Over at 22nd and Lombard in the Fitler Square sub-neighborhood of Rittenhouse, you’ll come across a hideously unfortunate-looking commercial building on the intersection’s northwest corner. For the longest time, the space, which was clearly an operating bar, judging by its outdoor patio furniture, was nameless. Or at least it was to those that never frequented the establishment. I’m sure the dive has always had its regulars who likely knew the name of the place they frequented, but the space’s uninviting facade, characteristically closed off to the public realm, wasn’t exactly screaming for newcomers to come in and grab a drink or meal. To put it mildly, the bar, judgment on its atmosphere and food/drinks aside, has been known as an eyesore in a neighborhood known for its quaint corner stores and outdoor eateries.
Well, now everyone officially knows the name of this establishment: Doobies. In what appears to be an effort to improve the facade they clearly have not invested in for some time, the bar owners recently hung a sign to officially let patrons and non-patrons alike know the name of the bar. And to boot, the sign is…wait for it….dramatically lit.
This improvement, although a step in the right direction, is not enough. We get it – the bar’s allure is its closed off, private nature. It’s a dive after all. But this is not a good enough excuse to allow visual blight to fester in an otherwise beautiful neighborhood. Gay bars have been leading the way on this issue for some time, removing the windowless, shameful facades that came to define them for the past 40 years, and instead installing large windows, clear points of entry and other positive urban traits.
Doobies could afford to do the same. With the new sign, the owners are showing their willingness to invest in their property a bit. But it isn’t enough – ya can’t polish a turd. The entire facade needs to be reworked and larger windows need to be installed. Only then will Doobies (maybe consider a re-name too) add vitality and urbanity to the neighborhood.
-By Greg Meckstroth for PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com
Photos by the author