Bloomsday Cafe on Second Street across from the Head House Square shambles, which has been building an audience in the last six weeks with daytime operation, is now running on all cylinders with the addition of dinner and its bottle shop.
The all-day restaurant from Zach Morris and chef Kelsey Bush, owners of Haverford’s Green Engine Coffee Co., starts at 7 a.m. with house-baked pastries, a light breakfast menu, Rival Bros. coffee, and coffee cocktails. Lunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m; there’s limited service from 3 to 5 p.m. Dinner is 5 to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Sunday hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sample menus are at the website.
Like the name, Bloomsday (414 S. Second St.) was an odyssey. Morris, whose varied past includes work designing stormwater systems as well as serving as director of education at the Wine School of Philadelphia (turning water into wine, as it were), opened Green Engine in 2015 with Bush, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef.
Their next plan was to open a bottle shop at Green Engine, but a change in the liquor law sent the price of liquor licenses soaring. Since Bush and Morris and his wife, Jocelyn, a Realtor, live in Philadelphia, they decided to open a Green Engine location in the city, where licenses are about half the price as they are in Montgomery County.
Through Vincent Stipo, a bar manager-turned-real estate broker, he found the former Cafe Nola, which had endured years of decline before its 2015 closing amid eviction proceedings. “It looked like a lovable dump,” Morris said, explaining that they wanted to expend the sweat equity to convert it into something more.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood and Queen Village to the south have burst with new dining options. (See Craig LaBan’s Q&A in the “Let’s Eat” newsletter.)
The project expanded from a coffee shop to a coffee shop with a wine bottle shop to what it is now: an all-day coffee shop and restaurant with a full bar, wine/beer/cider bottle shop, cozy seating with working fireplace, and a room for events, including Morris-led wine classes. There’s a vertical living moss wall, similar to the one at Green Engine. Ambit Architecture did the design.
Morris and Bush retained the services of Tim Kweeder (ex-Petruce et all., Kensington Quarters) to run the full bar, which seats eight. He offers more than 60 bottles, 15 by-the-glass selections and two tap wines, plus beer, cider, and cocktails.
The name, of course, is a nod to the James Joyce novel Ulysses, a favorite of Morris’ since he was a teen. The branding company True Hand Society slipped Greek references into Bloomsday’s look, including the siren in the logo.
The name has a practical side, as Bloomsday (June 16) is a built-in holiday, Morris said. “I also like the word. It sounds happy and it’s easy to spell.”