At first, a Germantown espresso bar and art gallery was slated to open in July on a West Coulter Street block where such an operation was least expected.
Then, financial concerns and a broken-up business partnership left the Coulter Street Supply Co. on the brink of fizzling out.
But last week, as he pulled a mask down from over his mouth and took a break from painting Germantown’s “19144” zip code on the side of the building, entrepreneur Tim Walkiewicz said he was confident that espresso would soon be sold on that very spot.
“This is making it feel like more of a reality,” he said, gazing upon the Old English-font numbers amid a blue, red, black, yellow and green motif matching a bicycling-championship display geared toward the bike-messenger crowd he hopes to attract. “I was worried, for sure, when my partner [John Burke] dropped out. It was iffy for a while there.”
The initial vision had a combination espresso bar/art gallery/bookstore vibe.
With Burke’s departure — Walkiewicz termed it “amicable” while Burke cited a dispute over deposits and creative visions — the art gallery is no more. Walkiewicz will still have an in-house shop for books, magazines and the like.
“It will be more of a cafe with more seating now,” he said, noting that the base of the ICY Signs work was painted by his friend Tim Badalucco who grew up in Los Angeles, thus explaining silver-and-black zip-code numbers which mimic the NFL’s Raiders motif.
Concerned, but still supportive
Stan Smith, of Philly Office Retail, will lease the space to Coulter Street Supply Co.
His inspiration for involvement was for neighborhood cleaning and beautification. As part of the lease, Walkiewicz will paint other storefront grates in the area.
Smith noted, however, that the shift in the Supply Co. team gave him pause.
“I’m still supporting it,” he told NewsWorks. “I believe that Tim’s responsible. He came up with a business plan. As community developers, we have to hand-hold [upstart entrepreneurs] sometimes.
“If I don’t do this, we’ll have another nail salon, another barbershop, and we really need something else [in Germantown]. It’s just taking some time to get this up and running.”
To be sure, workers who started fixing up the interior in May have shifted over to other projects in recent months.
For his part, Walkiewicz is confident things are moving forward and that La Colombe will soon be served in southwest Germantown.
As for the rationale behind the zip-code artwork, he said that the initial plan was painting “GTOWN.”
“The Old English [font] speaks to the history of the area. And, it looks tough,” he said. “But the 19144 is for everybody here. People walking by would know exactly what it means.”