It’s good to see folks raised in Philadelphia who are educated at higher institutions outside city limits and then return to their neighborhoods eager to apply their knowledge to improve the scene.

West Philly native Mahari Bailey opened espresso, coffee, Panini and more café Rue 52 a few weeks ago, at 52nd & Larchwood, across from Malcolm X Park in West Philly.

Rue 52

Interior shot

The café represents perhaps a unique addition to the retail mix along 52nd Street. For the unfamiliar, this is the focal commercial thoroughfare in this part of town, surpassing the Baltimore Avenue Corridor, and is referred to by sidewalk plaques as West Philadelphia’s Main Street. A busy part of the corridor includes street vendors. While this was a middle class shopping district in decades past, its condition has deteriorated over the years, with many vacancies and poorly maintained buildings.

Bailey, a Georgetown educated lawyer, acquired the property last year through his company Mahari Yahed Development (MYD), which he founded in 2009. Before that, 503 S. 52nd St. had been a shell for at least five years, according to Bailey. Now it’s a ground-floor retail with 2 one-thousand sqft two-bedroom apartments above.

In the past

“We’re trying to renovate the entire neighborhood and trying to put in vital businesses in the area,” said Bailey.

He’s also opened two locations of The Weave Bar, a hair salon, one at 444 S. 52nd St., another in Germantown. Through Love Real Estate Group, a subsidiary of MYD, he owns various buildings around town, including in Center City, like this Arch Street location.

A real estate company providing capital for opening small businesses sounds like a sustainable model. To our frequent readers, it’s a familiar model too.

–Lou Mancinelli