Mini restaurant boom underway in Mt. Airy

Get ready to chow down, Mt. Airy! This autumn, seven new food establishments are open or will be open. Most of the new additions will fill several vacancies along Germantown Avenue.

The newest addition is the Mt. Airy Cafe , located at 7163 Germantown Avenue. The space shares the kitchen with the 7165 Lounge and has just opened for business, serving up a limited menu of pub fare that includes some vegan-friendly items.

Owner, Lamar Redcross explained that opening the cafe enables him to provide a “continuity of hours”, which had been difficult to achieve with massive space of 7165 Lounge, which he also runs and which is used primarily for special events.

The Mt. Airy Cafe will be open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., and Wednesday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. On Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, the cafe will be open at varying hours coinciding with the scheduled special events at 7165 Lounge, which patrons may join in on free of charge.

Situated at the rear of the Mt. Airy Cafe is the Obama Boutique. Here, event organizer Everett Staten has set up a pop up store which sells Obama campaign merchandise. Staten will also be partnering with the Mt. Airy Cafe and 7165 Lounge to bring four debate watching parties to both restaurant spaces, as well as an election night viewing event. All will be free admission to the public. Staten hosted similar election-related events in Mt. Airy four years ago. The energy at debate parties “is almost like being at a sporting event,” Staten exclaimed.

Poquito Jaime’s

This week the neighborhood will finally taste Poquito Jaime’s Southwestern Cafe. The Mexican food-inspired restaurant will open at 11 a.m. Wednesday at 6734 Germantown Avenue, taking over the space from the recently closed Wired Beans Cafe. Owner, Jimmie Reed, is also co-owner of Little Jimmie’s Bakery Cafe just a few blocks away and will remain its main baker. Reed said he has always wanted to open a southwestern cafe and that Poquito Jaime marks “the second phase in my life.” He has hired four people – all Mt. Airy residents – to work at the restaurant.

The Personal Chef

The Personal Chef Market, located at the former Groben’s Seafood at 6833 Germantown Avenue, will open its doors in a soft opening this week. The owners, husband and wife team, Matthew and Sharon Pierce have been operating The Personal Chef, Customized Catering & Design from Quinton, New Jersey for the past nine months.

The market will offer “mostly seafood” take out items, such as fish hoagies, shrimp burritos and crab cake sandwiches, explained Sharon Pierce. There will also be desserts for those with a sweet tooth. A Saturday brunch will be served once a month. Other than the brunch, there will be no on-site dining, as the couple will primarily use the property’s seating area as rental space for private parties and catered events. Matthew Pierce said they plan on hiring four to five students from the Philadelphia Job Corps to provide them on-the-job training and, hopefully, a meaningful vocation.

The Pierces say they want to build on Groben’s legacy “with a little twist.” The two began their catering business after years in the restaurant business and receiving numerous prods from the church community they have served. “We had been fighting it,” Matthew Pierce recollected. The husband and wife team had been content to continuing only serving food at church, but decided to take a leap of faith when they both came to feel they were being directed on a path chosen by a higher power. “God put a pastry chef and a chef together. We were meant to do this,” Sharon Pierce exclaimed.

The catering operation began in New Jersey, but working events in Northwest Philadelhia introduced them to the area. Eventually, a friend contacted them about the vacancy at Groben’s. The Pierces said they will light the old Groben’s neon sign each night in tribute to the long-time neighborhood establishment.

Opening later this fall

Juice Room

Juice Room co-owner, Malikha Washington said she expects to have all licensing and signage completed to fully open for business by mid-October. Besides fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, Washington said the Juice Room will still serve some ice cream and eventually offer other prepared food like salads and soups. There is now additional seating inside the space for dining, including a small section just for kids. Washington purchased the recently added booths from a Jimmy Buffet restaurant before she even had the space for the Juice Room. “I just thought they were so cool,” she shared.

Currently, Washington’s own art work adorns the walls, but she would like the space to feature local artists in the future. Customers will also be able to enjoy Wifi access. Until the official opening, Washington and partner, Greg Moritz are operating under the old Scoops moniker.

Calypso

Iman Marcano-Sowell, who operates the popular Mini Trini food truck will relocate her Trinidadian food stand Calypso in the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market to Mt. Airy. Calypso will open later this fall in the former Perry’s Private Plates at 7122 Germantown Avenue.

Jyoti

Renovations are still underway at Jyoti. The Indian take-out will fill the void Avenue Bistro left behind at 7220 Germantown Avenue. Anuj Gupta, Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA said his parents, Vijai and Jyoti Gupta, hope to have it open within four to six weeks.

Goat Hollow

The long awaited return of the Goat Hollow Restaurant is expected to take place later this year, possibly by November. Owner Neil Campbell told Newsworks that the restaurant, located at 300 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue, obtained its liquor license this summer. Extensive renovations are still on-going.

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