A few months ago, we last updated you on the new OCF Cafe, located at 21st & Fairmount, across from the Eastern State Penitentiary. As we told you then, this new cafe will offer more of the same along with something new and different, compared to the two already existing OCF locations. It will, like its sister establishments, offer high-end coffee and tea drinks, along with tasty pastries. Unlike the other locations, however, the new establishment will have a full commercial kitchen, and will offer breakfast and brunch seven days a week.
Back in September, we predicted an October opening. Obviously, October has come and gone, along with November and most of December. So why the holdup? Most of the delay has had to do with entanglements with L&I and the Historical Commission, due to exterior work that was done on the property without proper permits. Here is a useful before and after photo, to see exactly what’s taken place:
As you can see, the window openings have been expanded to what is quite probably their original size, and the unattractive vinyl windows have been replaced with large plate glass windows with aluminum frames. Garage doors have been installed, which suggest a time in the building’s history when it was an auto garage. Also, the rotting plywood has been removed, revealing hidden lintels and a ghost sign. The existing stucco has been repaired and primed (but not yet painted). Finally, the old, non-conforming handicap ramp has been replaced with a legal ramp, and the entire sidewalk has been replaced.
Because the building is historic, the changes to the facade were required to go before the Historical Commission, a step that owner Ori Feibush neglected to take until after most of the windows were already installed. At this month’s Commission meeting, Feibush apologized for his missteps and attempted to get the Commission’s approval on the changes he had already made to the facade. The application was denied, and Feibush will be working with the Commission in the coming months to come up with an appropriate solution for the facade.
Several near neighbors came out to the Commission meeting to express their displeasure with both the applicant and his design choices for the facade of the building. Interestingly, some in this group, as members of the Spring Garden Civic Association, approved a similar plan (lacking garage doors) from former tenant Mugshots in 2004, which was also supported by the Historical Commission. This plan was never, for whatever reason, implemented, but when Feibush ultimately did apply a very similar aesthetic, the neighbors were curiously apoplectic.
Thanks to an injunction, work has been allowed to proceed and should be completed in the next couple of days. The cafe/restaurant is set to open for business on January 1st, barring any unexpected setbacks. See you there?
Full disclosure: OCF Realty is the parent company of Naked Philly and (duh) OCF Cafe.