On a spectrum that starts with a vision and ends with reality, Germantown’s Coulter Street Supply Co. sits somewhere in between.
With each passing day, though, Tim Walkiewicz and John Burke inch closer toward a tangible presence which will bring an espresso bar, rotating art gallery and commercial space to Germantown’s western edge.
“We’re hoping our love of traditional espresso and coffee, cycling, sign work, art and design can bring new people into our neighborhood,” said Walkiewicz, “as well as provide some really good coffee to all our neighbors who live and work here.”
In saying that, the thirtysomething Pulaski Street resident spoke of a vision that will see the exterior follow an ICY Signs motif (picture Steve Powers’ “Love Letter Project” art which is visible from the Market-Frankford El in West Philly).
Walking through the covered doors of a shuttered storefront at 233 W. Coulter St., however, he painted a picture of what this former corner store would look like when contractors were packed up and gone.
Walkiewicz described it as “a combined book, art, design and ciclismo store [and] site for a network of connected artists, cyclists, photographers, designer and graffiti writers.”
Sharing that front room will be space for Burke — who lives near Cloverly Park — to host solo shows for “young and established artists from Philadelphia and beyond.”
Both men know, however, that those Supply Co. offerings won’t cover the rent, albeit one made more manageable with buy-in from PhillyOfficeRetail realtor Stan Smith, who stopped by when they showed NewsWorks around the other day.
Local customers and visitors
That’s why the rectangular room behind the entry area will feature, as a centerpiece, a high-end La Colombe expresso machine “set up and built to the specifications of veteran espresso tech” Sergei Trudnowski who also calls this sliver of Germantown home.
Should that eight-seat coffee-bar area attract bicycling visitors detouring off Kelly Drive and Midvale Avenue — along with neighbors en route to work and teachers from nearby schools underserved by way of coffee offerings that leave Walkiewicz pedaling to Manayunk for a quality mug — the pair hopes to create a vibrant addition to an area in need of it.
“It’s a spot we can afford, and we hope the coffee will pay for it,” said Walkiewicz, who has bicycle-messenger roots. “We want to be that bridge that brings people from other parts of town to our neighborhood.
“We want to show people who haven’t been here that, yeah, this area is rough around the edges, but it’s beautiful here. The history, the architecture, the trees, the people. We want to celebrate all of that.”
To hear Walkiewicz tell it, Smith evolved from being a developer who “thought we were a bunch of jokers who just wanted a clubhouse” into a believer.
So much of a believer, in fact, the Coulter Street guys will also help beautify several metal store-front gates along Germantown Avenue.
As he stood in a backyard area in which customers will soon sip their espresso and eat pastries at several tables, Smith didn’t disagree with that assessment.
“They have an energy that I want to support,” he said.
And with that, the soon-to-be business proprietors brainstormed with Smith over diagrams they had worked up to help move the coffee-bar area even closer to reality.
As things stand right now, they plan to open by mid-July.
“People,” said Walkiewicz, “are really coming together in Germantown.”