CAMDEN, NJ— What has become a popular trend in Philadelphia — pop-up beer gardens — is making its way across the Delaware River into Camden.
The Camden City Planning Board recently awarded preliminary and final site plan approval to CFBG, Inc. to build an outdoor, “pop-up beer garden” at 317 Market St.
However, CFBG, Inc. owner Damon Pennington wants to call his pop-up beer garden something a little different.
“It’s going to be called the Arts Garden," said Pennington. "One of the big things for me in redeveloping urban environments, is that bringing in the business is one thing, but the arts are [also] important."
Pennington said one of his goals is to use his beer garden as a venue to try and advance the city’s arts community, similar to the Philadelphia neighborhoods Northern Liberties and Fishtown.
“We want it to be a place where people can really come and just chill and hang out, whether your listening to live acoustic music or there is a DJ playing. Somewhere you can get really good food and just hang out and have a good time,” Pennington said.
Pennington, the president and CEO of Camden-based ATS Group, owns a number of other properties on that block of Market Street between Third and Fourth avenues, and hopes to transform it into a restaurant row.
“I feel that Market Street is going to be the true artery of the city,” said Pennington, with the Subaru headquarters on the east end of the street, and the major waterfront development happening on the west end.
“I want this to be the place where people walk around and hang out downtown,” he said. “The short goal is at lunchtime people hanging out and after work, I want people staying here after five. If you can do that, you help create the catalyst for Camden to turn that corner.”
Pennington hopes to start that with opening of the beer garden and his other project right next door, a two-story restaurant at 315 Market called Signatures 315. He said the goal is open the beer garden by the end of July.
The 7,800 square-feet beer garden, or “arts garden” will feature recycled shipping containers used as bars and a stage, open seating and picnic tables. According to Pennington, the plan is to keep it open from April to November, seven days a week, weather permitting.
It will serve “not just great food, it’ll also be really great spirits and really great beers,” said Pennington. The beer garden will provide parking at the parking lot across the street.
“There’s a lot of cool things that I haven’t even announced yet that are going to be cooler,” said Pennington. “I think this arts garden, this beer garden, is going to be on everyone’s Instagram, on everyone’s Twitter and you’ll see why.”
"We’re at the cusp of really making Camden a great place to be."