For seventeen years, Tuscany Cafe held down the fort on the southwest corner of W. Rittenhouse Sq. & Locust St., in the 222 Rittenhouse building. Located directly across the street from Rittenhouse Square, this cafe did tremendous business at all hours of the day, and also served as a convenient bathroom stop for many tourists and locals. Tuscany lost its lease a year and a half ago, and the space has been vacant ever since, while the building has undergone a lengthy facade restoration. We heard rumblings that the next tenant would not be a food and drink establishment, and those rumors turned out to be true.
Recently, the commercial space came back to life as Optique, which long had a storefront at 1845 Walnut St., opened in the former Tuscany space. Peeking inside, it seems that they’re only using about 50% of the old cafe.
But what, you may ask, is happening to Optique’s old location? Glad you asked. While coffee is on the outs at the old Tuscany location, it’s now on the way for the old Optique location. This is where New York chain Joe: The Art of Coffee will be making their dramatic entrance into the Philadelphia market. Joe will be one more 3rd wave coffee establishment joining the rapidly maturing Philadelphia coffee scene, and could prove a worthy adversary for La Colombe, located around the corner on 19th Street.
While it’s always nice to see vacant commercial spaces filled in, especially in such well-traveled locations, we have to wonder whether these stores and landlords are getting it backwards. Doesn’t the former Optique location seem like prime retail space, and the current Optique location seem like prime cafe space? Wouldn’t both businesses be better served in the opposite location? Or are we splitting hairs here?