5 Philly Chains With Big Expansion Plans

Coffee shops, burger joints and brewpubs are all on the rise
September 17, 2014
by Danya Henninger

Philadelphia as culinary hub? It’s looking more and more that way, and not just because the city itself is becoming a true dining destination. Five local food and drink entrepreneurs are planning big expansions, spreading Philly cred throughout the region, country and beyond.

La Colombe

Opening their most impressive cafe yet is just the tip of the iceberg for JP Iberti and Todd Carmichael, who founded their Philadelphia roastery 20 years ago. A cohort of shareholders assembled by investment firm Goode Partners has provided the coffee biz with $28.5 million, some of which will go to upgrading the Port Richmond roasting facility, but most of which will be used to open around 100 cafes over the next five years, in Philadelphia and around the nation.

Carmichael told Sprudge he’d love to see a huge, comfortable, food-serving cafe-bakery in every major city in the country (like the one in Fishtown, minus the distillery). He made clear that he and Iberti are not “selling out” — they’re still planning to maintain control and all the decision-making for the company as it expands. 

A new tidbit: many of the cafes will house “Geisha Bars,” where you'll be able to taste and purchase a cup of some of the world's finest Geisha coffees, varietals renowned for their rarity and complexity.

Iron Hill Brewery

Location No. 11 for this Delaware-based brewpub is on track to open in Ardmore before the end of 2014. As of September 22, brewer Paul Rutherford will depart the Chestnut Hill outpost in order to work the new brewhouse, and Chris “Lappy” LaPierre will move over from Maple Shade to replace him.

The Main Line opening will be followed by a twelfth branch, the lease for which is currently being negotiated. Partners Kevin Finn, Marc Edelson and Kevin Davies, who launched their original Newark restaurant back in 1996, have plans to continually add to their stable. It’s possible they’ll reach a point where they open a new one each year. Do we want to live in a world where each town has its own brewpub? Yes, yes we do.


An opening before the end of 2014 is the plan for the next Philadelphia cafe from Nick Bayer’s Broomall-based coffee company. It’s going in at 11th and Locust, and will be followed by two more Philly shops: one in Center City somewhere and a Drexel location that will sport a “one-of-a-kind business model,” whatever that means (probably something cool).

Those three are just a handful of the new ventures the organization has planned. Headquarters will be moved into Philadelphia proper, and the 10,000-sq.-ft. complex will have a huge coffee bar at the center for training purposes, Bayer told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Right now there are 28 Saxbys scattered across 10 states, from New York to DC to Kentucky to North Carolina, and at least nine more cafes in planning overall. 


Since the first location opened on Girard Avenue in 2006, Munish Narula’s line of delivery-focused restaurants have provided Philadelphians with some of the best Indian food in the city. Other areas will soon be able to take advantage of the same combination of speed and quality, because not only are there three New Jersey outposts launching this fall, there are plans for many more.

Branches in Voorhees and Cherry Hill are set to open this month, and a large, 70-seat restaurant will begin serving in East Hanover near the end of October. By 2016, if things work out as Narula envisions, Tiffin will be a regional chain, with a new store launching every two or three months. 

And if you happen to be planning a trip to Kazakhstan in the next few years, look for a Tiffin (or Tiffin counterpart) over there too — though talks are in the early stages, Narula has already visited the country for a scouting visit.


Unless you’ve don’t follow restaurant news and *also* don’t follow sports news, you’ve heard about Tommy Up and Sarah Brown’s burger joint recently. (If not, applause.) The dust-up — wherein Up posted a receipt on Facebook showing at 20-cent tip left by Eagles running back LeSean McCoy — showered attention on the business, but it’s not like the partners have shied away from publicity in the past.

Burgers with fried Twinkies as buns? A "Bacon Cheeseburer D'oh Nut" (above)? Bring on the spotlight. National attention and “strong connections with their customers” were reasons Fransmart was interested in the business. The franchise consulting firm company signed PYT back in February of this year, and plans are progressing for other locations.

Another Philadelphia outpost is very likely, and locations in New York and DC have already been chosen (though not yet released). Boston is next on the list, and possible partners in Portland, OR, and Florida have already expressed interest.

coffee shops
todd carmichael
tommy up
jp iberti