It's the end of an era on the Main Line as The Tavern in Bala Cynwyd, a landmark that traces its roots to the end of Prohibition, has closed and will become a kosher restaurant and market.
Nick Zarvalas, who started at the restaurant on Montgomery Avenue as a waiter in 1965 and, with his brother (and cook), George, bought it in 1974, posted a note on the door: "I gratefully thank you for your patronage and loyalty," it read in part.
C&R Kitchen, a local kosher steak house owned by David Magerman, announced on Facebook that it was the buyer. It plans to open Citron and Rose Tavern and Market, serving C&R's menu as well as kosher versions of Tavern dishes. Likely not the chicken Parm. There also will be a kosher takeout market. Zarvalas will be involved as an adviser.
In a conversation Thursday, Zarvalas, who is in his mid-70s, said he and the family were retiring.
The Tavern opened in 1933 as a local watering hole brimming with taxidermy. In a 2003 Inquirer article, Rick Nichols repeated the story that in the late '40s, former Eagles owner Bert Bell - who lived in Narberth - conducted the affairs of the National Football League in an upstairs dining room when he was commissioner.
The Zarvalases ran The Tavern from 1974 until 1997, when they leased it to other restaurateurs, who tried and failed with an upscale beer hall, a fancy steakhouse, and an Italian restaurant. At least parking was never an issue.
In late 2002, the brothers reclaimed their restaurant - calling it The New Tavern and restoring its understated, white-tablecloth approach. The prime rib and snapper soup returned.
They really don't make 'em like Nick Zarvalas anymore. Nichols described the consummate host as "a species of '50s suavity rare outside the flicker of the classic-movie channels."