You may remember when Nook used to be on the Walnut Street Bridge, which was great for students, staff, and faculty heading to Penn or Drexel. Three years ago, Edna and Mike moved their shop to 20th Street, just north of Chestnut Street, where they say they're getting much more foot traffic. It's a nice spot to get some work done or have meeting, and even better for a cup of coffee and some freshly baked goods.
Nook is a place that can easily become your regular coffee shop, further contributing to the emergence of 20th Street as an ideal neighborhood retail corridor. They bake all their quiche, scones, and muffins on-site (along with sandwiches and some entrees), and work with a small roaster to perfect their blend of coffee (suitable for coffee or espresso), which gets tweaked closer to perfection every week. The walls are adorned with works of art painted by Mike's mom (all available for purchase of course), which lends a nice splash of colorful personality. He also plays iPod DJ, which this guy appreciates.
When it comes to arrangement of the space, Nook offers a nice variety, which is actually more unusual than one would guess in the coffee shop world. In the back, there are a couple couches with small tables that work well for a meeting. Small tables along one wall are good for a one-on-one conversation or doing some reading (iBook or real book) over your coffee and biscotti. A couple larger tile mosaic tables are idea for working on a laptop without getting in anybody else's way. A table for six with benches is sometimes used by groups of people, sometimes by individuals (also good for workspace). A bar at the window let's you do some people watching (as inspiration or distraction) on 20th Street. It's a small space, but they give you a lot of options, which is really nice.
There's a constant mix of people flowing through the shop... some are clearly regulars getting their caffeine fix before work, some set up at a table to focus on getting some work done, and plenty come in for more casual business/networking meetings. Edna and Mike work the counter themselves, which is a personal touch that really goes a long way.
15 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia
Table Space – lots of variety
Wi-Fi – strong and readily accessible
Natural Light – abundant, by way of a wall of full height windows
Atmosphere – friendly, for sure
Bicycle Parking – one rack at the end of the block; unfortunately, there aren't any poles closer
Coffee – $1.80/$2.10
Third places in a city or town are those that are neither home, work, nor shopping… they are the informal places in between, the public living rooms where we gather or go to be alone in a crowd… and there’s good argument that a culture of solid third places (Parisian café culture is so good as to become cliché) is a driver and indicator of community vitality. They can also be great workspaces for those of us not wanting to work from home, not yet being ready to pay for “real” commercial space, looking to get out of the office, or have a more informal meeting. There’s etiquette (called buying things and not being a slob with your belongings) to working in a café, but doing so can be good for you and the proprietor alike. In this blog, I’ll take you on a reviewed tour of some of Philadelphia’s ThirdPlace WorkSpace (trademark pending) opportunities. I hope you join me.