Skip to content

Philly Beverages

The New Neighborhood Haunt

The New Neighborhood Haunt
Walk into Philly Beverages in north Philadelphia’s bustling Brewerytown neighborhood and you’ll find a beer distributor perfectly in tune with the community that surrounds it. With more families and young professionals moving into rowhomes on Girard Ave., Philly Beverages provides a world-class selection of craft beer, above-premium products and a wide array of the hottest hard seltzers in the market.
A strong institution in the community, it might come as a shock to learn that owner Subhash Tehlan opened this store only a little over a year ago. Opening a new business is never easy, much less during the uncertainty of a global pandemic. But Subhash’s passion for the industry, his ability to learn & adapt and his desire to provide the best possible service have all combined to make Philly Beverages a booming success.
Heady Times (HT): How did you come to open Philly Beverages?
Subhash Tehlan (ST): This is my first beer distributor. I used to live in India where I owned a liquor store, so I’ve always loved the alcohol beverage business. When I first moved here, I owned a cell phone business in Norristown while I looked for the right location to open a distributor. It took three years to find the right spot! After getting close to opening in Huntington and Grays Ferry, this location became available and it was the perfect fit.
HT: What was it about this location that put your three-year search to an end?
ST: The neighborhood is great. This was already a beer distributor, but it had been closed since 2016. The previous owner mostly sold 30-packs, but the neighborhood has changed so much since then. Now there are young people and families living here. Those customers aren’t always looking for 30-packs, so we knew we had to provide more variety.
HT: What did you change first when you moved in?
ST: We worked really hard for six months before opening. Everything was changed. We opened the layout of the store, removed the bulletproof glass and made it feel more welcoming. Our cooler doors are brand new, as is the shelving. Early on I was buying mostly larger packs of domestics, but I could tell they weren’t moving as fast as they could, so I went out and saw the neighborhood. I visited all the other businesses on the block – the delis and restaurants and breweries around here. I knew I had to focus on attracting the customers who were frequenting those locations. I started increasing my craft selection, ordering more and more as time went on. Now my craft section is huge, completely transformed. It’s what most of my customers come in for.
HT: How has COVID affected your business and your customers?
ST: As soon as the first shutdowns were announced, we followed all the state requirements. We were only allowing two or three customers in the store at a time, so we had a line out the door. Now, people understand the situation better and we’re allowing more people inside, with masks of course. Early on, customers were buying five cases at a time because they weren’t sure if the state would close down distributors. But people are more comfortable now. We see our regular customers throughout the week. But it’s still all new for us. It’s new for me, new for the other businesses on the block, new for the wholesalers. We’re all working through it together.
HT: How has Origlio helped your business grow?
ST: Our rep, Frank Huynh, was one of the first people to stop by. We were working on the walk-in cooler and Frank saw us through the window. He popped his head in and asked, “Hey, are you guys opening a beer distributor?” [Laughs] He kept coming back and helped us manage everything – the cooler, our shelves, everything. Funny enough, I wasn’t aware of IPAs or hard seltzers. Frank helped us realize how important and in-demand those beverages are. • 2517 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia • 215-910-7548