Now Open: Odd Fellows Cafe Philly

Official opening day image from Odd Fellows online.

Happening in Philadelphia today, Sunday, February 5th – the official opening of Odd Fellows Cafe, the eagerly-awaited new restaurant / cafe concept from the Ortiz family and the crew at Spruce Street Espresso.

Odd Fellows is located right down the street from the Spruce (Odd Fellows is 1201 Spruce, Spruce Street Espresso is 1101 Spruce), but from word, pictures, and a very early-stage tour of the site last August, the two spaces could not be more different. Spruce Street is very much “just a coffee shop”, albeit a damn good one, equal parts charming and intimate. Odd Fellows is a full-service Latin restaurant, an airy space with Eames chairs, a lunch hangout with Salvadoran turkey sandwiches – all with a wicked-focused coffee program and a dinner menu that looks awesome. Anchoring both spaces is Counter Culture Coffee: Odd Fellows will open by serving Toscano and Apollo 7.0 as espresso, with PNG Baroida and Ethiopia Idido available via V60 or Kalita pour over. Counter Culture’s seasonal Farmhouse blend will be offered via batch brewing. Siphon service during dinner is not being launched right away, as previously reported, but is slated to begin come Spring.

“We have literally been fighting people out of the doorway”, GM Seth Lester told us, due perhaps to the ongoing and overwhelmingly positive local media coverage from the likes of Philly City Paper and Eater. Mr. Lester is joined from Spruce Street by Lori Zaspel and Amanda Whitt, who will be Odd Fellows’ FOH manager and coffee manager, respectively. For those keeping score at home, this is a restaurant with a “director of coffee” position, and where both the GM and FOH manager have extensive barista experience, Ms. Zaspel having worked previously at several cafes in Philadelphia, and Mr. Lester having working at more than 25 coffee shops around the country as part of his Americano To Go lifestyle project. We dare say, there is no restaurant in America with more coffee experience among its top staff.

The intersection of coffee and fining dining is something we will be exploring more and more of this year, with Counter Culture’s other restaurant jewel, Woodbury Kitchen in Baltimore, being at the top of our list. But whereas a specialty coffee program is often the addition to a restaurant’s foundation, in the case of Odd Fellows, the specialty coffee program IS the foundation, which is something special. It’s an exciting project to say the least; consider us Odd Fellows watchers from here on in, and put this place high up on our must-visit list for 2012.

Confidential to author of this article on Eater Philly: There is no such thing as an “Estrada” espresso machine; Amanda Whitt has not been “imported” especially for this project – she has been living and working in Philly for over a year; this is not the first time siphon service has been offered in Philadelphia; the link on the bottom of your article sends the reader to a posting from CNN’s Eatocracy blog.

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