisan pickles finished with scallions and dill buttermilk ranch dressing. I think the creativity behind this particular flatbread is what made it so tasty. If you would like to see a complete list of their food items, click here.
Overall, my friends and I had a wonderful first experience here. We are planning on heading back for a quizzo night or a table tennis tournament, whichever happens first. For all my Philadelphia locals, I would highly recommend this restaurant and brewery for anyone trying to escape the chaos of the city!