Sometimes you find a vocation and sometimes, a vocation finds you. For those lucky few, enjoying what they do is very evident to the people around them. I was lucky to find some folks that like what they do and do their best to share their passion with everyone.
We were invited to The Peanut Bar & Grill in Royersford recently by Joann DeFrencisco of 513 Entertainment and owners Duane and Donna Norris. I have been listing The Peanut in WTIM for quite a while but had never visited or driven by to check it out. After saying I would visit, I checked the location and found that this venue was located in a mall off Lewis Road in Royersford. Not being one for crowds and/or the close quarters that the location seemed to promise, I steeled myself to throttle my claustrophobia and make the best of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
While we were lucky to have a smiling entertainment person waiting for our arrival, the pleasant outside of this venue would have drawn us in on it’s own. Walking through the door takes you into a very nice space, the atmosphere is very casual and comfortable. In fact, I kept waiting for someone to yell “Cliff” or “Norm” at people coming through the door. After admiring the beautiful hand refinished bar, the rest of the good sized room came into focus, as did the smiling and hustling wait staff. Why are they all smiling? The answer is easy, because the owners are smiling.
Sitting down with Duane and Donna was like sitting down with old friends to catch up. The conversation was fast and easy. Duane and Donna have lots of experience in the bar/restaurant business and found The Peanut irresistible. A total rehab of the building was needed, and after remodeling and refurbishing The Peanut Bar & Grill opened for business. From it’s inception, live music was on the short list of things to have at The Peanut and Duane had this to say about that:
“I did bookings years ago, I had a place in upstate New York and I did all right, but here, I don’t have the time and I don’t know the bands around here, so it was the ONLY smart move to get someone in here who knows.” That is where Joann DeFrancisco and 513 Entertainment comes in.
“My career really kicked into high gear when I met Duane and Donna,” said Joann. “It was a big leap of faith, they gave me the trust to bring bands in, sometimes they just take my word on them.”
Apparently it’s working. Every weekend there is a band on The Peanut’s stage. Right now, this area is a place bands want to be.
“We’re bringing bands in from Jersey and the Reading areas,” said Joann. “There are a lot of bands interested in gaining exposure in this area, but so much depends on how the band presents itself. We are willing to take some risks with bands that don’t necessarily have a local following.”
This night, a Jersey band was on the docket. Playing mostly 90s genre music, Sanctuary made me remember some things from a decade I somehow forgot. I did, however, find myself singing along quite a lot. I didn’t recall the Refreshments, but I do remember singing along to their song “Banditos” and laughing at the lyrics then too.
“We try to mix it up,” Duane said. “Seventies and 80s are great, but we have people that like 90s and the newer stuff, not that they wouldn’t listen to the other stuff.”
“If you don’t stay open to all genres of music, you may miss an opportunity or something special,” added Joann.
Summing up her goals for 513 Entertainment in general, Joann said, “I love music, my life revolves around hearing music constantly. I am very passionate about good music, my mission is to keep good live music alive!”
And for The Peanut Bar & Grill in particular she adds, “We want to build the reputation that every weekend you can come into The Peanut and hear top bands, without exception!”
Noting the year round music schedule, Duane Norris said, “I’m a stickler for consistency. I want my customers to be able to find something good here every week. It’s taken a little time, but it’s working.”
Judging from what we saw, it’s not only the entertainment that is bringing folks in the door; the food is working too. My quesadillas rocked! The Peanut’s menu has something for everyone from bar fare up to the scrumptious looking mussels over pasta (OMG, so good). My favorite treat encountered at The Peanut? The CORN FRITTERS! Fresh, hot corn fritters topped with powdered sugar! These are worth WALKING to Royersford for.
Donna Norris smiled when talking about the corn fritters: “We needed a signature something.” Donna, you nailed it.
The night flew by with good conversation, good music and great food and drink. Over the din, I asked Duane what the best thing is about being a live music venue? His simple answer says it all: “Just watching everybody having fun!” Amen.
What’s coming up at The Peanut? Hold onto your hair weaves as the one and only Van Halen Nation hosts a no-holds-barred Halloween party, Oct. 31 at 9:30 p.m. If you were one of the lucky ones at the car show in Collegeville back in August, you got a sneak peek at this rocking band. Take my advice on Halloween night and get there early, or better yet get your tickets at The Peanut in advance! There is something else BIG in the works for summer. It’s not quite ready to be announced, but we will have it here in WTIM when it is!