La Colombe Planning Next Generation Cafe and Distillery on Frankford Avenue

La Colombe co-founder Todd Carmichael was raised in Port Richmond and is now an international businessman, as well as the first American explorer to cross Antarctica to the South Pole, alone, on foot, and without assistance, as well as the record holder for the fastest solo expedition to the South Pole. Looking now to trump those Antarctic achievements, Carmichael is now in the beginning stages of creating what he envisions as the next generation American cafe, at 1335 Frankford Ave., two blocks north of Frankford & Girard. The Fishtown Neighbors Association will hear about the proposal at its October 1st meeting.

The buildings

We talked to Carmichael this week about his vision and why he chose Fishtown. Carmichael started La Colombe 20 years ago fueled by a little roastery in Port Richmond, and since then the company has grown into a worldwide gentlemen. The roastery is still there, and the new cafe is a way for Carmichael to bring it all back home.

“They [Fishtown, Port Richmond and Northern Liberties] deserve next generation cafes,” said Carmichael.

The place will be huge and feature a sixty-meter German still on which La Colombe will launch its first forays into selling rum. Carmichael and his partner, Jean Philippe Iberti, have been experimenting with moonshining over the past decade and Carmichael joked that his own home collection of rum might be the biggest in the country.

“It’s designed for people to come and spend the whole day,” Carmichael said about the cafe. “And my office is a couch right in the middle of it… If you’re apartment is too small, come hang out in mine.”

As for the design, it’s a 16K sqft spot that will occupy a string of formerly separated buildings, and will feature “the ultimate neighborhood restaurant,” a little roasting warehouse and the bread that Iberti has been working on mastering the past decade, and that chefs from across the country seek him out for for advice. As for the rum, it will be aged for a year in custom made white oak honeycomb barrels.

“You first think this a f*****g beautiful bourbon,” said Carmichael.

And as for Carmichael, he’s off next to Rome. And then to India, in search of four-year-old aged coffee beans. To keep up with his travels, you can catch Carmichael’s Travel Channel show Dangerous Grounds, which explores how he sources coffee in remote places.

–Lou Mancinelli