The Pump House at Pencoyd Landing Is an Elegant New Event Space

Pencoyd Landing in Bala Cynwyd debuts the Main Line region's latest event space, which has a capacity of up to 350 guests.

Pencoyd Ironworks is bustling on a midweek afternoon. Even after the midday lunch rush, you’ll still find patrons at The Landing Kitchen sitting outside and enjoying the sun with a sandwich and a cup of coffee. 170 years ago you could say much the same, but back then its patrons would be hard at work doing manual labor rather than fervently typing away on laptop keyboards.

Once one of the Philadelphia region’s premier manufactories, it was a destination for steamships sailing up and down the Schuylkill carrying widgets and iron to the rest of the nation—and the world—from a seemingly insignificant port in a then-unknown town called Bala Cynwyd.

Over the next century and a half, the ironworks would undergo various transformations, from a World War II arms plant to a car factory. Today it’s home to two restaurants: the aforementioned indoor/outdoor Landing Kitchen and the more upscale Lark, the latter which serves Mediterranean cuisine inside the Marriot Residence Inn. This spring, BE Hospitality, in conjunction with the Penn Group, added a fourth business to the complex in the form of a 12,000-square-foot event space dubbed The Pump House.

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With 12,000 square feet and capacity for 350 guests, The Pump House is the region's latest premier event space. (Photo credit Greg Carno)
With 12,000 square feet and a capacity for 350 guests, The Pump House is the region’s latest premier event space. Photo credit: Greg Carno

With the capacity for up to 350 guests, The Pump House is designed to host galas, corporate events and functions of all sizes. Since hosting its first event, the Thorncroft Equestrian Gala on April 27, the venue has celebrated several weddings and business developments along with a christening and communion.

Transforming Pencoyd Landing

When Lark opened in 2021, it hosted Pencoyd Landing’s events, from rehearsal dinners to bar mitzvahs and weddings. Even so, BE Hospitality co-founders Nick Elmi and Fia Berisha knew that there were bigger things on the horizon.

“We were looking at it like we’re alienating our regular [Lark] customers on weekends. We’d love to have another space where we can do larger events,” Elmi says. “Maybe one-third of [The Pump House] was just kind of shelled out. It was just an open frame and it was kind of beautifully ugly, sitting here in the middle of this industrial site.”

BE Hospitality cop-owners Nick Elmi and Fia Berisha have created a stunning complex at the old Pencoyd Ironworks.
BE Hospitality co-owners Nick Elmi and Fia Berisha have created a stunning complex at the old Pencoyd Ironworks. Photo credit: Brianna Louise Photography

Thus, BE Hospitality brought back Donna Galvin of the Penn Group, a real estate and development conglomerate. After working together to create Lark and The Landing Kitchen, Elmi, Berisha and Galvin have been partners on projects at Pencoyd Landing.

Elmi, a James Beard Award-winning chef, focuses on the dining aspect of their plans while Berisha works on design and Gavin handles construction. Together, they make for a formidable force in the hospitality space. Even so, it wasn’t always certain the projects at Pencoyd would perform as well as they have.

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The Marriot launched in February 2021, followed by The Landing Kitchen that March and Lark in November. If any one of the projects had failed, it could have taken down the others in a domino-like effect. 

Pencoyd Landing isn’t exactly something locals or pedestrians will stumble upon naturally. It’s not easy to access by foot, lying at the bottom of the hill that is Righters Ferry Road on the Schuylkill. You’d have to know where you’re going to find it. In fact, the easiest way to get there by foot is not via Bala Cynwyd, but across the Pencoyd Bridge from Wissahickon.

It’s a minor miracle that all three are performing so well, Berisha observes, adding that “we forget to say that to each other.” To her point, she and her team are so busy they sometimes forget that fact.

Naturally, it’s a weight off everyone’s shoulders that The Pump House has been welcomed with such enthusiasm. Now, BE Hospitality is even looking to hire more staff.

“We’ve gone from zero to 100 employees [since 2021], and we’re looking to continue bringing on employees throughout the summer. We’ll probably be at like 130 by the time we hit September or October,” Elmi shares.

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Inside the Event Space

With five distinct event halls within The Pump House itself, there’s a way for every type of event or gala to go off without a hitch.

The first of the five spaces is The Main Hall, a 4,500-square-foot room with glass windows overlooking the Schuylkill and access to a private garden as well as a second-floor suite that can be used as a green room.

The Bar boasts 30-foot cathedral ceilings like the Main Hall.
The Bar boasts 30-foot cathedral ceilings like the Main Hall. Photo credit: Stuart Goldenberg

The Bar is furnished with antique red pine floors, handmade tiles and a steel staircase that evokes the building’s industrial past. The custom walnut bar makes for the perfect cocktail reception with room for 125 guests.

The Speakeasy is located beneath The Bar in the basement of the old ironworks. Here, an old motor sits against the wall as decoration in this very literally cool room. A moody atmosphere is the perfect vibe for sipping scotch or cocktails in a space that fits up to 60 guests.

The Atrium is the rather dramatic entryway to The Pump House and is drenched in natural light. It connects to the outdoor parking lot and the Schuylkill River Trail at either end.

Finally, The Train Shed is a canopied outdoor gathering space overlooking the banks of the river, the ideal scenic backdrop for an evening ceremony.

Mood and atmospheric, The Speakeasy presents a different vibe than the four above ground spaces.
Mood and atmospheric, The Speakeasy presents a different vibe than the four aboveground spaces. Photo credit: Stuart Goldenberg

Each of the five spaces honors the building’s industrial past with mechanical flourishes, brass details and exposed steel beams while including modern touches like glass walls to allow natural light, state-of-the-art stereo systems, a modern kitchen and more.

The spaces can be rented piecemeal or all at once, with menu options catered to each type of event, whether that be seated, family-style or cocktail reception, using Lark as a culinary extension.

Whether you’re looking for a grand evening beneath 30-foot cathedral ceilings in The Main Hall or a light cocktail reception in The Speakeasy, The Pump House provides guests with a unique experience, one that’s not often found around the Main Line, mixing old industrialism with dignified modernity and honoring a past entirely distinct to Pencoyd Landing.

The Pump House at Pencoyd Landing
615 Righters Ferry Rd., Bala Cynwyd

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