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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Building owner presents loose plan for restaurant across from fountain at 1535 S. 11th St.

Both the building owner and architect of a potential restaurant project across the street from the fountain at 1535 S. 11th St.  gave an information-only proposal last night at the Passyunk Square Civic Association’s zoning committee meeting. Their plan is to develop the currently vacant property between Fond and Da Vinci’s into a sit-down eating establishment, likely a BYOB, and convert the second and third floors into a bilevel apartment with a roof deck.

But what kind of restaurant? They still don’t know.

That one in the middle there

That one in the middle there, in a picture from February. The only difference is those sale signs are gone.

Behind the plan is property owner Kevin Gillen and architect Christopher Stromberg of Johnson Stromberg Architecture, a South Street-based design firm that had been involved in the design of Carpenter Square, an eleven-home LEED-certified development at 17th and Carpenter streets.

The footprint of the existing structure at 1535 – a former accordian shop – would remain mostly the same but with a minor expansion in the back of the first floor to accommodate a kitchen. At 700 square feet, the restaurant would be on the cozy side with about 30 seats and no plan for outdoor seating at this point. The apartment upstairs would be 1,400 square feet.

They cited Passyunk’s burgeoning identity as a restaurant row as the reason they see the property as an opportunity to add diversity to the avenue’s current offerings. They haven’t signed an agreement with any executive chefs or restaurateurs, but Gillen assured community members that there has been plenty of interest in the location from possible tenants, whom he declined to name. Like neighbors Stateside and Fond, they are hoping to implement something upscale, yet casual, while avoiding replication of what’s already there.

Community members in attendance had their concerns about probability of yet another restaurant succeeding in that location given the saturation of eating establishments around the fountain and along Passyunk Avenue. The zoning committee asked Gillen and Stromberg if they would consider retail, to which they replied that they were currently only pursuing a restaurant concept.

Despite the concerns, the committee voted 6-2 in favor of non-opposition (the crazy zoning way of saying support).

If all goes well with the zoning and permits, Stromberg said that we could expect to see something in the space by early spring 2014. He said the plan is to go ahead with renovations and renovate the first floor into a “white box” that could quickly be personalized once an agreement with a restaurateur is made.

What type of restaurant would you like to see in that space? Or do you think that East Passyunk has finally met its restaurant limit?

- Danielle Zimmerman


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8 Responses to Building owner presents loose plan for restaurant across from fountain at 1535 S. 11th St.

  1. Lee October 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    The fact that he has no operator lined up (unless he’s just keeping it close to the vest), makes me think that his timeline is incredibly optimistic.

    I also agree with the general concerns of more restaurants coming online. In the long-run restaurants will self regulate to a sustainable number. I wish this new owner luck in finding something with staying power.

  2. Tiny Tim October 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Maybe a slightly more downscale Kanella.

    Or upscale Ethiopian. Have to go to West Philly for that now.

  3. Kitty October 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Never too many restaurants! I still think there could be more options on Passyunk. Maybe some more casual restaurants that are not upscale. I do agree we need more shoping on the strip, but at the rate Passyunk Ave is moving, we will need more restaurants.

  4. Lauren October 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Agreed. Never too many restaurants. Something casual and diner-esque would be a lovely addition to the neighborhood.

  5. fmd October 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    omg. Ethiopian would be BRILLIANT. I am far too lazy to public transportation it out to West Philly for Ethiopian. I just treat myself to it in DC and San Francisco. We do not need another pizza place or italian place or coffee shop, or sandwich shop. Ethnic is the way to go.

  6. fmd October 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    and since it was an accordian shop they should do something like what Chihuly did in Seattle (although not if it ends up being an Ethiopian restaurant–that wouldn’t make too much sense)

  7. AM October 10, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Come on now – formal dining for men in South Philly means Phillies jersey and jeans. Casual is a Phillies tee and basketball shorts.

  8. Jillian October 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    I think a vegetarian sit down restaurant would be awesome. I don’t think there’s anything like that. Think Red Bamboo in Brooklyn.

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