Updated Nov. 29
The new target for pierogi specialist Mom-Mom’s to open a tiny storefront on South Street West is New Year’s 2020, according to co-owner Ryan Elmore, who said complications with the Health Department forced him to push back the original Thanksgiving launch date reported by Philly Mag.
“[The space] has been empty for 10 years or something,” Elmore explained, “so it’s not grandfathered into any old codes.”
He and business partner Kaitlin Wines launched Mom-Mom’s as a food cart in 2014. They expanded two years ago with a sit-down restaurant in Bridesburg, which they plan to turn into a mostly special event space and commissary where they’ll prep most of the food for the new spot.
Mom-Mom’s South Street — which at two floors of just 150 square feet isn’t much bigger than the mobile cart — will sell classic-meets-modern Polish comfort food (pierogi, stuffed cabbage golabki, Czerw’s kielbasa) through a walk-up window from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The shop will also offer the dishes placed on trays, making it easy for people to enjoy leisurely Polish dinners at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge right next door.
“Jack and Gretchen [Prince] actually both have Polish heritage,” Elmore said he discovered about the proprietors of Bob & Barbara’s, who’ve run the dive bar for about 25 years and now own both buildings. “Also, they are the coolest.”
Synergy and a good working relationship were key to landing a tenant 1505 South St., per Jack Prince, who said he and Gretchen bought the property around 2.5 years ago.
“A lot of people have wanted to rent [there], but either it didn’t seem like their businesses were sustainable, or they weren’t complementary to the neighborhood,” Prince told Billy Penn. “We really didn’t want 24-hour cheesesteaks.”
Enter Mom-Mom’s. After meeting via a mutual friend in real estate, they hit it off, both men said. They seem equally thrilled about the new venture and its prospects for partnership.
Current food options at Bob & Barbara’s include bowls of instant ramen, plus BYO dishes from other neighborhood kitchens, Prince said. He’s looking forward to making pierogies a bar food staple, and also thinking about special events.
“We hope to do a lot with Mom-Mom’s,” he continued, “because everyone we’ve told that they’re coming is super excited. Old people, young people, all different cultures.”
The addition of the hot pierogi spot furthers what Prince sees as the accelerating development of the strip as a food and drink destination. Southern-themed Rex 1516 across the street is expanding into the former Royal Theater, and gastropub The Cambridge was recently revamped with the addition of a sister wine bar. Plus, BYOs like Sawatdee and Quick Fixx are still going strong.
In order to facilitate their launch and raise money for needed equipment, the Mom-Mom’s team ran a Kickstarter.
The crowdfund campaign, which surpassed its $12,500 goal the day before Thanksgiving, closes Thursday at midnight. The project notched 99 backers — and Bob & Barbara’s Prince is among the most ardent supporters.
“It’s important to me and my family that they succeed,” Prince said. “They’ll be a great addition to the block and the neighborhood. Something about them coming feels big.”