As has been reported by everyone in town to this point, Bindi, the not-even-four-year-old BYOB whose Indian fare had been a favorite of ours, closed a couple of months back. The space, still controlled by Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney, co-emperors of 13th St., is currently being transformed into Jamonera, a Spanish wine bar.
If you didn’t already know, Safran and Turney have taken over the formerly seedy block of 13th St. between Sansom and Chestnut Sts. and created a mini-empire in less than ten years. Open House, the couple’s first establishment on the block, opened in 2002 at a time when we convinced that Tony Goldman was insane and that Trust was doomed to fail (in our defense, El Vez took over that space in short order). At Grocery, they offer a gourmet corner market and a successful catering operation. Verde is a flower shop, gift shop, and features an artisanal chocolate shop on the premises. Lolita, the BYOT Mexican joint, has a New York vibe that Penn graduate students can’t get enough of. We’ve been trying to get a table at Barbuzzo forever and you probably have, too. And now, here comes Jamonera.
But why close Bindi? Safran explained to Foobooz that operating a BYOB ain’t easy, running a cash-only restaurant creates more problems than you might think, and perhaps most importantly, not enough people dig on Indian Food as was needed to make the business successful. Safran and Turney considered adding a liquor license to the mix at Bindi, but didn’t see the value in propping up a business with limited upside. With Spain a regular vacation destination for the couple, the Spanish wine bar concept seems to make plenty of sense.
With Jamonera on the horizon, we wonder what magic Safran and Turney will have up their sleeve next. If history is any indication, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.