With White Dog Cafe's flagship location at 3420 Sansom St. approaching its 35th anniversary in January 2018, owner Marty and Sydney Grims have just rolled out an expansion that makes it among the largest restaurants in University City.
Designer Kate Rohrer and team from Rohe Creative have picked up the homey/kitschy-canine motif to two new rooms — a 12-seat "parlor bar" leading into a richly appointed, lounge-like dining room. Down the open staircase is a romantic, plant-filled, lower-level dining room that brings to mind the original White Dog, which opened at the height of the fern bar era.
All told, the addition — by way of a takeover of the longtime Saturn hair salon — adds 80 seats plus 12 outdoor spots in season.
Marty Grims bought the White Dog in 2009 from founder Judy Wicks, adding Main Line locations in Wayne and Haverford. He and his daughter also now own the Moshulu on Penn's Landing, Autograph Brasserie in Wayne, and Plantation Restaurant, Daddy O Restaurant & Hotel and Tuckers Tavern on Long Beach Island.
From a business standpoint, the expansion makes sense, Marty Grims said this week. "University City is its own economic engine, and it's now more closely connected to Center City," he said, pointing out the surge in business thanks to the neighborhood's "eds and meds" institutions.
The Grimses also are developing a restaurant called Louie-Louie in the nearby Inn at Penn (3611 Walnut St.), to open this spring. More immediately, at 3432 Sansom St., just down the block from the White Dog, the suburban sports bar Bernie's Pub plans to open next weekend.