Imagine showing up for work the day after you’d been promoted only to find your workplace abandoned and a sign slapped on the door saying: “SHERIFF SALE: 12 p.m.”
It’s a bad dream that came true for Isabel Gruenberg on Tuesday, when she arrived at Saxbys Coffee on Main Street in Manayunk. It should have been her first day as shift supervisor.
“The store was shut down, locks were taken off the doors, it was papered up and it was just over, it was done,” Gruenberg said with a hint of a smile and a shrug.
Gruenberg said she knew the shop was having financial issues but never imagined it would close.
“It was a really big shock,” Gruenberg said. “A lot of our employees are students and this is our main source of income, and we didn’t even get a call from our boss that it was done.”
Scott Coles, owner of the Manayunk Saxbys franchise, did not return a call for comment, but Lauren Stevis, marketing coordinator at Saxbys’ headquarters in Conshohocken, says it’s just a temporary closure.
“We are doing minor renovations inside and expect to be back no later than the beginning of February,” Stevis said.
Garrett Elwood, director of economic development at the Manayunk Development Corporation, says that’s not the case.
“The Manayunk Saxbys franchise location was closed due to legal action from multiple creditors,” Elwood said. He said the owners of the market next door were already considering expanding into the space.
Richard Rivera, partner at Belvedere Business Group and co-owner of Main Street Market, says his company is in negotiation with the building’s owner, Eadeh Enterprise, for a lease to expand its business into the neighboring space.
Calls to Eadeh Enterprise and Neduscin Management, were not returned. Todd L. Baritz, the lawyer listed on the sheriff sale notice, also did not return a call for comment. The Philadelphia Sheriff’s office has no listing for the Main St. property on its website.
As for Gruenberg, she’ll still be able to save up to go to Montgomery County Community College in the spring. On the day of the Saxbys’ closure, Rivera offered her a job as a cashier at the market.
Wednesday was her first day.
“It’s been fine,” Gruenberg said. “I get to see the reactions of all the people as they walk by and all my regulars have been coming in to ask me what’s going on.”
Those bewildered regulars are not alone. Many Main Street shoppers stop to stare in disbelief that the busy neighborhood coffee shop vanished less than one year after opening.
Gruenberg is appreciative of her new gig selling apples, fresh flowers and milk at the market, but she can’t help but wonder exactly what happened next door.
“We had customers, so I thought things were normal, we were fine,” Gruenberg said. “There was no way we would have known.”
NewsWorks will follow this story and provide more details as they become available.