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Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA – Music and Merriment since 1734! A hidden-in-plain-sight historic spot

Posted on: February 28, 2018

Some places are known by word of mouth only, and Chestnut Hill’s Mermaid Inn is one of them. While it’s practically CENTURIES older than her typical Retro Roadmap 1920s-1960s sweet spot, Mod Betty is charmed by the historic yet welcoming atmosphere of this cozy spot, so she’s gettin’ the word out.

Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Though it was established as a stagecoach stop back in 1734, the stone building and cobblestone street date to 1919. Asked if the place is haunted, owner Joanne Mekis (whose father bought it in 1959) says “spirits abound”, and you can just feel that history as soon as you walk through the double red doors.
Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap
Speaking of spirits, they’ve got a full liquor license here, so the cherrywood back bar (with stained glass inlay!) is fully stocked, including craft beer on tap and Italian and French wines available. The small menu include salads, burgers, cheesesteaks and sandwiches.

Oh, and check out that fantabulous chandelier above the bar! Made of brass with milkglass shades, it once was lit by gas and is a sight to behold.

Open Wednesday – Saturday starting at 6pm, the Mermaid is no longer an Inn but mainly known for its live music every night that includes a little bit of everything in the Americana, roots, bluegrass, folk, poetry, Irish, blues, vein. The schedule is online here and is updated monthly. Cash only (ATM onsite) remember to include enough for the cover/pass the hat, since 100% goes to the musicians.

Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro RoadmapThe antique beveled glass windows have hand-painted mermaid medallions, except for where they’ve gone missing through the decades. See if you can take a peek at the one behind where the band sets up. With her blonde hair and tan she’s a bit like Malibu Mermaid! Mod Betty prefers the brunettes.

Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

The arch over the bar is capped with sculptured relief of a ladies head on either end. They’ll get the occasional painted face-lift by local artists who frequent the place.

Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Music happens in the main room – and sometimes dancing! Legend has it there’s a mosaic mermaid inlaid in the tiles beneath the current floor, Joanne hopes to uncover it some day.

But if that’s not your thing and you just want to sit and converse with friends, there’s a cozy side room to hang in. If you’re digging the vibe of the Mermaid and want the place to yourself, it’s also available to rent for parties, gatherings, gigs. Just ask any of the friendly bar-tenders for the details. Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Speaking of small rooms, Mod Betty would be remiss if she did not mention the fab vintage mens room sign!

Mermaid Inn Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

With plenty of free parking, follow the siren song off the road and into the Mermaid as travelers have done for hundreds of years!