Ambler offers ample open-air dining opportunities

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“Do you wanna build a snowman?”
Sorry, “Frozen” fans, but no. No one in their right mind should want to see a snowman for another six months, at least.
With the brutal winter and sub-zero temperatures finally in the past, Ambler establishments are embracing the warmer weather and opening season on outdoor dining and drinking.
The town has more than eight restaurants and bars offering a myriad of outdoor seating. There’s 34 East Tavern, with its large outdoor patio that allows the perfect people-watching opportunity along Butler Avenue, or a more intimate dining experience in Dettera’s alleyway seating.

Trax's patio offers an additional 40 seats of open-air dining during the summer. Submitted photo

Trax’s patio offers an additional 40 seats of open-air dining during the summer.
Submitted photo

It’s considerably higher than the options in most other towns in the area; after all, Pennsylvania weather is only friendly to outdoor dining for a few months every year.
“There’s been a revitalization of Ambler with a lot of businesses and restaurants coming in,” Forest & Main Brewing Co. manager Brian Nerney said. “A lot of people want to have these new places popping up, so they’re trying to take advantage of the outdoor dining as much as they can.”
Forest & Main’s outdoor dining area is the first to fill up on a nice night, Nerney said. The brewing company doesn’t allow patrons to nurse a beer outside; the area is exclusively for dining guests.
“The porch is mainly for dining customers due to the fact that we have limited space inside — we want to have as many dinner tables as possible,” he said. “The porch fills up first, so we don’t allow reservations for it.”
With seven tables totaling 22 seats outside, Forest & Main’s relatively small dining area is a hot commodity, Nerney said, adding, “The first round of people through the door on a nice night always end up outside. Now that the weather is getting nicer, we’re making sure it’s open every night we can.”
Chef Steve Waxman at Trax Restaurant and Café has an edge over other restaurants with outdoor seating — his patio is covered, so a little rain will never prematurely end a dinner.
“We have 40 seats out here, but we often bring more seats outside,” he said. “I think it’s great; I’m not sure why people wouldn’t take advantage of it. As soon as it gets nice out, people want to sit outside.”
The large patio also allows Trax to have more flexibility with its evening crowd, Waxman said. A typical Friday and Saturday night inside the restaurant can get crowded and loud; relocating the diners outside makes for a quieter, calmer atmosphere.
“It’s definitely busier in-season with the outdoor dining available,” he said. “We have two levels of dining since we expanded a couple of years ago, when SEPTA finished off the covered walkway. It gave us a lot more seating.”
And after four months of only spotting neighbors when they’re shoveling snow and digging out their cars — or maybe building a snowman — Waxman said the outdoor dining affords the opportunity to remember how vibrant and radiant Ambler is.
“We always get a good crowd, and it’s fun to see everyone outside,” he said. “It shows people being out and about; it shows the town being alive.”
Follow Erin Weaver on Twitter @ByErinWeaver.

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