Ardmore's MilkBoy Expands to Philly

The suburban mainstay capitalizes on its food-and-music formula to make a successful transition to the city stage-and-bar scene.

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Joyner and Lokoff had been kicking around the idea of expanding into Center City for quite a while. Then, in June 2009, they were approached by U3 Ventures, owners of a vacant building at 11th and Chestnut streets, directly across from the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital complex.

“It was in the center of the city, and we liked that,” says Lokoff. “It just didn’t make sense to open up another coffee shop, and the one thing that’s cheaper in Philadelphia is getting a liquor license—about one-quarter the cost of getting one on the Main Line.”

In a neighborhood dominated by the hospital, smaller retailers and more than a few empty storefronts, there was clearly a need for some new blood. “U3 structured a deal that would allow us to open with the least amount of aggravation,” says Lokoff.

The final piece of the puzzle was third partner Bill Hanson, a veteran of the food and beverage industry who’s worked with Philadelphia restaurant moguls Steven Starr and José Garces, among others. “He’s been in the business forever,” Lokoff says. “It’s a different animal [for us], and it’s important to have someone who’s familiar with it. Now, we have that same level of expertise with the bar and food as we do with coffee and music.”

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