When ReAnimator Coffee opened on Susquehanna Avenue in Fishtown, Joe Livewell was there to witness the effect it had on the neighborhood. And when Livewell and River Wards districts real estate developer Laurence McKnight (of Riverwards Group) decided to go into business together, they both knew well the importance of a proper coffee shop when it comes to neighborhood revitalization and sustenance. Enter River Wards Cafe, a new coffee shop for Port Richmond which opened last Friday, March 11, at 3118 Richmond Street.
Born and raised in Fishtown, Livewell began his professional career as a bond trader. But for the creative mind, bond trading can stunt the passions, as does software consulting (the field he went into next). Small business was on his mind, and eventually, he landed a job selling children's clothing, which again, didn't quite fit the future he had in his mind's eye. It wasn't until he linked up with Mark Corpus and Mark Capriotti, founders of ReAnimator Coffee, that he says he found the road he liked.
After about a year of helping ReAnimator's wholesale growth (as well as the occasional barista-ing), Livewell met McKnight and decided on the 3118 Richmond Street address as an ideal candidate for their new shop, bearing in mind the amount of development happening nearby.
Now open, the cafe menu is simple: ReAnimator coffee and espresso drinks, pastries by Au Fournil, and more importantly, soft pretzels by Center City Pretzel Co. — an ode to Livewell's childhood walking to school loaded with a chocolate milk in one hand and a pretzel in the other. ReAnimator coffee in one hand with a soft pretzel in the other just seems a little more grown-up.
The cafe's name is obvious, but very intentional. The River Wards (the collection of neighborhoods that run along the Delaware River which include Fishtown, Kensington, Bridesburg, and Port Richmond) are a proud group, and to Livewell and McKnight, calling it "River Wards Cafe" is a more unifying term than, say, "Richmond Street Cafe".
The cafe is wifi-friendly (with USB ports for charging), and hours, for now, go from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily. Once it's all settled in, expect it to open earlier and close later.