Queen Village

Also a nice way to meet all the top pols in town

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen has one of the more accurately descriptive names you'll ever see in the restaurant business. It is indeed on 4th Street, specifically where 4th Street hits Bainbridge at the top of Fabric Row. It's very much a deli, serving gigantic meat sandwiches and baking all sorts of delicious items. And it's also quite famous, having been in business since 1923 and serving as the place to see and be seen by politicos on every Election Day.

And now it's for sale. The business was owned by the same family for its first 80 years until deli vet Russ Cowan purchased it back in 2005. Now Cowan is looking to sell the building and the business for a cool $5M.

Famous 4th Street Deli

According to the listing, the building is over 7,000 sqft in size. The restaurant has seating for 110 which includes the covered side porch. The basement has walk-in boxes and storage. The first floor has all of the restaurant seating, the bakery, and the service counter. Additional bakery and storage space can be found on the second floor, along with three bathrooms, and the third floor is about 2,000 sqft of raw empty space. Whoever purchases the restaurant would get all of the equipment along with the "famous" Famous name.

Have you every dreamed of entering into the deli business? Do you have a spare five million bucks lying around? Do you want to launch your political career from behind a deli counter? Make an offer!

They have a great plan to upgrade this public space

A few hundred years ago, William Penn planned out our "greene country towne" as a grid broken up by five squares. And the core of Philadelphia has pretty much retained that design. But as our city has evolved over the centuries, different spaces have emerged that break away unexpectedly from that grid, sometimes for reasons that are beyond the living memory of most residents. For example, perhaps you've always wondered why Bainbridge Street doubles in width between 3rd and 5th Streets? It turns out that a large market was located here until the early 1900s, when the City removed it because of changing consumer tastes and unsanitary conditions.

GM Hopkins map, 1875

Initially, the City constructed a large green space in its place, but over time the forces of auto-centrism reduced the green space to what we see today, widening the street and creating parking spots on what was once a lovely park space.

We never thought we'd see the day

Over the last week or so, Queen Village has seen two new eateries open their doors, both of which have been a very long time coming. Unfortunately, one of them will likely have a much tougher road than the other. So let's consider the tougher one first, eh?

We first looked at the building at the southeast corner of 3rd & Catharine back in the summer of 2011, when we told you that a software company had moved out of the retail space on the first floor, and we wondered what kind of business would take over. The design of the building doesn't necessarily scream out for retail, but when you consider the fact that Dimitri's and New Wave Cafe also share the intersection, at least the location is quite solid. We'd have argued for a Tiffin location, personally.

By 2013, we'd learned that a coffee shop and crepe place would be opening in the space, even though some of the neighbors weren't thrilled about the concept. That didn't happen until a few months ago. The initial business, Cyber Crepe Cafe, only lasted a few months and has now been replaced by the amazingly named Queen Village Cafe. The new business will take a Turkish angle, and their menu will be growing in the coming weeks. With copious other coffee options in the immediate area, this place will live or die based on said menu, so let's hope it grows quickly.

It can't possibly look any worse!

Queen Village is home to some of the most wonderful architecture in the City, with many beautiful rowhomes and numerous examples of older buildings that have been restored and reused over the years. It's also home to a lousy looking shopping center on the northeast corner of 2nd & Christian that's home to a 7-11, a cleaners, a pharmacy, and a Chinese restaurant. The building sticks out some in Queen Village, looking like it would be more at home in the 'burbs than at this location. Judging from the crapitude of the architecture, we'd guess it was built in the 1970s.

The shopping center today

The other day, a reader brought it to our attention that some permits have been posted to the side of the building which could spell good news for people who never cared for this building. The owners of the property plan to build an addition to this property, with plans calling for two new stories and fourteen apartments. The ground-floor retail will remain. From what we can tell, the project will be entirely by-right.

Not the greatest change in our estimation

The 100 block of Washington Avenue has seen some serious changes in the last few years, with a bunch of new homes rising on the south side (technically on Alter Street but whatever), and a one-story garage on the north side turning into three new homes just last year. We found ourselves on this block earlier today and noticed yet another project, this time of a commercial nature.

New homes on Washington Ave., with one still for sale

The building at 113 Washington Ave. was a Summit Real Estate office for many years, but they've moved deeper into South Philly and now a new business is taking over this one-story structure. The building was previously pretty uninspiring so any renovation effort should be a step in the right direction.