A historic former church on South Clinton Avenue has a new life as a bar, burger joint and retro arcade.
The Playhouse and Swillburger opened about three years ago inside 820 S. Clinton Ave., the newest chapter in the 1890 building’s long history. Originally constructed as the Second German Baptist Church, the building has held various religious congregations, a machine shop and the Rochester Community Players before restaurateurs Jeff Ching and Brian Van Etten purchased it in 2014.
During extensive renovations to create the Playhouse and Swillburger, many of the building’s original design elements were incorporated into the updated space, such as a rose window and balconies. Much of the original layout was kept. The Playhouse’s bar occupies the same footprint as the former RCP stage, and the backstage area is now office space.
The design contributes to the Playhouse and Swillburger’s melding of old and new. The burgers, tater tots and other fare made with local ingredients at Swillburger presents a modern take on the classic American burger joint, while a custom bar and furniture from the Rochester-based Staach design firm joins over 35 arcade cabinets and pinball machines from decades past.