F&A Grog House restaurant and bar that recently opened at 117 E. Third St. in South Bethlehem. The local business is owned by Gina Altman and her husband, Howard. (FangMing Song/B&W Staff)

‘Great beer, great food and great service’: F&A Grog House opens on the South Side

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Walking into F&A Grog House, one is met with an expansive bar and a medley of sounds, consisting of quiet chatter, the sound of pool balls rolling around and the voices of musicians and sports announcers alike. 

F&A Grog House, a restaurant and bar, opened on the South Side of Bethlehem this past June, providing students and residents with another local dining option.  

Situated between Fade on 3rd and U & Tea on East Third Street, the restaurant and bar serves 52 taps of beer and an array of cocktails and food, including salads, burgers and wings.

The exposed brick walls, concrete bar, and an art wall composed of vintage signs lend to a mixed atmosphere, one that has a “classic pub feel,” but also an “American bar feel,” said Jim Flynn, manager of F&A Grog House. 

Gina Altman, co-owner of F&A Grog House alongside her husband Howard Altman, said that much of the reason they opened in Bethlehem was due to their desire to be part of the SouthSide Arts district. 

“We saw an opportunity here, from a business that was previously here, that we thought we could turn into a place that we’d like to go to,” Gina Altman said.

Altman said that collaborating with local community members is important. 

The Altmans and Flynn have enlisted local bands for their weekend live music specials, as well as local artists to help decorate the restaurant, such as tattoo artist Sarah Fiedler who created the chalkboards in the restaurant. 

While the location has undergone many renovations since the change in ownership, a few things still remain the same.

Paying homage to MacGrady’s, the former establishment housed in the East Third Street location, Altman said that the restaurant’s art wall includes items that once decorated the former restaurant.

Not only has F&A Grog House inherited a few physical similarities from MacGrady’s, but the restaurant and bar have also seen former MacGrady’s patrons frequenting the establishment. 

“There’s definitely MacGrady’s people that come in here, and the majority of them are so excited, really love what we have done with the place and (are) very happy to be back,” Altman said. “They are really excited to see the tables still here, but they love the upgrades. But we are also seeing an influx of new people as well, which is nice.”

Bradley Nelmes, a customer of F&A Grog House and former patron of MacGrady’s, said that while it is different, he likes the new paint job, as well as the pool tables and the expanded beer selection.

“I tried two of one of the old school beers that I haven’t had since I went to Germany,” Nelmes said. 

Nelmes said when comparing the beers to what he had in Germany he would give them a rating of eight out of 10. 

One new addition to the restaurant is a colorful mural depicting steelworkers in action, with the Steel Stacks that once sustained the area in the background. 

Flynn said he hopes for F&A Grog House to serve as a place for students to relax. 

“You have got a lot of young kids around here that need a place to blow off steam and have a good time,” Flynn said. 

Flynn said the restaurant currently has multiple artists slated to play live music on Friday and Saturday nights. F&A Grog House will also be hosting both karaoke and trivia, as well as televising local and national sports, including Lehigh football games. 

Flynn said that F&A Grog House also plans to host Saint Practice Day, an event that will include Irish beer specials and take place on Sept. 17, exactly six months ahead of Saint Patrick’s Day. 

“(I want it to) be the place that people really want to come for great beer, great food and great service,” Altman said. 

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