“West Philly’s best kept secret.” Those were the words used by Mahari Bailey to describe Café Rue 52, the new creperie and espresso bar at 503 S. 52nd St., which he owns.
Bailey grew up in the Wynnfield section of West Philadelphia, but he said he has memories of 52nd street. “Fifty-second Street was where we would come to buy sneakers or hang out. As you get older you trend away from 52nd street because it doesn’t have the allure that it once had so we’re trying to bring that back.
“I wanted something new, I wanted something exciting, I wanted something fresh, something to give the neighborhood kind of a buzz and give the people sort of a treat,” said Bailey, who opened the restaurant in September. “I own quite a bit of real estate in the area and we’re trying to rehabilitate the area to what is was before. Fifty-secondStreet used to be a very popular shopping corridor,” he said, “so with the acquisition of a few buildings in the area, we decided we weren’t going to just put subpar businesses in.”
Café Rue 52 certainly doesn’t appear subpar. The menu, which features items with Philadelphia-centric names like “The Cosby” and “The Fresh Prince,” is displayed on a large high-definition television. Additionally, the walls are covered in works of art, largely from local artists, available for purchase. The furniture and décor gives the café what Bailey calls a “funky urban vibe” that he hopes will attract a new type of clientele to 52nd street.
“I really built this place to be a hub for entrepreneurs in West Philadelphia,” says Bailey. He hopes that his café will foster a spirit of enterprise and bring new, attractive businesses to 52nd street. “We’re hoping to attract other investors who are willing to go the extra mile and put in a bigger investment than what we normally put into the buildings on 52nd street.”
Although Café Rue 52 is relatively new to 52nd street, Bailey’s vision of a hub for business and revitalization of the neighborhood is already materializing. “I had been looking at houses in this neighborhood about a year ago and I backed off it, and now I’m sad I did. It’s taken off it looks like,” said Bob Deen, who was meeting a friend at the café for a business meeting.
Rhetta Morgan said she is thrilled with the café, however spoke cautiously about potential over gentrification of the area. “If that is the direction that the community is going in, I hope it wouldn’t push people out of the community.”
For more information about the café,, visit this website.
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