Center City is crisscrossed by tiny alleys that time, developers, and the 21st century largely forgot, so you may not have noticed an orange liquor application on what appears to be an orphaned carriage house on Cypress Street, behind Vetri's parking lot, the University of the Arts, and the Center City One condo building.

It's literally in the shadow of the Kimmel Center, whose glass roof gleams a half-block west across Broad Street.

If neighborhood resident Ram Krishnan has his way, the turquoise-trimmed building will become a European-style cafe called The Republic.

Krishnan, a world-traveled consultant who bought the place last year to keep it from becoming another parking lot, said he is not looking for a big, splashy affair at what was the Scribe Video Center, which helped everyday people document their lives on video. Previously, the house was owned by Frederick and Edith Massiah, whose children include Common Pleas Court Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson and the filmmaker Louis Massiah.

Krishnan envisions The Republic as a laid-back spot for coffee and pastries in the morning, after which the focus would shift to light food and cocktails, suitable for conversation.

"It's not all about the chef," Krishnan said. "It's about people spending time with other people."

Krishnan said he has enlisted the consulting services of Mike Welsh, who is creating the soon-to-open Brick & Mortar at 315 N. 12th St. and previously ran the Rittenhouse cocktail bar Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.