Frankford Avenue possesses an embarrassment of riches when it comes to culinary options, running the gamut of cuisines and price points. This is quite the change from, say, a decade ago, when the corridor was rather depressed and featured an embarrassing quantity of vacant lots and crumbling warehouses. The image that follows shows 1528 Frankford Ave. from less than a decade ago, and provides a useful and timely example of what we’re talking about.
As you might expect, the building has changed considerably since this image was current. Roughly five years ago, we brought the property to your attention, noting that the facade was missing, with only a tarp covering the front of the building. New owners had stepped in, and we were hopeful that the building would either get demoed and replaced, or renovated into something more conducive to a successful commercial corridor. It didn’t take long for the owners to slap a new facade on the building, and create a large commercial space on the first floor and some professional space on the second floor. A couple years back, a joint venture between Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy fell through, and the building continued to sit vacant. Then, earlier this year, we learned that a Levantine restaurant called Suraya would be opening in the large retail space. Today, they opening their doors. At least in part.
As we told you previously, Suraya is divided into three concepts. In the front of the restaurant is a cafe/market which opens daily at 7am and offers counter service through the early afternoon. The bulk of the space is a dining room with seating for roughly a hundred people which is used as cafe seating during the daytime hours. As the day moves along, the dining room converts to a sit-down restaurant, serving higher end interpretations of the foods offered during the daytime. The rear of the business is an outdoor space, which we believe will focus on drinks. Thus far, the cafe/market is the only part that’s operational, with the restaurant set to open in the new year. We believe the outdoor space will be activated sometime this spring.
We were in the neighborhood and visited the restaurant today, and we’ve gotta tell ya, it’s a really handsome space.
When La Colombe opened on Frankford Avenue a few years back, we commented that their cafe was the kind of place you’d bring someone from out of town to show them something cool that Philadelphia has to offer. We’d say Suraya is the same kind of place. When you go, we recommend the zaatar and cheese man’oushe. Holy smokes, it was delicious.