541 Elliot Lamborn


The best cafe in Philadelphia was called Leotah’s Place. I know that this magnet does not say Leotah’s Place on it, but that was what Franny Lou’s Porch once was, just on the opposite corner of a quiet Kensington block. I first went to Leotah’s Place to meet with a close friend and collaborator who had recommended it for it’s balanced sense of privacy and homely comfort enabled by the layout of the space: a series of rooms winding toward the back of a corner rowhome and stuffed with refinished old furniture. Probably adding to that comfortable sense were the books spilling out of every niche, colorfully ancestral adornments enlivening the walls, and the centrally placed computer playing through an endless playlist of Nigerian Afrobeat, Ghanaian jazz and Brazillian Bossa Nova. The place couldn’t feel more warm and welcoming, and the coffee seemed imbued with the space. The story about how Leotah’s Place became Franny Lou’s is for another time, but what’s important is that the feeling was never lost in the transition. When the owner relocated across the street, nothing was left behind, and it remains one of the best places in the city to get good coffee, to get thoughtful work done, to get distracted by the various things around the room, to get to know the shopkeepers’ stories and to get a renewed faith in the importance of small business to a community.