Northeast Times

Cocktails, with a side of community

This new Fran­cis­ville cafe and bar wants to be a fo­cal point in the re­sur­gent neigh­bor­hood.

“Wel­come aboard the Fly­ing Car­pet!” trum­peted a jovi­al Kev­in Young as a re­port­er entered The Fly­ing Car­pet Caf&ea­cute; and Bar at 1841 Pop­lar St.

Like a lat­ter day Ri­cardo Mont­al­ban, ala Fantasy Is­land, Young, the af­fable pro­pri­et­or of the five-month-old Fran­cis­ville busi­ness, strives to make the place a friendly, all-in­clus­ive oas­is — a rare thing in a neigh­bor­hood where va­cant prop­er­ties and blight dot the land­scape.

“We are a com­munity-driv­en or­gan­iz­a­tion, based on the idea of not be­ing able to find a good spot for cof­fee on this side of Fair­mount Av­en­ue,” he said.

Ori­gin­ally from Bo­ston, Young has traveled the world and lived in Europe — in­clud­ing a few years spent in Par­is and Lon­don — and he said he learned there how something as simple as a neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shop can change com­munit­ies for the bet­ter.

“The neigh­bor­hood was in des­per­ate need for a point of unity, a place where every­one feels wel­come,” said Young. “We want this to be the neigh­bor­hood’s liv­ing room.”

A real es­tate man­ager for Urb­an Re­alty Works, which is owned by a group from Bo­ston, Mass., and a res­id­ent of Fran­cis­ville for nine years, Young said he wanted to cre­ate a busi­ness that would serve as a com­munity hub.

The reas­on it’s a bar as well as a cof­fee house?

 ldquo;Star­bucks doesn’t have gin and ton­ic. Say that’s what I want, but you just want a cof­fee,” he said, as an ex­ample. “Then, we would come here.”

For that same reas­on, Young said, the busi­ness of­fers brunch and break­fast foods all day long, and this is no simple eat­ery.

No, in­stead, Young said at Fly­ing Car­pet the idea was to provide fresh foods, as loc­ally pro­duced as pos­sible.

For at least six months, he said, work­ing with friends and oth­ers in the res­taur­ant in­dustry, he set up food com­mit­tees and tast­ing com­mit­tees to find the best products avail­able.

Sand­wiches made with ar­tis­an bread, falafels with fresh hu­mus and 14 types of tea are just some of the of­fer­ings avail­able at Fly­ing Car­pet.

“We al­ways go to the neigh­bor­hood first for everything and then we branch out,” he said, talk­ing about where he gets the in­gredi­ents for the menu.

“Even for our em­ploy­ees — I live the fur­thest away and I only live a block and a half away,” he said with a laugh.

In just five months that the busi­ness has been open, Young said the Fly­ing Car­pet Caf&ea­cute; and Bar has been a pos­it­ive in­flu­ence in Fran­cis­ville, and re­altors have even brought cli­ents over to see the spot when they are selling homes in the com­munity.

He knows of at least two homes that were sold be­cause the new neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents liked the caf&ea­cute; and bar.

“There’s no doubt it’s been a sta­bil­iz­ing factor for the neigh­bor­hood,” said Young. “The most beau­ti­ful thing is see­ing all the eth­nic mix and there’s no pre­ju­dices … You come to the Fly­ing Car­pet and can be trans­formed.”

With ro­tat­ing art cre­ated by Phil­adelphia based artists con­stantly on dis­play and a vari­ety of books on ar­chi­tec­ture, travel and oth­er top­ics on the bar for any­one’s per­us­al, Young said he hopes the Fly­ing Car­pet Caf&ea­cute; and Bar brings a touch of class to an area where va­cant lots and blighted prop­er­ties had once been the norm.

Young said he wanted to bring that ele­ment, as he has an in­grained love of the Fran­cis­ville com­munity, and, it’s been rub­bing off as many cus­tom­ers tell him they en­joy how the spot al­lows them to meet their neigh­bors in a friendly, com­fort­able at­mo­sphere.

“People have said they are happy something classy fi­nally landed here, no pun in­ten­ded … I love when people say that and they tell me their feel­ings. It tickles my senses,” he said.

“Our goal is to con­tin­ue a mis­sion of unity. One world, one rhythm … There’s no dis­crim­in­a­tion with good food and drinks. Every­one rides first class at Ma­gic Car­pet.”

 Along with provid­ing the com­munity with an out­let to present the art on dis­play at the caf&ea­cute; and bar, the Fly­ing Car­pet also holds live jazz per­form­ances twice a week and live DJ nights on Fri­days.

But, he’s also reached out to Cal­cutta House, a loc­al non-profit that provides hous­ing and health ser­vices for those sick and dy­ing of AIDS, to help sup­port the pro­gram.

Cal­cutta House is at 16th Street and Gir­ard Av­en­ue and Young said that when he learned about the non-profit hav­ing fin­an­cial troubles, he wanted to do something for the or­gan­iz­a­tion.

Young said he’s lost friends to the dis­ease and he be­lieves in the work that the Cal­cutta House does.

“It’s something I felt com­pelled to reach out and do,” Young said. “We are work­ing with them to cre­ate new sources of fund­ing.”

For more in­form­a­tion about The Fly­ing Car­pet Caf&ea­cute; and Bar, in­clud­ing hours and spe­cials, vis­it the Face­book page at www.Face­book.com/FLYPHL or call 215-235-2525.••

Cal­cutta House be­ne­fit at Fly­ing Car­pet

On Aug. 25 at 6 p.m., at Fly­ing Car­pet Caf&ea­cute; and Bar, 1842 Pop­lar St. in Fran­cis­ville, loc­al artist Justin Hinte and photo artist Celeste Hardester will auc­tion off their work, with 50 per­cent of the pro­ceeds donated dir­ectly to Cal­cutta House.

There will also be live jazz per­formed by Philly nat­ive Jean­nie Brooks and her jazz trio.

En­trance fee is $30, which in­cludes hors d’oeuvres, an open bar from 6 to 7 p.m. and re­duced price drinks the re­mainder of the even­ing.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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