When Marcos Tlacopilco and José Martinez open their new breakfast spot in the Italian Market next month, it will have most of the decor the cast of Netflix hit “Queer Eye” installed when they filmed at the restaurant for the show’s Philly-set Season 5 — just not the black front wall.
“The wall we had was too dark. We want bright,” Tlacopilco says, while keeping it vague about the TV show, though he knows it was obvious to neighbors when the restaurant’s sign went up and streets were shut down.
He and Martinez are going with lime green paint instead, one of several changes they’re making to the old George’s Famous Roast Pork and Beef at 1007 S. 9th Street, a breakfast and sandwich shop that closed following the owner’s death. (It’s not the same George’s Sandwich Shop at 900 S. Ninth Street.)
The sign at their new restaurant, put up for “Queer Eye,” currently reads “Alma del Mar” (“soul of the sea”). It’s named for Tlacopilco’s wife, Alma Romero, but, like the black wall, they’re thinking of changing it to better reflect what’s they’re serving.
Tlacopilco does want to keep the neon sign inside the restaurant that spells out a bit of advice his grandfather used to give: “a todo lo que hagas ponle corazón.”
Tlacopilco, who moved to Philly from Puebla, Mexico, in 1998, owns Marcos Fish & Crab House on the same block. He’s been running the seafood market since he bought it from the former owner in 2003 and is serious about his fish — ask him about the downside of deboning — but wanted a place where he could cook too.
Living and working in the Italian Market, surrounded by family who also own businesses along S. Ninth Street, Tlacopilco came to realize that what the area is lacking is a breakfast spot where local workers could stop in early for something like an egg and cheese sandwich.
The plan is to open Alma del Mar (likely with another name) in late September as a breakfast-only counter-service eatery, and see how it goes. The menu Tlacopilco and Martinez have in mind is classic American morning fare, but if they feel like adding a fish dish, a taco option, or maybe a skewer of grilled mango, they might do that too.
“American culture by itself isn’t much,” Tlacopilco says, referring to food and much more. “The power in it is having everyone, everything, mixed together.”