Iron Hill Ardmore Preview: Story Behind the Location's Jeff Schaller Mural

A happy woman raising a mug, a friendly face pointing to “Beer on Draught,” an iron—of course—but, wait: is that a classic car front and center in the new mural set to grace Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Ardmore? You betcha, and there’s a great story to go with the artwork.

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Whether it’s local lore or local flavor, you’ll find a hint to it in our murals, designed by internationally acclaimed artist Jeff Schaller. You’ve no doubt spied the following in our eye-catching art while enjoying a beer at our restaurants:

Next up: Ardmore, set to open later this year on the property that used to be home to the Autocar factory. Born in Pittsburgh in 1898 as the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company, it was cranking out horseless carriages that evolved into cars, trucks and tractors.

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Production moved to Ardmore in 1900, and for many years was Lower Merion’s major employer. The factory and its workers have a storied past, including converting its operations during World War II to support the war effort. The property survived significant fire damage in 1954, the same year White Motor Corporation bought the company. White was acquired by Volvo Trucks in 1980, and then sold to GVW Group in 2001, yet three models of Autocar trucks still are being manufactured.

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“Finding that spot in Ardmore was serendipitous,” said Iron Hill President Kevin Finn. “We’ve been looking at Ardmore for a while, and it’s a great site with good parking across the street. We heard about Autocar, did some research and it was a natural for Jeff to incorporate it into the mural.”

How Jeff became the artist to create the visual centerpiece for our restaurants is a bit of kismet, too. During an art show in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, Jeff met an architect who mentioned Iron Hill was looking for something “new and jazzy” to grace the walls. That lead to a chance meeting with Iron Hill’s Brand Manager Susan Finn, and the rest was almost history.

“I pretty much hounded Sue until she called me back,” Jeff laughed. “And then it just took off. I used the existing murals with showing the landscapes as a backdrop and started working in the local angle. As an artist, it made sense to come up with a formula to weave into the brand.”

This whimsical imagery takes Jeff a month or two to create. He works in a mix of acrylic and—for the iron, for example—silkscreen plus acrylic. All that’s transported to the soon-to-be restaurant near the end of construction. Jeff installs each mural personally.

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“Everyone at Iron Hill is so easy to work with,” Jeff added. “I appreciate that we hand-craft a mural for each restaurant. It underscores the brand message of delivering fresh, handcrafted and made-from-scratch products.”

Our customers will begin to see Jeff’s unique style incorporated more into the brand. It already graces beer labels and t-shirts, and soon you’ll see his original designs illustrated on the kid’s menu and on the cover of our new menus.

“It’s great to have Jeff as part of our brand,” Kevin said. “We love having a local artist tied into what we do. It’s important to us to keep it local. And Jeff’s become a friend, too.”

See how this creative collaboration began, and make sure to keep an eye out for Ardmore’s grand opening. Meanwhile, visit an Iron Hill near you and check out Jeff’s work on our walls.

With 10 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Nina Malone.

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