For weeks, Tim Walkiewicz suspected his plans to bring an espresso bar to West Coulter Street were in jeopardy. By last Tuesday, a phone call had settled it: The project was dead.
Finances were certainly an issue. Walkiewicz never had any seed money for the Germantown business. He said he planned to pay rent by hand-painting custom designs on a series of metal roll-down grates in the neighborhood.
Dozens of photos of potential locations were snapped in an area just south of the neighborhood’s commercial heart at Germantown and Chelten avenues.
Stan Smith, of Philly Office Retail, which leased the corner space to Walkiewicz and a since estranged business partner, would commission the outdoor artwork.
“This is out of pocket,” said Walkiewicz. “This is his personal project. This something that he wanted to do.”
Things fall apart
The art effort just barely got underway before, as Walkiewicz tells it, disputes over cost and design caused the pair’s already icy relationship to freeze over. They haven’t spoken in weeks.
One of Smith’s associates broke the news to Walkiewicz that Philly Office Retail wanted to “sever ties.”
For Walkiewicz, seeing his concept for Coulter Street Supply Co. – which also featured an in-house book shop – crumble apart after seven months was disappointing to say the least.
He was excited about bringing a brand new kind of business to a neighborhood that, he said, suffers from a lack of risk-taking entrepreneurs and property owners willing to support them.
Not much espresso in Germantown
“I really like this place. I loved the neighborhood. I think it was perfect for it, but at a certain point I can’t keep going. I tried really hard to make it happen,” said Walkiewicz.
Citing a non-working relationship with Walkiewicz, Smith declined several requests for comment.
In mid-August, Smith told NewsWorks that he still supported the business despite Walkiewicz’s dissolved business partnership, a result of creative differences, among other things.
“I’m still supporting it,” said Smith at the time. “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 time to get this up and running.”
Coulter Street Supply was originally slated to open in July.
Walkiewicz will leave behind a pair of hand-painted murals meant to welcome future customers to the shop, but he’s not willing to give up on the concept. He’s already started looking for a new space.
“This is where I live and this is why I’m doing it. That’s the whole point of this,” the Germantown resident said. “I started this, I have to finish this.”