Little Home Appears at 20th & Kater as Bedford Cafe Saga Finally Comes to a Close

As it has gentrified over the years, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood has become a bedroom community, of sorts, for downtown Philadelphia. Historically, and similar to other South Philly neighborhoods, there were numerous corner commercial establishments in Grad Hospital, but as the years have rolled along, we’ve seen quite a few buildings shift from mixed-use or commercial to fully residential. The latest disappointment was on 22nd Street, where an old laundromat has gone away, with plans to replace it with a quadplex, and a mixed-use corner store is currently being torn down, with future plans unclear at this time.

But today we’re looking back much further, into the early part of the decade. Back in the day, there was a two-story luncheonette at 609 S. 20th St., and that restaurant closed down around 2007 or 2008, if memory serves. The restaurant had a tiny footprint, with a counter service kitchen and a few tables on the first floor and some more tables upstairs. Given the small size of the property, sitting on a 542 sqft lot, this place made the best possible use of their little space.

So it was surprising, in 2011, when we learned about plans from the owners of Pub & Kitchen to open a new bar/restaurant called Bedford Cafe at this location. It’s obviously very tough to make money in the restaurant business, but with just a couple dozen seats in the proposed restaurant, we were uncertain as to how they were going to make it work. Nevertheless, we were excited about the potential for a renewed corner commercial use at this property, and the project sailed through SOSNA and got a variance. Some near neighbors were not so excited, however, and appealed the variance and eventually bought the property themselves. In 2012, we told you that said neighbors were planning to build a home here and we were quite bummed that another corner commercial space would disappear in this neighborhood. But then nothing happened for years- so we held out hope that maybe we’d see some retail here, someday.

In the past

Alas, not so much. The old building finally got torn down in the last couple months and at this point a new home has already been framed out in its place. As we noted previously, the lot is very small, so the home has a very small footprint. But hey, someone built and sold a home on a 333 sqft lot at 21st & Webster and given that this place is being built by right and will therefore have a small rear yard, it will have a similar footprint.

Current view
View in the back

Again, we’re bummed that there’s not a bar here, but it’s easy for us to say, since we don’t live in the immediate vicinity and wouldn’t have to deal with the resulting noise or traffic. And certainly, if a retail use wasn’t going to happen, we’re glad to see a new home here instead of a vacant building. And we always enjoy a tiny new home. As for the P&K people, don’t worry about them- they moved on and eventually opened another spot in a larger space at 22nd & Spruce. And that one didn’t require any new construction or ZBA machinations.