Glenside Walkabout: Keswick Tavern for a Brush with Greatness

The corner tavern is such a fixture in our culture. From Martini’s in “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Cheers” to just about every cop show ever produced, the bar often sets the stage for the story about to unfold. Or it becomes the backdrop for — if not an integral part of — the story itself.

The Keswick Tavern fits that role like a glove. It is the meeting spot for people on their way to a show at the theater. It’s the hangout for the Arcadia crowd. It’s a hub of the neighborhood. And most importantly, it’s a locally owned watering hole that brings vitality to the Glenside night life often lacking in the ‘burbs.

Before meeting Abington residents, Bob and Michelle McKeever and their daughter Kelly, I wondered if the tavern was owned by true locals or some restaurant consortium. Credit my confusion to their higher standards than typically found in a mom-and-pop tavern. However, the McKeevers have been at it for twenty-one years, starting when Bill and Michelle McKeever took a bold leap from secure jobs at PECO and as a dental hygienist respectively to seek fortune in the pub life.

The couple had much to learn, but they have enjoyed a good run, and in 2014 made a major upgrade to the tavern in response to the changes in their market. Seeing their customer base getting younger and more selective about their food and drink, the McKeevers upgraded the menu along with the atmosphere. Today, they offer what they call “homemade pub food,” where they’ve taken a familiar and comfortable menu and improved it with fresh ingredients.

“The only thing frozen on our menu is the French fries,” Michelle conceded through her wry-but-sparkling smile.

The always-important beer selection includes twenty-four drafts, four of which sourced from the usual suspects, but on any given evening, the tavern offers a wide range of craft beers as well.

Today, they’ve branched out with taverns in the city, but at the KT, daughter Kelly minds the store keeping the concept as fresh as the menu. She sees the younger crowd gravitating more towards vodka and tequila drinks, and cites the “Drunken Margarita” cocktail as a favorite.

Performance nights at the Keswick Theater may bring some star power through the door and potential brushes with greatness. Because so many national acts make the venue a stop on their tours, the KT makes for a convenient post-performance respite. Lucky fans might have caught Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith after their recent show.

While the tavern’s back room provides a private setting for some big names and their entourages, Michelle also likes to point out that “some celebrities just like to come here and be treated like anyone else. Sometimes they just take a seat at the bar.”

In other words, the McKeevers have made it a tavern for everyone.

The Keswick Tavern is located at the corner of Easton and Keswick Avenue in Keswick Village. It’s open daily starting at 4pm. For more information, call (215) 886-4277 or visit their website.

We love walking the walkable communities, so GlensideLocal will take a stroll and present our readers with the people that give us all these great stores, restaurants, and other small businesses that make Glenside and Jenkintown such attractive places to live, work, and visit.