Montgomery County Restaurateur Finds Home in Unique Cafés

Van Horn's
Image via Mark Van Horn.
Pork Chop with Lobster Sauce.

Mark Van Horn always knew he’d have a career in food service, and now his career has come full circle in his own restaurants in Montgomery and Chester Counties.

“I’ve been in restaurant kitchens since I was a little kid. My father had a second job as a waiter at the infamous Newtown Squire and wore his tuxedo every weekend, Marks recalls. “Through my eyes and senses, it was an incredible place with the smells, the mere size of the place.”

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve in 1982, Mark remembers the dishwasher staff didn’t show up for work, so my dad calls my mom and says bring Mark in; he has a new job.

“That’s when it started in tenth grade, washing dishes, bussing tables, waiting tables, bartending, food prep,” Mark says.

After a stint at Nifty Fifties, Mark honed in on his cooking skills and worked his way into management, then as a chef. “I had minimal actual cooking experience but had my first child and needed a decent job. I bought the textbook used by the Culinary Institute of America and I really learned how to cook from reading that book from cover to cover,” he says.

Tuna & Avocado Tower

Mark eventually tired of cooking what other people wanted him to cook and “go off-script a little bit.” He answered an ad for a restaurant/bar for rent in Royersford.

Mark had never heard of Royersford before that and the Bealers, the owners of the property lend him the capital to get started. That place became the French Quarter Bistro on Main Street.

“The FQB was my happy place for a long time. I’ve met and fed thousands of people through there over the course of about 18 years. My closest friends I met through the FQB!” he says.

Mark then closed the restaurant and managed the Corropolese Bakery in Limerick. The Corropolese family are great people and their product is the best, Mark says, but he wanted to get creative again in his own space. “I missed coming up with little twists on dishes and I missed cooking for people. It’s what I really live to do!”

Mark opened Curley’s Cue in Spring City with BBQ and pizzas, but closed that location after his lease was up and finding the Phoenixville location, jumping on that opportunity. Mark opened Van Horn’s on Bridge Street in Phoenixville, offering a little bit of everything: Cajun, Italian, some BBQ, even Sunday Brunch.

And so far, Phoenixville has been super welcoming, especially other restaurant business owners. “Currently I am focusing on cheesesteaks and fun combinations like blackened pork chops with lobster sauce and fried burrata. I’m a big foodie,” Mark Van Horn explains.

“I like to mix things up like steak au poivre or blackened chicken and fettuccine Alfredo or Truffle mac and cheese,” he says, “Just fun good food at Van Horn’s like cheesesteak egg rolls.”

Check out Van Horn’s this summer in Phoenixville on Bridge Street.

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