Hank’s Place Rebuilds After Hurricane Damage in Chadds Ford | Daily News Byte

Hank’s Place Rebuilds After Hurricane Damage in Chadds Ford

 | Daily News Byte

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Photos by Jim Graham

After Hurricane Ida destroyed Hank’s Place, the Chadds Ford establishment is on the rebound, with plans to come back better than ever.

On August 31, 2021, the day before Hurricane Ida destroyed Chadds Ford, employees at Hank’s Place put away high chairs, tables and whatever else they could manage. That night, although it was only raining, an NBC10 van was stationed in the parking lot, an ominous sign for what was to come.

Hank’s Place owners Katie and Anthony Young checked the rain gauges for the Brandywine River, then headed home. When PECO Energy called to say it was cutting power lines above Hank’s Place, the Youngs knew they were in trouble. The river will rise more than 21 feet, the highest level on record. Inside the beloved restaurant, everyone was left floating in more than seven feet of water.

Now, there is only a smelly shell of decaying wood. “It was a tsunami,” Katie said. “Not really, but that’s what I call it.”

More than a year later, the waterline is still visible under the hanging baskets above the restaurant’s entry ramp. Plants grow in ditches, and carefully maintained feed-trough planters recovered from Route 1 after the storm remain untended. Three storage trailers sit in the parking lot. “That night, we were in shock,” Anthony said. “Once the gas was turned off, we finally got in—and that was the ‘oh shit’ moment. Fish swim around with unrefrigerated food. There was the delicious ripe smell of Brandywine in our dining room. What a beautiful river—all the way to your dining room.”

Hank’s Place Rebuilds After Hurricane Damage in Chadds Ford

 | Daily News Byte

Hank’s Place owners Katie and Anthony Young stand over the gutted remains of the Chadds Ford eatery.

The Youngs purchased Hank’s Place in May 2017 from Peter and Voula Skiadas, owners for 16 years. It’s been around since 1950. Under the Blue Door Hospitality Group moniker, the Youngs are committed to rebuilding the local landmark, named decades ago by proprietor Hank Shupe. Within a year, they had overcome friction from neighborhood opponents, township bureaucracy and other challenges. The process must revolve around a historic architectural review board, sewer, zoning and planning commissions and a board of supervisors. All stages are full of potential pitfalls.

The couple has also moved to another location in Kennett Square. Hank’s on Birch (formally the Birch Inn) is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. They hope to offer dinner by 2023. “It gives us an opportunity to give back to our staff,” Katie said.

For the past year, a township-issued special events permit allowed a for-hire food truck in Hank’s parking lot, but only Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “I need a permit to operate on my own property,” said Anthony, a career chef, adding with more than a little sarcasm, “It’s been my lifelong dream and ambition to run a food truck.”

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