The Cafe Lift location on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth greeted customers Monday, Jan. 13 with a sign announcing its closure after a year and five months.

Slow business was not the reason, said owner Michael Pasquarello, who with his now-wife, Jeniphur, opened the first Lift in 2003 in what was then a mildly sketchy area, Philadelphia’s Loft District.

Pasquarello’s two business partners in the Narberth location own one of the few liquor licenses in the borough.

Lift’s bruncherie business model — as they quickly figured out — did not lend itself to the kind of bar volume that would justify a liquor license.

Coffee counter at front of Cafe Lift, in Narberth.
MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Coffee counter at front of Cafe Lift, in Narberth.

My sources in the supply-and-demand world of liquor-license law pegged the value of such a license at $400,000 to $500,000. Mimosas, negroni, spritzes, and $9 margs at brunch simply do not compute.

“There are two of them [in the partnership] and only one of me,” Pasquarello said, adding that the decision to close was amicable. “We just didn’t have the same goals," he said. No one from 724 Partners LLC, which owns the building, was available to comment.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at the original Cafe Lift, as well as Prohibition Taproom, Kensington Quarters, and KQ Burger.

The Pasquarellos plan to open a Chinese-Mexican hybrid called La Chinesca at 11th and Spring Garden Streets this spring or summer, and are counting on a fall opening of Little Sister at 448 N. 10th St., a Southern Italian successor to their shuttered Bufad (once at 13th and Spring Garden).

And I’m hearing talk of a Haddonfield location for Cafe Lift, which Michael Pasquarello acknowledged was a possibility.