Martha and Inspire have a lot of things in common - most notably, our love for our neighbors. Read our interview with Jon Medlinsky to learn more about how Martha masterfully manages their restaurant’s sustainable, locally focused ecosystem of artisans, customers, and community contributors.
This building is absolutely incredible. Do you know the history of it?
This couple block radius was once Weisbrod & Hess, which was a brewery in the late 1800’s. This particular building was their metal shop, so they would make the rings for their barrels here among other things. Just down the street, Philadelphia Brewing Company occupies their bottling line and stables. When I came across the space, it was completely abandoned and run down and it took a decent amount of work to build it out, but we knew it would be beautiful and we were excited about reusing it and giving it a new life.
Is this your first time being a small business owner? What do you like about it?
This is my first endeavour as a small business owner. There are three people involved; the other two are Cary Borish and Michael Parsell, who are both local property developers. I would say the best part for me is being able to have the freedom to do what I want and create what I want. I wanted to create a system that benefits all of the participants — the employees, customers, purveyors, the neighbors, the owners — and make a sustainable ecosystem out of this business. It’s been like a really interesting and challenging game of tetris. But, honestly, my real favorite part is ordering and putting away beer.
Nice! Tell us more.
We have a really flexible draft system here. Right now, for example, we have 14 beers, 6 wines, 2 kombuchas, and 2 cocktails all on tap. Early on we sought out to not be any “one type of bar” — we wanted to be good at wine, and beer, and cocktails — a totally balanced approach. It’s all locally focused, too. One of the things I am most proud of is our local spirit program, where we only provide cocktails to customers made with Philadelphia spirits.
Why the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia?
This is a neighborhood filled with people who make things. It is a supportive and open minded community who we knew would be totally receptive to a place that served things like natural wine, sour beers, and menu filled with pickled vegetables. We knew this neighborhood and the people in it were capable of supporting our vision. The prevailing wisdom among restaurant owners is to make location your last decision, which is completely the opposite of what we’ve done here at Martha. We built a business around this building and this community of neighbors.
Besides using Inspire as your electricity supplier, how else do you participate in sustainability?
We try to be very sustainable system, mind you probably in small, humble ways. One of the most important ways is by making the food menu incredibly round. The best example I can give you is this: we wanted to make a stuffed pepper dish, so we cut the tops and stems off of these cherry peppers, pickled them, and stuffed them with cheese. Then, we took those tops and stems and made an incredible hot sauce out of them. In making that hot sauce, we took the powdered reminence at the bottom of the pan and created a spice rub. We find that you get a lot of flavor out of things the more love you put into them, and here at Martha, we even love the leftovers.
How does choosing Inspire fit into your vision?
We met Inspire while we were hosting a Small Business Association meeting. For me, it’s all about creating and sustaining that ecosystem I was talking about earlier. I had thought about putting solar panels on our roof, because we do want to be as energy efficient as possible. But, Inspire seemed like the easiest commitment for us to make. As a small business owner, I know I can shop around for the cheapest rate, but I would much rather consistently use renewables.
Also, we love neighbors here and want to involve them in any way that we can. Each Monday we feature different local artisans, brewers, bakers, spirit makers, etc. so that our customers can get to know the people behind these awesome projects happening in their backyard. We thought Inspire fit really well into that circle.
Stop by and sip some local spirits at:
2113 E. York Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125