Instead of building a coffee station inside their office, Meredith Waldman and Sun Park flipped the concept on its head and located their marketing firm inside a coffee shop — their coffee shop.
Rally, which opened Tuesday at Seventh and Bainbridge in Bella Vista, is both a neighborhood cafe and a creative agency
“Coffee shops are always filled with creative freelancers anyway,” Waldman notes.
It’s something she’s personally familiar with. Building on years of working for other agencies, where her clients included Heineken USA and local spirits maker Art in the Age, Waldman, 41, launched a solo consulting practice last year. After spending countless workdays jumping from one cafe to another, she realized opening her own shop could be a good logistical solution. She saw the former Bean Exchange space was available (it closed last August after nearly a decade), brought in longtime friend and former real estate agent Park as a partner, and jumped on the opportunity.
“I love that this is really a neighborhood spot,” Waldman says. “Every time people poked their heads in during construction, they would say, ‘Please tell me it’s going to be a cafe again!’”
The corner building has been refitted with lots of blond wood, a slate bar and aqua accents, giving the interior a much more airy feel than before. Coffee is from Lancaster roastery Passenger —
marking the brand’s first appearance in Philadelphia [Correction: HubBub has been serving Passenger since last November] — and is available iced, as drip or as espresso drinks pulled on a brand new La Marzocco machine.
Pour overs will also be introduced soon, says general manager Jesse Salahub, who previously worked at clothing boutique-slash-coffee shop United by Blue.
Baked goods are available to go along with the drinks, including donuts from Dottie’s Donuts, pastries from Au Fournil, and a selection from South Street Bagels. Some merchandise is also available, like hand-made ceramic mugs and French presses.
A unique feature at Rally is the ability to reserve a table in advance, whether it’s the communal table in the back of the room (for larger groups) or just one of the regular two-tops. Right now you do this over the phone, but building an online reservation system is in the plans. The idea was born from Waldman’s own frustrations.
“If you set up a meeting with a client at a cafe, you risk it being busy and not being able to get a table. Now that doesn’t have to happen,” she says.
The cafe also offers Waldman a potential pool of creatives to pull into her projects, because Rally is a “deconstructed agency,” meaning the team of designers, PR specialists, visual artists and idea folks is built to order for each project.
“We’re borrowing ideas from co-working spaces, but a bit more organic in nature,” she explains.
Rally was also built to be an event space — the tables are convertible into the kind of high-tops you’d find at a cocktail party. Waldman expects to host gatherings for client product launches or other milestones, but anyone can reserve the room for their own event.
The coffee shop is open 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, and 8 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday.