La Colombe Torrefaction - the homegrown coffee giant - is on the verge of a major expansion.
You probably know about the enormous cafe at 1335 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown that will open any day now. No announcement - rather, the doors will simply be unlocked. The idea is to feed only the neighborhood at first.
You probably don't know that owners Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti are sitting on a pile of bucks - $28.5 million, says Carmichael - that will be used to open 90 more cafes on both coasts. Carmichael says La Colombe - now in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. - will enter other markets including Boston, Baltimore and a swath of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. "We picked up an additional class of shareholders," Carmichael said. And with the original 25-year lease on its 19th Street flagship now extended 15 more years, the company appears here to stay.
Here's the deal in Fishtown: The 13th cafe in La Colombe's orbit - which will house corporate offices, Carmichael's copper Carl rum distillery and Iberti's bread oven and pastry shop - will serve coffee, baked goods, and food and drinks. A second-floor tasting room will allow demonstrations.
Place is wide open. You can sit beneath a nifty mural by Stephen "ESPO" Powers and eat a cheese board, maybe a roasted beet salad, some chicken pate, or a skillet (eggs and biscuits, roasted vegetable gratin, smoked pork chop and grits, or duck confit), or a tartine (mushroom, onion soup, smoked wild salmon, pan Catalan), or a sandwich with pancetta, or porchetta.
John McGrath, who baked bread at Parc; pastry chef Angela Ferri, formerly of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse; and chef de cuisine Taryn Goodman, formerly of Talula's Garden and Zahav, are on board.
Cell service will get out through the holes in the roof, but wifi will not be provided. Management does not want to see people's faces buried in computer or phone screens.
Fun fact: Carmichael and Iberti met in the mosh pit of a Seattle grunge bar in 1987. Carmichael, now starring on the Travel Channel show Dangerous Grounds, was a farm boy from central Washington who had previously worked for Starbucks. Iberti was a Frenchman who came to the Seattle area to attend flight and engineering school; he was working part time for an Italian coffee company.