In 2000, Tom Woltjen, Sr. and his wife Dina opened Mercer Café at 2619 Westmoreland Street in Port Richmond. Their children, Liza Bello and Thomas Woltjen, Jr., have grown the business, earning loyal customers with their dedication to gourmet comfort food adapted from family recipes. Expansion felt like the natural next step after 15 years in business. Now the family will open a second Mercer Café at The Navy Yard, adding to the amenities on campus for its 11,500 employees and the local South Philadelphia neighborhood.
Mercer Café, located at 15th Street and Kitty Hawk Avenue in The Navy Yard, will have its grand opening on May 6. The restaurant will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mercer Café will also have special hours on Sunday, May 3, for the Broad Street Run.
“Creating a comfortable gourmet eatery and carrying the legacy of my family’s traditions is a dream come true for me,” said Mercer Café Co-owner and Manager Liza Bello. “Mercer Cafe is passionate about sharing the family’s authentic recipes with fellow neighbors in The Yard this season, from my grandmother’s famous crab cakes to my grandfather’s creamed chip beef.”
If that isn’t enough to excite Philly foodies, this will: Mercer Café at The Navy Yard will serve Tacconnelli’s pizza, made fresh daily in brick ovens imported from Italy.
Dina Woltjen’s family is known for their Tacconnelli Pizzeria in Port Richmond, where pies are made daily and in such demand that you have to order first thing in the morning to secure your pie. The Tacconnelli family has been making pies since 1948. Dina Woltjen and her brother Vincent Tacconnelli are advisors and master pizza bakers. “Hungry tenants will not have to pre-order their pizza dough, and can eat in or take out,” Bello said.
Now the two institutions will be under one roof. In this new location, Mercer Café will offer its well-known breakfast and lunch menu, and will also offer La Colombe coffee, a grab-and-go market, lunch delivery, and corporate catering.
Thanks to a redesign by James Beard-nominated architect Joshua Otto of Otto Architects, the former bank is now a restaurant that seats 90. The one-story building has been dramatically transformed both inside and out. Taking cues from the refined grittiness of its surroundings in The Navy Yard, a new, modern façade clad in weathered metals and woods will present a bold public face. Large windows and doors will increase daylighting throughout the interior, allowing the dining room to open to the outdoors. The dining room provides open seating and a diner counter, all beneath a ceiling of exposed joists. During the warm weather, the café will offer outdoor seating.
The Navy Yard is a vibrant mixed-use 1,200-acre urban campus that is filled with creative energy, innovative ideas, a rich history and a vibrant waterfront. It is home to more than 11,500 employees and 145 companies in the office, industrial, manufacturing, and research sectors. PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, is the master development of The Navy Yard.
“Welcoming Mercer Cafe to The Navy Yard is another exciting development for the campus. We know our employees and the neighborhood will enjoy this new dining amenity, with gourmet home-cooked food in a warm environment,” said Will Agate, PIDC’s Senior Vice President, Navy Yard Management and Development. “Mercer Café’s friendly atmosphere will add to the community feel of The Navy Yard.”