How Front Street Cafe survived and thrived amid COVID-19
The restaurant took early advantage of its large outdoor seating space, which the neighborhood soon flocked to.
Located right next to the Market-Frankford Line at Girard Station is Front Street Cafe, a cozy, local neighborhood spot known for its healthy meals for any time of day.
The small business has been around since September 2015, and has built its reputation by serving unique and nutritious foods customers continue coming back for.
Despite the restaurant facing many dilemmas amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, customers have still been flocking to the cafe, causing business to boom.
Andrew Petruzelli, the owner of Front Street Cafe, is dedicated to creating comfort food with a healthy twist. His team also cooks up vegan-based and gluten-free foods for customers with dietary restrictions.
“We did a twist on our menu where people who were vegan could eat anything that didn't have an animal icon next to it,” Petruzelli said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.
Front Street Cafe was forced to close in March 2020, but reopened later, in June of that year. Petruzelli described the time as stressful, but necessary for customers.
“We did our best in following protocols as well as our own protocols,” he said. “We resorted to a lot of disposables just to be safe.”
The business was able to make use out of its large outdoor seating capacity. The space also caused an outpouring of customers who lived in the neighborhood, adjusting to their new normal.
“With all of the new families and people who now work from home in this area, customers are probably coming here instead of traveling to Center City,” he said.
Another reason for Front Street Cafe being constantly busy is its menu, which spans from breakfast to late-night bites.
One of its most well-known staples are buffalo cauliflower bites, a dish that’s received a fair share of attention on social media.
“It's kind of meant to be in place of wings,” said Petruzelli. “We won Best of Philly awards a couple of times because of the cauliflower bites.”
The cauliflower is dipped in a thick batter made of rice flour and then flash fried until golden-brown. After frying, they are coated in a spicy buffalo sauce.
Other sauce options include garlic–sriracha, garlic general tso sauce, and whiskey bbq.
Another fan favorite are Front Street Benedicts, which are constructed on an everything English muffin, and feature either a tofu scramble or poached eggs, and vegan hollandaise.
Customers can also add fresh applewood bacon, or their special vegan scrapple, made in-house.
“Our scrapple is mushroom based,” said Petruzelli.
The cafe also has a smoothie and juice bar featuring many homemade recipes to choose from, such as Super Green, a drink that is composed of coconut, a mixture of greens, cacao, orange juice, and bananas.
“We also have a bakery on premises, so we make our own baked goods,” he said.
The restaurant has been thriving, but Petruzelli hopes that locals all around Philly can stop by for a quick smoothie, or a sit-down brunch with family and friends.
“We have something for everyone,” he said.
If you are in the neighborhood check out Front Street Cafe’s menu.