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Bidding Opened For New (Or Returning) Operator Of Old City's City Tavern

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The City Tavern's concession contract with the National Park Service will be expiring soon.  NPS officials have opened the bidding process for a new 10-year lease on the landmark property, which the NPS owns, at 2nd and Walnut Streets.

Independence National Historical Park public affairs officer Jane Cowley says the previous "concession" contract was designed to provide services to visitors at a time when there were not many other options.

"We were in a different time, and the city was a little bit different.  But now, Old City and historic Philadelphia is such a vibrant, thriving  community," she says.  "It's really no longer appropriate for a concession, so we are transitioning it to a lease agreement.  And we have no preference in terms of how that lease ends up and who it ends up with."

Chef Walter Staib, current proprietor of the City Tavern's 15,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, knew this process would be happening eventually.  He says he's thrilled about the agreement change, because he would not be subject to closing in the event of a government shutdown, as has happened in the past.

staib walter
(Chef Walter Staib. File photo)

"I have no intention of leaving," Staib tells KYW Newsradio.  "But I also need to make sure the requirements they have are manageable, since I have -- obviously -- hands-on experience for 17 years."

The five-level structure is actually a replica of the original tavern, which was partly destroyed by fire in the 1830s and demolished in 1854. The National Park Service rebuilt the structure in 1975, prior to the Bicentennial.

In the meantime, City Tavern is open for business. Those interested in submitting a proposal for the property must do so by September 16th.  For more information, click go to

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060

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