Return of Restaurant Yenta: What Should Go Into the Latham Hotel?

Once upon a time — well, more like three-plus years ago—we wondered what the problem was with the unoccupied restaurant spaces at the Latham Hotel at 17th and Walnut Streets:

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?

Today, the Inky reports that the hotel’s owners are revamping the entire hotel, including the restaurant spaces. Clearly, they are still too shy to call and ask for our help again, but never fear, Foobooz and its commenters are here.

Back in 2008, we asked for your thoughts on what would make for a successful restaurant in that space, and you answered (BBQ, sushi and oyster house/fish bar, mostly). We’re putting the call out again in 2011: what should go in those inexplicably empty, heavily foot-trafficked, formerly-awesome-when-they-were-Jolly’s-and-the-Redhead spots?

Here’s an idea: the Inky says William Bucknell, founder of Bucknell University, had a house on the land now occupied on the Latham. Maybe the corner spot could be a cocktail lounge called The Bucknell. Or the elusive noodle bar. If they’re keeping the same layout, the smaller former Redhead space could be the magical tiki bar that we will make sure gets opened in this city, whether you people want one or not.

Major makeover for The Latham Hotel [Inquirer]
The Not-So-Jolly Latham Situation [Foobooz]