The end of an era: Keswick Tavern has been sold

The Keswick Tavern, a Glenside staple since 1998, is closing its doors for good next month.

Owners Bill and Michelle McKeever first opened on Memorial Day weekend. While they found it fitting to curtain call around the same time of year, the decision to sell wasn’t easy.

“When we started the Keswick, we were in our 30s, and our lives were a lot different then. Now we’re 58 going on 59, our kids are in their twenties, and we want to do different things,” Michelle said. “We had an offer, we took it, but it’s also sad. It’s going to be weird. That place has been like our second home, but in the end, all things have to change.”

Kelly McKeever, daughter and general manager, is going in a different direction as well.

“The decision to sell was driven by a lot of factors. We felt that we had hit our max in terms of what we could do there, and we have another restaurant, the W Tavern in Willow Grove, and my dad is ready to downsize and just focus on one restaurant,” Kelly said. “We had a really hard time letting it go to someone who didn’t care about Glenside. We wanted someone who could carry on the legacy. We love Glenside and it’s really sad that we’re leaving, but we love the people that we’re turning it over to, which is great.”

The new owner, whose name is being temporarily withheld, is exactly what the McKeevers were looking for: A seasoned restauranteur, a Glenside native, and a current resident of Keswick Village.

The last hurrah, dubbed “The End of an Era” by ownership, is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 19. The all-day, all-night event will be cash-only and feature music and a buffet.

For the McKeevers, the overarching theme holds true across greater Glenside.

“We’re one of the only family-owned bars left. The ‘End of an Era’ theme goes with that. You don’t see mom-and-pop-type places open up as much anymore,” Michelle said. “We want to encourage everyone from Glenside, including past employees, to stop by.”

After the tavern’s closure, the interior will be gutted and revamped over a period of months. The family plans to say in the food game, and remnants of the Keswick Tavern will be transplanted to the W Tavern, including their crab cakes and wings.

Michelle’s cooking videos, which have exploded in popularity as of recent, will keep coming as well.

“I’ve always loved to cook. My kids threw me on TikTok, and the next you know, I’m viral with 13,000 followers. It’s been fun.”

Before they were owners in the service industry, Michelle was a dental hygienist on Keswick Avenue and Bill was working for PECO.

“It was always a dream of Bill’s to have a tavern. We have to thank our families, including Bill’s brother and my mother-in-law, for helping us out financially in the early days. His four sisters each helped us in one way or another, too,” Michelle said. “We’d also like to thank Ivy, my dad’s pseudo-adopted son, who’s been with us since Day One. He’ll be moving over to the W with us. There are a number of people who’ve been with us from the start, and we appreciate each and every one of them.”

“We really want to express how much it’s meant to us over the years,” Michelle said. “We’ve seen so many kids come through as busboys and servers, and now they’re grown and have kids of their own. We still follow along with a lot of those families. We’ve had countless tee ball and baseball teams sponsored by the tavern. We’ve become friends with all the owners in Keswick Village. We really appreciate the Gerhard’s who’ve been our landlords all along. They were with us through some hard times and good times.”

“It was a family effort,” Michelle said.

We will be in touch with more details about the End of an Era celebration. Stay tuned.

For all the latest news, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Glenside Local’s “Daily Buzz” newsletter here.

Photos: The McKeevers