The Boyertown Area Times
Keeping it local at The Ironstone, Boyertown’s newest gathering spot
Historic location offers ‘something for everyone’
Keeping it local is a recurring theme among management and staff at The Ironstone, a recently opened restaurant in the heart of Boyertown.
General manager Christina Marshall often rides her bike to work. John Hanna, executive chef, lives a quick, six-minute walk from his kitchen, and several staff members also walk to their jobs.
Friends and neighbors stop by the bar for a drink or bring their families for lunch or dinner in the restaurant’s spacious dining room, eager to check out Hanna’s specials for the day.
The specials vary, but it’s certain they’ll feature meats, baked goods and produce sourced from locally owned businesses.
The restaurant purchases whole, recently butchered steers from Peterson & Shaner Black Angus Farm in Douglass Township, Berks County, and rabbit meat for Hanna’s popular rabbit toast appetizer from another local farmer.
Sourdough bread is baked just down the road at Frecon Farms, and salad greens and other produce are sourced from local growers. With the local growing season just getting underway, Hanna and Marshall are forging relationships with other farmers to assure a steady supply of fruits and vegetables.
“There’s tons of farms stands within a stone’s throw from here,” Hanna said. “We’ve got all these great resources available to us, which is really exciting. We know we can get quality items because we know where everything comes from.”
Committed to using every part of the steers they purchase, Hanna creates innovative offerings including beef tongue tacos and beef heart tartare. He saves cow shins until he has enough to make osso buco, and roasts bones for stock.
“I want to respect the animal
and the hard work that went into raising it and butchering it,” he said. “Nothing gets wasted.”
A long history
The Ironstone, 120 E. Philadelphia Ave. in Boyertown, which opened earlier this year and celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on April 8, has a long history as a hotel and restaurant.
Built around 1859, the building operated as a public house and later as the William Penn Hotel, which featured a dining room, barroom, a sitting room, 31 guest rooms and stable for 30 horses.
The building was later sold to Samuel Sperry, who renamed it the Mansion House. It operated as the Mansion House for many years, serving as a hub for leaders of business, industry and politics.
Reputed to have provided patrons
with alcoholic beverages served in the basement during the Prohibition era, the Mansion House once featured a special of 100 oysters for 60 cents.
It later became Durango’s Saloon, operating as such until it was purchased last year by Thomas Heeney, a Boyertown attorney, and Hank Frecon, president of Frecon Farms. Heeney and Frecon, along with several partners, also own the Other Farm Brewing Company, located next to The Ironstone and also managed by Marshall.
A winning team to move The Ironstone forward
Marshall, who worked in restaurant management in King of Prussia before moving to Boyertown 26 years ago, is confident of The Ironstone’s success.
“I have a really talented staff that makes my job easy,” she said. “I’m blessed with the dedicated people we have.”
The interior of the restaurant was extensively renovated before opening, with the kitchen gutted and a new HVAC system installed. Plans to expand the restaurant are being considered, Marshall said, but will proceed cautiously.
“We have some lofty plans, but we’re doing things in phases,” said. “It’s an old building and it’s historic, so we have to make sure we do things right.”
Plans include the addition of outdoor dining and, eventually, converting some of the apartments on the upper floors of the building to private dining areas.
The restaurant backs up to the
rail yard of the Colebrookdale Railroad, providing additional customers for the Ironstone and opening the possibility to perhaps partner with the railroad in some way.
“People come from all over the country for the train, and it’s right in our back yard,” Marshall noted.
Meanwhile, Hanna, who moved to Boyertown from Atlanta in March 2022, is working on updating the menu, and enjoying getting to know his suppliers and interacting with customers.
“We have regulars who come to try the specials every week,” Hanna said. “It’s really cool to be able to come out and talk to them about the food and get to know them.”
Jessica Benson, a bartender at The Ironstone, said she meets plenty of out-of-town customers along with the locals who stop by.
“Boyertown has a lot of bars and restaurants, but this one is special,” she said.
The bar features innovative cocktails and an extensive draft beer selection that changes regularly. In addition to Hanna’s weekly specials, the menu includes interesting offerings such as Vietnamese steak salad, a Peruvian-inspired roasted chicken and house-cured-and-smoked pastrami. Oysters are a featured special every Tuesday night.
“We get lots of customers who walk over, but we also get people who come from other places for the food and drink,” Benson said. “There’s something here for everyone.”
The restaurant is closed on Mondays. It opens at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and at noon Wednesday through Sunday.