Dan Morris (left), Carlos Castillo (center) and Dave Everitt have made sure that Doc Magrogan’s appeals to the professional and the student crowds from Penn and Drexel.

By Theodore N. Beitchman

Hang a right off south 34th Street past Penn’s Law School and you’re on one of the most vibrant blocks for food and drink in all of Philly.

It’s chock-a-bloc with shops like the Penn Book Center and Avril 50, without question the best magazine shop in town, and lots of people sitting at sidewalk tables in the early autumn sun.

Keep walking west till you get to 3432 and you realize:

This is the place!

For more than 40 years, it was La Terrasse, the cutting-edge restaurant with the live tree in the middle of the dining room (really!) that held out against the Penn barbarians at the gate who back in the 1970s wanted to knock down the entire block and put up a parking lot!

Since 2013 it has been Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, and the design and menu changes are as stark as the difference between Joni Mitchell and Lady Gaga.

Where La Terrasse fancied itself a brasserie, Doc’s serves “fresh sustainable seafood” with an extensive raw bar.

And while its predecessor had a wooden bar with a dark and sometimes forbidding, 1960s ambience, Doc’s has a much more modern look and feel that is welcoming without being garish.

Oh, and the new management, several of whom once toiled at the late Smith & Wollensky on Rittenhouse Square, have made a special effort to go after the sports crowd.

“We had a much better summer than we anticipated,” says beverage manager Dave Everitt, one of the Smith alums. “It’s traditionally slow on campus but we marketed a bit and got lots of kids.”

The key to Doc’s business is to combine the professionals who teach and administer at Penn and neighbor Drexel during the day and early evening with a younger crowd at night and on the weekends.

And sports is a big attraction.

“We have four TVs,” Everitt says. “But we will have more soon. Now we have one in the back room and four at the bar. You can see a game from any seat in the house.”

The Eagles’ first exhibition game against the Ravens in August was a good test run for the Doc’s staff. Lots of folks poured in to watch the Birds win and they were supplemented by many who were attending a benefit for the Marine Corps Law Enforcement, which by the way raised more than $3,000.

The staff was stretched but the service was seamless, with Everitt and general manager Carlos Castillo hustling the food and drink along with servers and bartenders. Director of operations Dan Morris was also in tow and many of their former Smith & Wollensky patrons came the mile west to watch the opener.

As you would expect from an oyster house, 90% of the Doc’s menu is made up of seafood, but Castillo says, “We are going to be adding a lot more steak and other meat choices very soon.”

Eagles fans get a break too:

All you can eat wings for $9.99.

And in keeping with the Yuengs and Wings offer: $3 for a 16-ounce Yuengling draft and $5 for a 23-ouncer.

Doc’s also has a solid crew of bartenders who know their drinks and know their sports.

Young John Cavanaugh keeps the beer and banter flowing, especially if the subject is his beloved Notre Dame. He’s a subway alum, that group of Irishmen who didn’t attend that small Indiana school but whose roots attracted him to the Fighting Irish.

And if he looks familiar, that’s because he cut his teeth in the bar business at 2312 Garrett in his native Drexel Hill.

For a fine dining spot, Doc’s won’t hurt your wallet.

Most entrees are reasonably priced, and I had a terrific salmon sandwich with a boatload of fries for about $10.

The crowd is youngish and well-behaved, unlike some spots where football is on the menu along with wings and things, and the attitude is decidedly customer-friendly.

Doc’s has even teamed with the other spots on the block like the White Dog and the River Deck to work with the Penn athletic department on specials that will attract students and alums back to the street that was hopping back in the day when the Quaker basketball and football teams were riding high.

Now, if only Doc’s could inspire the Penn football and basketball teams to recapture those glory days of the 1990s!

That would be a true Miracle on 34th Street!

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