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Michael Schulson opens Independence Beer Garden

Chef Michael Schulson is right. People in Philadelphia are always looking for an outdoor space to drink, eat and have fun with friends. Now, there's another option and it's bigger and more permanent than any pop-up bar you'll find in the city.

Schulson's Independence Beer Garden — 20,000 square feet of picnic tables, bars, fire pits, games and more — opened to the public on Tuesday. But don't worry, it only sounds huge.

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"It doesn't feel enormous because you're in your own element of time here," Schulson said.

What the restauranteur of Sampan and Graffiti Bar means is that you're not sitting outside of a cafe or on a bar stool the whole time. You can play ping-pong, watch the Philies game, sit in an oversized Adirondack chair with friends and maybe next year, you can even bowl.

"We're already talking about a cool, old-school bowling alley," Schulson said. "Every year, it's just going to evolve."

But for now, Schulson is excited about the opening. The Independence Beer Garden opened at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and was crowded immediately, he said.

"It's a Tuesday, there's a monsoon out there, and it's completely packed. It's great," he said, adding that 70 percent of Independence Beer Garden is under a roof.

The garden is open daily at 11 a.m. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday. The bar however stays open each day two hours past the kitchen closing time.

"Top Chef" alum Travis Masar created the menu that Schulson said is delicious and simple. What was popular on Tuesday? Sausage and peppers, chicken wings and speciality drinks with beer in them.Groundswell Design Group and Schulson collaborated on the design.

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