Ask Liz: Can I Use the New Lits Building Sign to Propose?

This month: Who programs the new digital sign on the Lits Building, dealing with coffee shop table hogs, and what to expect from the Phillies.

Photo by A2AMedia

Photo by A2AMedia

I hear there’s new digital signage on the Lits Building at 8th and Market. Who’s responsible for programming it? — Looking Up in Center City

You mean Philadelphia’s new Times Square? The Lits Building, formerly known as BNY Mellon Independence Center (but formerly formerly known as Lit Brothers), now has 14-foot-high LED displays visible from 7th, 8th and Market streets. The words on the energy-efficient signs will come courtesy of area entities like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, West Chester University, UnitedHealthcare and Penn Medicine, all of which are confirmed advertisers. In other words: No, you can’t propose to your girlfriend that way.

Phillies spring training starts in March. Any season predictions? — Anxious in Drexel Hill

I know this is hard to hear, Philadelphia sports fans — accustomed as we are to glory — but this isn’t going to be a championship baseball season. The Phillies are in a “rebuilding” process, which is kind of like a lame-duck political administration: Nothing momentous can possibly happen until the next crew shows up. I can make a few sure predictions, though: more empty seats, fewer season tickets, and a middle-to-bottom finish in the division. Actually, given the 2014 season’s last-place finish, it could be even more dire: Since Ruben Amaro took over as GM, the team has gotten a little bit worse every season, and the only place worse than last place is worst record in baseball. Are we headed that way? Stay tuned.

I go to my neighborhood coffee shop for lunch: I get a drink, a soup and a sandwich, and a pastry for dessert. Sometimes I even get a homemade dog treat to take home. I’m a good customer. The problem is that I can end up waiting for a table for half an hour because of people sitting with laptops. They’re not even eating anything — at the most, they might have a single coffee cup from what looks like hours ago. Is it ever appropriate for me to ask one of these people if I can have that table? — First Dibs in West Philly

Since this seems like a business conundrum as much as a patron’s issue, I reached out to Meg Hagele, owner of Mount Airy’s High Point Cafe, whose mantra is “Tables Happen.” Meg is all too familiar with this issue, which is why she placed a sign at the shop that says, “We find that once you have made your way through the line, tables happen. We then invite customers to feel free to share any table where there is a spot.”

“Pretend you’re in Europe, and sit where there’s a seat,” Hagele advises. “If the camper doesn’t like it, the camper can leave. Maybe they’ll make a new friend. If they want to have a solo dining experience, perhaps that cafe isn’t the place for them.”

Hagele works hard not to get involved in any kerfuffles between the customers, but every now and then, “in my most unscoldy manner possible, I will ask someone who has been there a long time if they would please be willing to share their table with these lovely folks whose food has just arrived. At the least, they get to sit, but often the camper is apologetic and gets up and leaves.”

Liz Spikol has lived in Philadelphia nearly all her life, which means she knows stuff. Got a question? Email it to

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.