The Not-So-Jolly Latham Situation

Once upon a time, a really strange and inexplicably appealing bar named Jolly’s lived in the semi-subterranean ground floor of the Latham Hotel on the corner of 17th and Walnut Streets. A few doors down, still within the structure of the Latham, there was another bar, a piano bar, called the Redhead Lounge, also owned by the same person, also strange yet appealing.

One day, both of these bars up and moved to 19th Street where they promptly sputtered and died. Without knowing the nitty-gritty of the owner’s financials, etc., we can only speculate that the mojo of these two spots was intimately related to their location within the Latham and they couldn’t survive the move. Same owner, same names, basically the same neighborhood and still they couldn’t survive.

This is a cautionary tale of sorts, of how carefully a restaurant owner needs to heed the three words: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. This is also a Restaurant Yenta musing, as in: what, in a perfect world, should go into that ex-Jolly’s spot? The space has been empty (despite an orange liquor transfer sign) for what amounts to an eternity in such a primo location – it has an entrance on heavily trafficked 17th Street and a row of windows (stupidly tinted) on the Walnut Street side. We can only imagine that the Latham is desperate for our help, but afraid to ask. Don’t worry, Latham! We live to serve and we’re here to help – take our advice before you open up something lame.

Is it time for a craft beer bar on Walnut? A second Good Dog? A Monk’s, even? Something fancier? How about sushi by day and karaoke at night? A Distrito in the Center City Distrito? Or maybe this is the spot for the elusive barbecue joint in Philly?

Your thoughts?