A new tenant is scheduled to be announced “sometime next year.”
A new tenant is scheduled to be announced “sometime next year” for the long-shuttered Top of the Hill Market and Mimi’s Cafe, which are located at 184-186 E. Evergreen Ave. along the west side of the parking lot behind the shuttered Wells Fargo bank building at the corner of Germantown Avenue.
In a phone interview last week, property owner Lon Greenberg said he and his wife Bonnie are close to resolving months worth of work with Chestnut Hill Business Association Retail Advocate Ann Nevel to bring a new business into the space. Mimi’s closed last spring and the Market has not had an operating business since 2019.
“We are currently working on bringing something to the community that everyone will be excited about,” Greenberg said. “We have some very good leads.”
“They’re now working with a prospective tenant that, if their project goes forward, will be a terrific addition to the commercial corridor,” said Nevel. “If all goes forward as planned, it’s going to be fabulous, and not just for Chestnut Hill but for the surrounding neighborhoods.”
The Greenbergs, who live in Wyndmoor, have owned the property since 1993. They bought Top of the Hill Market from former owner Challie Gangloff, who ran the store for four years before closing it in 2019.
Both are longtime supporters of the Chestnut Hill retail corridor. Bonne ran a store called Cottontales, which sold decorator fabric and services for the home, until 1993. In 2004, she was one of the founders of the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District and served as its chair in 2009.
Nevel said that Chestnut Hill is lucky the space is owned by people who have “a deep understanding” of the Chestnut Hill community and prioritize its long-term good.
“It’s a joy to work with them. Lon Greenberg is a mensch and, if there were an equivalent to that word for women, it would describe Bonnie,” said Nevel. “They’re collaborative, they’re discerning and they’re very supportive and fair.”
Ideally, Greenberg said, he’s looking for tenants for both spaces that will complement and support each other – as was the initial plan with Mimi’s Cafe.
The ownership team at Mimi’s, which included Culinary Institute of America graduate Carl Drake and Campbell’s Place owners Rob and Vanessa Mullen, also intended to open the former Top of the Hill Market space in late 2019 with a restaurant that would complement the cafe. The COVID pandemic, however, prevented the restaurant from getting off the ground.
The Greenbergs, after giving the owners a discount on rent because of the pandemic, eventually mutually agreed to terminate the lease.
“We had no interest in putting them in any more financial pressure that they were already under,” said Greenberg, who understands the struggles of owning a business during a pandemic. “We give a lot of credit to the owners who tried to keep the business afloat.”
With Nevel’s help, Greenberg said, “a number of people” have come through to look at the property. Greenberg, however, said he’s being “choosy” with who leases the spot.
“We are the kind of landlords who want long-term tenants that the Avenue needs and values,” Greenberg said. “We’ve been working hard to find that concept, and we’re working with people to try to develop and finance their concept and ensure that it’s the concept that we’d want in the community.”
Part of that, Bonnie Greenberg said, is acknowledging Chestnut Hill’s changing demographics.
“It’s younger families,” she said, “and we feel that they need to be represented by a good variety of stores and restaurants, so that’s what we’re aiming for.”
And that, Bonnie told the Local, means asking their children for advice.
“They’re telling us what they think the community needs as well,” she said.
Evergreen Cheese Chestnut Hill and neighborhood tailor Manuela’s are also located in that cluster of retail spaces, and both will be staying open. Architect John Andrews also has an office above the building that formerly housed Mimi’s.