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Fear and Loathing at the Independent: A Gonzo Salute to Our First Year in Business


"But our trip was different.  It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character.  It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country -- but only those with true grit.  And we were chock full of that."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

A year and a week ago, Matt and I received confirmation via facsimile from the good folks at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board informing us that we were the latest recipients of a valid license to sell alcoholic beverages in this fine Commonwealth.  After a year of discussions regarding our plan to have a bar that would serve strictly local, craft beer, and after nearly four months of our complaining about the slow process in which the license transferred, there we were, legal authority to open in hand, with virtually no idea what to do with it.  

Most people in that situation would have waited, learned, planned, constructed, and, only then, opened.  Not us.  And, for that matter, not YOU either.  There was too much excitement to wait.  And so, with the help of our good friends (there are too many of you to name everyone, but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least name Eric Goldberg, Jeff Shook, Jeff and Courtney Myers, Jon Akins, Chadd Simpson, Will Hopkins, Brian Van Luik, Matt Chinman, Ken Fisher, George Herrity, Bobby Fry, and our parents Lutz and Carol Kurzweg, as I'm not sure if those folks ever really left our space from the day we walked into Fanattics to the day we opened the Independent**), with the still-to-this-day-unending help and dedication of our business partner and Presidente Cocktologisto, Adam, with the help of our friends-turned-bartenders Amie, Tina, Tiffany, Brian, Maddy, James, Nico and Alicia, who are more responsible than anyone in shepherding us through the first several months of business, and with the help of Chef Monique, who we had met (for the first time) the day prior, we pulled off a soft opening five days after receiving our license, a Grand opening the week thereafter, and opened our doors for regular business on Friday, February 21, 2014.*

Here we are, a year later, still serving exclusively local craft beer, still playing exclusively vinyl records, still serving only high-quality cocktails and spirits, still weird as hell, still not serving coors light, still not serving flavored vodkas, still not throwing frozen food into fryers.  Along the way, we've picked up a great staff, started a badass tiki night, and managed to have quite a bit of fun.  It's time to celebrate.  In that vein, I proudly introduce our Anniversary Party "Fear and Loathing at the Independent:  A gonzo Salute to our First Year in Business."

Why Hunter S. Thompson Themed?  

"I want you to have all the background ... because this is a very ominous assignment -- with overtones of extreme personal danger... Hell, I forgot all about this beer; you want one?"

Hunter S. Thompson made his name with his particular form of "Gonzo" journalism, in which he was participatory in the story that he was supposed to cover.  The participatory nature of Thompson's writing finds common ground with the culture that we've created at the Independent.  Every person at our bar, whether staff, friend, customer, brewer, or owner (the lines between whom have long since blurred), has participated in our story.  The Independent has been our joint adventure.  We want to celebrate that adventure together, in the way that the Doctor of Journalism himself would want to celebrate it:  with another adventure.  

On Saturday February 21, a year after we first opened our doors for good, we'll open at 4 p.m. as a Hotel Room in the Mint Hotel, artfully trashed by the Good Doctor of Journalism and his Attorney.  Cocktails and food will, of course, be in theme.  And, we will release a special pin firkin of the Smoked Oatmeal Stout that we brewed with Hitchhiker a few weeks ago, which we have called "Broadside and in a Cloud of Smoke," in yet another HST reference.  

This party is going to be one to make the Good Doctor proud. 

See you at the Independent.

Pete K. 

*  A very long sentence.    

** It's unclear if they left much after that too?