Manayunk’s Saxbys saga opens a new chapter

Bill Hayes of Manayunk wasn’t too fazed when he saw that his go-to coffee spot on Main Street closed unexpectedly last January.

Even though he and his brother, Leo Vincent Hayes of East Falls, were regulars at Saxbys, he wasn’t worried.

“They closed down a year before just up the block, so I figured, that’s what they do, that’s their thing in life,” he joked.

For years, the two men have met at Saxbys for their morning brew a few times each week to catch up and crack jokes on the couches by the front windows.

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“It’s a little more comfortable than the place down the block, and sitting by the windows, we can check out the girls as they go by,” Bill Hayes said with a chuckle.

Now, after three months apart from their beloved Saxbys java, they’re happy to have their spot back at Saxbys.

The coffee bar closed without notice on Jan. 11 to the dismay of some of its employees and customers. The windows were papered up, the locks were taken off of the doors and a sheriff sale sign was posted on the door.

At the time, the franchise’s marketing director said the closing was temporary, to allow for renovations inside. But the Manayunk Development Corporation’s former director of economic development said the shop was closed down “due to legal action from multiple creditors.”

Standing in a suit, sipping coffee inside the recently re-opened location on Wednesday morning, Saxby’s President and CEO Nick Bayer addressed, what he calls, an “unfortunate” situation.

“When we found out that the business was essentially forced to close down, it was a surprising time for us as well,” he said. “We’re not trying to be cryptic or hide anything, we had absolutely no idea.”

When asked if the former franchise owner, Scott Coles, was behind on rent payments at the time, Bayer said, “He’s still sorting that out with the landlord; it certainly does seem to be a component of the complication, yes.”

However, Bayer adds that Coles is no longer involved in the store and that the shop will soon be transitioning into new franchise ownership.

The shop’s current property owner, Eadeh Enterprises, declined to comment on the re-opening. Rich Rivera, partner at Belvedere Business Group and co-owner of the neighboring Main Street Market, followed suit in declining to comment.

Rivera was hoping to expand his business into the Saxbys location after he heard of the closure. But Bayer says that’s not an option.

“We love being here, we love this location,” he said. “We have a long-term lease and we’re gonna be here for a long time.”

The shop also has a few renovations in store. Bayer says the plan is to open up the basement, which would serve as a technology center with extra seating.

“We see that our customers are either students or local small business owners,” he said. “So, we want to build iPads into the tables and have printing stations set up.”

Bayer said he expects renovations to be complete by this summer. No signs of construction work are evident now.

The store re-opened on Tuesday with an energetic staff of former employees and corporate employees. The new faces came as a surprise to the Hayes brothers.

“We’ve been busting on people here for years, now we have to break in a whole bunch of new people,” Bill Hayes said.

The menu has also taken on a bit of a fresh look. Eight new sandwiches and six salads have been added to the lineup in addition to new variations of smoothies.

As for Bayer, he’s looking forward to getting back to business.

“We just love Manayunk and are proud to be a part of this community,” he said. “We’re thankful for our customers being supportive during, and certainly after, the closure.”

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