Robert Wheeler is all too familiar with the culture that now pervades Germantown’s commercial corridors. He grew up in the neighborhood and is dissapointed that Chelten Avenue has become “a prison with shutters, improper lighting and no benches.”
But the 37-year-old owner of Wired Beans Café also knows that the neighborhood was not always like that. He remembers when Germantown was a premier shopping destination in the city. He hopes the opening of his second café inside Chelten Plaza at Chelten and Pulaski avenues will help Germantown return to those roots.
“I don’t think there are a whole bunch of community-friendly places in Germantown,” said Wheeler. “Everything is more like you come in, you buy something and you go, but we want to be that community-friendly place where we are constantly adjusting to what the community wants and we have a relationship with the community.”
With more fast food restaurants and dollar stores than actual meeting spaces, Wheeler hopes his Germantown location will serve as a “third space” for the neighborhood’s large professional, student and commuter populations.
To that end, the store has a lounge area that includes bar stool seating, two sofas, love seat and chairs. Work by local artists will also hang on the walls with historical photographs of the community. The latter will appear thanks to Historic Germantown.
Wheeler hopes the comfy atomosphere will be used for various community events. In the future, he would also like to have outside seating on Chelten.
A welcoming environment
Wheeler approached his newest location with the same passion and foresight he did with his first in Mount Airy in 2010.
His guiding principles for running a small business: building relationships and creating intimacy.
“Somebody can do something wrong one time and [the customer] will never come back, but if I am here and you develop a relationship with me and then I am not here it’s like, ‘you know what Rob wouldn’t do that that way,” said Wheeler.
Similar to the Mt. Airy shop on Germantown Avenue, the small café will serve sandwiches on Baker Street bread, an assortment of cookies and lemon cake and a large assortment of beverages
Wheeler noted that a welcoming environment will also be available, which he said enables different people from all walks of life to instantly feel comfortable.
Geared for people on the go
Wheeler realizes, though, that everything that worked in Mt. Airy is not going to work in Germantown.
One of the biggest changes will be the inclusion of prepackaged wraps, sandwiches, salads and fruit cups that will be made at the store to accommodate commuters.
“We make great food, but we have to be more productive and much faster and get people in and out that want to catch the train or catch the bus,” said Wheeler.
The store will also use an iPAD for its point of sales system.
The grand opening will be on July 14 with appearances from Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Chelten Plaza developer Pat Burns, and several community groups that were instrumental in the construction of the newly erected strip mall.
The location will have its soft opening on June 30. It will be open Monday through Sundy from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.