Serum Kitchen and Taphouse

Serum Kitchen and Taphouse opened last month (April 23, 2024, to be exact) but is already becoming “a must-go-to spot” in West Chester, PA. We recently spoke with owner Ryan Diehl about everything Serum and what excites him about this incredible new eatery.

How would you describe coming to Serum vs. other restaurants in town?

We have an open kitchen concept. You can view the kitchen from almost every seat in the house.  The space itself is very cool, different and unique. With the food, we wanted to add an element of the unexpected. It is a little more than what is commonly expected, especially at these price points. Our chef is really focused on the presentation of plating our dishes; thus, it looks like it comes out of a fine dining restaurant.  A simply beautiful presentation.  We also offer a ‘moosh-boosh’ (a small complimentary appetizer) to start the meal, compliments of the chef, which you don’t often see at this price point.  We are just trying to ‘WOW’ people with every order but still have a very casual vibe.  And we still have simple items like burgers, fried chicken, etc., on the menu as well.
Architectural Drawing of Serum Kitchen and Taphouse Rooftop Location

Do you have any experience in the restaurant business?

So we have a brewery (Imprint Beer Company) in Montgomery County (for almost 6 years now).  We obviously know how to make beer.  And we have a little kitchen there.  Kind of a small ‘cantina’.  And we have a retro arcade there, too.  And we decided to veer off and not be so beer-focused. So we started to contract out bourbon, gin, and vodka.  From there, I made some cocktails and sold bottles at Imprint. They have been selling well, and I started seeing the market for that cocktail experience. My wife and I have really gotten into cocktails in the last 2 years.  

What made you choose to open in the heart of West Chester?

We actually looked at a lot of places before COVID, and then we saw this place.  But when COVID hit, we just stopped those conversations in opening up a new restaurant.  But once COVID was over with, we visited this place a few more times, and Scott (Scott Zukin of Zukin Realty) was very open and really was trying to do anything he could to make this spot successful.  I then mentioned the space for rooftop seating and that this space would be crowded and successful. Scott said that would be an easy thing to do!  And now everybody coming in is asking when will the rooftop be open!  The rooftop will be about 1,000 square feet, and that can host up to 49 people.  We are going to have table service and lounge chairs out there.  It’s going to be very comfortable.

You have an extensive menu from brunch, lunch, and dinner.  What seems to be the most popular on the menu?

Our top 5 menu items are steak frites, the fried chicken sandwich, and Ahi poke nachos (with wontons as nachos and an ali sauce). It’s delicious, and a lot of people love it.  And the Pan-Seared Arctic Char, that is really good.  Our Pub Burger with havarti cheese and bacon is a crowd favorite.  Finally, some eclectic things, like fried pickle spears and deviled eggs–which are amazing–people simply love.  We fry the egg, then put the deviled egg part on top of the fried bottom, which is warm and crunchy. 

We are trying to offer good food and good bar food at the same time. 

Our chef was at Wartons for nearly 10 years, so we have fantastic steak frites and NY Strip Steak. If you want fish, we have that too, offering a mouth-watering Salmon Salad. Our menu is extensive, but we make every single item with care.

What is your personal favorite dish(s) from the menu?

I like the Ahi Tuna and the chicken sandwich. And I like our steak a lot. It’s a 14-oz NY Strip that has been aged wet for 28-35 days, and our steak can hang with some of the best steak restaurants around.


I love your drink menu, which includes cocktails, beer, wines, spirits, and mocktails. What do people order most often?

We do a lot of classic cocktails, but we also have a very innovative craft cocktail menu that uses a lot of different spirits, and everything we do is in-house.  All the gins are infused in-house, all the juices are juiced daily, and we make all the syrups. Most of the drinks are made from fresh ingredients.  It’s a scratch bar. We don’t batch anything. That’s kind of our take on everything.  

Our Old-Fashioned is phenomenal and our most popular!    We have a Red Akuma (suntory toki, blood orange, jalapeno, agave & gochujang rim), and people gravitate to that often.  We do a really good Ba Sazerac (george dickel, ansac cognac, demerara, peychauds and angostura bitters, absinthe & lemon oils), Oolong Passion (rum, oolong tea, brûléed pear, passionfruit syrup & osmanthus spray).  We also do a Sir Bergamot, which is delicious.  We use crystal-clear ice; we try to present everything as well as possible.  So it looks good and tastes even better.


What are some of your favorite weekly specials?

We have a really good happy hour and late-night menu. Once the kitchen is really dialed in and our 2 chefs can take a day off, we will.  

We have some menu items in our back pocket that we added just temporarily. We can then bring those items in as features and see how they do and how well we can execute them.  We want to be sure and keep the menu fresh; I like places with 3-4 menu changes a year.  So you should go back to see what those new menu items are, keep the ‘home runs,’ and rotate other items seasonally.  We buy more local produce now that the weather is getting warmer.  You know, heavier menu items are available in the winter and lighter menu items are available during the summer.

Fried Eggs | Serum Kitchen and Taphouse
Classic Cocktail | Serum Kitchend and Taphouse
Wings on a Plate | Serum Kitchend and Taphouse

Do you offer any catering options?

No catering, but our mezzanine space upstairs can comfortably handle a party of 40-70 people.  That includes a private bar and restrooms, and you overlook the kitchen.  So it’s probably the place to sit!  So we are looking to fill a lot more parties.

We also are looking into starting take-out soon with the appetizers and hand-helds.

What excites you about the future of West Chester in the next 5 to 10 years?

We have always been impressed with West Chester. The town has been very focused on making it inviting for the community and businesses. We get hit up several times a week, whether it’s with Downtown West Chester, a blog, or somebody on social media, all asking how we can help you or feature you. We don’t see that in the areas around us (where we live) nearly as much.  

The thing West Chester has figured out (which I’m not sure why other towns haven’t?) is if you really want to make something ‘pop,’ it’s very much a restaurant, beverage forward; it really brings people in.  From that, it allows the other stores, ice cream shops, and everything else to have this activity coming in,  especially on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  You could go to a different restaurant for a few months and not have any repeats for date nights or out with the family!  We are really drawn to that, and I love how they close the streets in the summer.  West Chester feels very fresh and yet old-fashioned at the same time.  

Your closing thoughts?

We are excited that we have a rooftop opening at the end of June or early July. Just in time for summer, and the perfect spot for all the parade routes too!

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