So there’s a lot going on restaurant-wise in Bethlehem. Right now we’ve got numerous places shut down and re-opening as new venues, so let’s start with those.
First up is Bahnhof, which is owned by the same proprietors are The Bookstore Speakeasy (Bethlehem) and Tap & Table (Emmaus). They’ve been storming the culinary/drink scene far and wide, from their two LV locations all the way to Rehoboth Beach, DE with their summertime jazz respite Atlantic Jazz Yard, to their new Philly digs Fork & Barrel. With the news of a new property acquisition in Center City Philly it’s no wonder their latest valley venture has been delayed.
Bahnhof, German for “train depot”, is taking over the site of the former Main Street Depot. This spot is hugely historical and, although nice before, will be transformed into something awesome once complete. Featuring mostly German beer with waitresses sporting dirndls, it should create a unique niche in the dining/beer scene. It was open, before renovations, during Musikfest under what we can only assume was a special event liquor license for the occasion. Signs during Musikfest indicated an October opening, and I heard from the owner that date was pushed back to around Christmas. With that time passed, the proprietors say they’re “making progress” on the establishment.
Next up we have what is poised to be the next big fine dining restaurant coming on the LV dining scene. Mint, owned by the guys over at Stefano’s, is cleverly named due to it being located in an old bank. Interestingly, owners say the vault will be converted into their wine cellar. After having no clue of what building this was I stopped by to see where it was and how far along the interior is coming. Right now there’s not much in the building and it’s pretty gutted. Plumbing crews are at the site working right now.
Next up is Wired Cafe. Wired has gone through numerous, numerous changes throughout the years and this just marks another chapter in what seems to be a space with a severe identity crisis. First Wired was a cafe with an art gallery adjacent to it. I heard word that the art gallery wasn’t selling anything so they rented it out to Underwired, a second hand shop that was located in the basement of Wired. The basement then turned into dingy hangout. Next Underwired moved to the SouthSide and Shuze took over the space adjacent to the cafe. Next the back half of the cafe turned into Alando’s, a Kenyan cuisine spot oddly situated in back of a coffee shop. Now the owner of the Alando’s portion has purportedly bought the rest of the space and has rebranded it “ReWired” , which will now serve sandwiches and different coffee from before. It seems very similar to before, with Alando’s still in the back, although dropping some of the kitsch and upping the classiness of the establishment. And to further the changes, Shuze, in the old gallery spot, is shutting down. Who knows what will go in there next. Hopefully ReWired can wrap their heads around something that will work in the long-run and stop the constant evolution. I’ve seen many cafes like this try new and different things constantly and end up losing their entire customer base. Hopefully they survive because it’s a great spot in a fantastic location. ReWired already has a new Twitter and website up.
For some other Bethlehem cafes, two seem to be finding new life. Wildflower Cafe, which shut down at the end of December, has been snatched up by Manuel and Marcel, owners of Terra Cafe in Easton. Will the hippie spot stay the same? It’ll be extremely interesting to see what changes come to the vegan/vegetarian-friendly spot that was known more for their open mics and DIY atmosphere than their culinary endeavors.
Rock n’ Joe Cafe, on the Northside of Bethlehem, seems to be turning into something new after shutting its doors months ago. This week all Rock n’ Joe logos have been stripped from the doors and it looked like there was some work going on inside, however nothing indicating what will be there in the future. I wish good luck to whoever opens in that spot because it is absolutely terrible. It’s too far removed from the sidewalk to appeal to people walking by. You could easily walk right by and not realize there’s anything there. I mentioned in the first lines of my review of Rock n Joe that that spot and the cafe might have a hard time surviving, even though it was an extremely nice atmosphere.
Pacino’s Cigar Bar, as we reported delays on before, looks to be no closer to finishing. From the looks through the window work hasn’t been done in months. After talking with owners of hookah lounges in the area I can only guess the city or state might be holding this one up.
That’s it for now, but I’ll be sure to keep following up on these establishments through their openings. Until then.