honey's sit n' eat

We were in Northern Liberties the other day, and spotted an unexpected 'For Sale' sign affixed to the building on the northwest corner of 4th & Brown. For the uninitiated, this is the home of Honey's Sit 'n Eat, one of the most popular brunch places in the city. Their popularity is such that you can forget about getting a seat without a wait on the weekend, and we've even had to wait once or twice on a weekday morn. Yeah, people really like Honey's.

The building

The current owners purchased the property back in the late 1990s, and have tried

to sell it a couple of times since, most recently in 2006. Back then, the brunch craze had not yet infected this particular corner, and the building had last been used as a bakery.

A year and a half ago, we brought you the news that the lease would soon expire for the Dollar General at 23rd & South. Yet with 2012 having come and gone, and over half of 2013 now expired, the store persists, as it has for many years. So... what gives?

Dollar General

Back when we first brought you the story, we wondered about what could ultimately fill this 5,200 sqft space successfully. Commenters suggested restaurant concepts, retail concepts, subdivision of the space, a beer store, a liquor store, and demolition of the existing building and its replacement with a taller mixed-use structure. From what we understand, the reason that Dollar General has remained all these months is that the owners of the property have been unable to find the tenant they want at the price they desire.

Over the years, many readers have asked us about the southwest corner of 23rd & South, which sits adjacent to a triangular mini-park centered around the recently reactivated Catharine Thorn fountain. Right on the corner is a surface parking lot which may or may not have ever been legalized. Along South Street is a building that has housed space belonging to the Newman Galleries, though we've never heard of any exhibits there. And along Grays Ferry is what appears to be a vacant old firehouse. It seems clear that this corner is ripe for redevelopment.

Baby step by baby step, the West Girard Avenue corridor is seeing improvements. In the last couple of years, the opening of a new Bottom Dollar at 31st Street probably represented the biggest addition, but there are plenty of other residential and commercial developments that have cropped up, with several more coming soon.

Bottom Dollar

For example, three new homes are approaching completion on the 3000 block of Girard, around the corner from the new market. Last summer, MM Partners opened Girard Supply Co., a pop-up garden store, on the 2700 block. And Mugshots and Rita's are two newer businesses that have found a way to make it work on the 2800 block for a few years now.

Whenever we've passed by 850 N. 4th St. previously, we wondered exactly what the builders were thinking when they set the homes back so far from 4th Street. Were they offering their buyers a chance for some added privacy? Were they hoping that folks would appreciate what was essentially a giant shared front lawn? Or did they simply not understand why it's a bad idea to waste valuable land in such a hot neighborhood?

In the past

When we passed this address the other day, it dawned on us that the state of affairs here was merely a temporary situation, and that plans apparently always called for four additional homes to fill in the development, which was once called Green Park Court. Two of the final four homes have been framed out of late, with two more sure to come in the near future. And it seems that the builders are different from the guys who built phase one.

As the months have gone by, we've been peeking in the windows every couple of weeks to check on the progress of the new Honey's Sit 'n Eat planned for the northwest corner of 21st & South. Today, we walked by the long-awaited commercial space, and were surprised to see customers inside, chowing down on lunch.

You can't tell from across the street

We stepped inside the new space to take a peek, and discovered a warm restaurant that offers most of the same goodies you can get at the original location in Northern Liberties. It's not quite as cozy as the first location, perhaps due to the higher ceilings and the less-worn-in furniture. But the down home vibe is nearly identical.

Based on the establishment's reputation as well as the packed house on day one, we're comfortable saying that Honey's South Street will be a huge success. It may have taken longer than anyone would have preferred for this new addition to make its way to South Street West, but it won't be long before brunch-loving neighbors are producing the same lengthy wait times on the weekend that Northern Liberties has known for years.

On the plus side, there's a gym on the block. Treadmill while waiting for a huge brunch? Sounds responsible to us.

Developers and members of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association (NLNA) have compromised on a project that will turn a building that some considered a nuisance property into nine residential units.

338-40 Brown St. and 723-25 N. 4th St. most recently hosted Media Bureau, a company that produced film and music as well as hosted some (occasionally loud and very late) showcases. But now they are out, their website leads to nowhere and signs point to more density for the neighborhood that seems to increase its population every time the NLNA zoning committee meets, which is usually twice a month.

Building on the left

This compromise comes after talks between developers and the NLNA following developers’ first presentation in August. At that time a decision was postponed to allow time for developers to create an improved parking plan and a window layout on the east side consistent with requirements of the Board of Building Standards. The developers clearly had some design obstacles to overcome due the the land-locked nature of the building.

It's been two and a half years, but it looks like it's finally going to happen. We last checked in on the Honey's Sit 'n Eat 21st & South location about ten months ago, and from the outside, little has changed.

Current photo

But according to the wise and all-knowing Michael Klein, it appears that the long wait for a second Honey's spot is finally nearing its conclusion. Klein suggests that the restaurant should be opening its doors sometime in January, which would seem to jive well with the increased construction activity we've noticed there in recent months.

Here's hoping that this place finally opens up next month, presenting a new and eager neighborhood with the privilege of waiting on an excruciatingly long line for tasty brunch food. And providing us with an extremely convenient new lunch place!

Last week, we gave you the heads up about the upcoming demolition of the former Pride of the Sea warehouse at 720 N 4th St., across the street from Honey’s Sit n’ Eat. Whelp, demolition has proceeded since then, and the site should be clear in the coming weeks.

A couple weeks back
A few days ago

The plan for this site involves five new construction homes, called Foundry Court. We spoke with the developer, Carol Diament, a realtor who is partnering with Nexus EnergyHomes to build these homes to Net Zero standards. Nexus, a company that's done most of its building in Maryland to this point, will lend their expertise to bring the first truly net zero homes to Philadelphia.

Last fall, we mentioned the Pride of the Sea warehouse at 720 N 4th St., an eyesore across the street from Honey's Sit n' Eat. At the time, the property was still on the market for $795K, though several commenters pointed out that a deal was being worked out for this site, with plans already presented to NLNA.

In the fall

A couple of months ago, this property, which sits on a 6,200+ sqft lot, settled for $700K. And within the last couple of weeks, a fence went up around the property, indicating imminent demolition. We have some additional info for this project that we'll pass along this week, but in the meantime, here's a look at the fence around the warehouse, which is not long for this world.

Five homes, coming soon.