A peek ahead at SOMO SoPhi, opening this spring in South Philly

Not too many restaurateurs are also restaurant designers.

James Morrissey of Morrissey Design, who owns SOMO in Manayunk, is planning his second spot, SOMO SoPhi, expected to open in mid-April at 13th Street and Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia.

He and M Architects, of which he is a partner, are working to transform the old Medora’s Mecca into a sleek, environmentally forward restaurant, bar, lounge and nightlife concept, in partnership with Jahri Evans, the Green Bay Packers all-pro guard, and his wife, Takia.

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A rendering of SOMO SoPhi, top, and a Google image of Medora’s Mecca from 2016.

Morrissey passes along some design notes:

The exterior is finished with a monochromatic color scheme — a peppercorn gray — with diffused oak nautically inspired lighting kissed with pewter and burnished bronze finish, a traditionally detailed cornice at the top, and Juliet balconies that open from the dining room. There is plenty of outdoor seating, including a raised terrace with a significant view of the city skyline, and café seating separated by sidewalk planters for up to 40 diners on the expansive sidewalk along Packer Avenue. The exterior’s decorative emblems and logos pay homage to storied Philly sports teams of today and yesteryear, including all of the teams that play in the region today as well as the former Philadelphia A’s, Warriors, Stars and Firebirds. The number “73” facing 13th Street is a nod to partner Jahri Evans’ jersey number as a Green Bay Packer, New Orleans Saint, Bloomsburg Huskie and Frankford High Pioneer. A “green” living screen wall provides a visual and sound buffer to the neighborhood and abutting property.

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First floor of SOMO SoPhi, in a rendering.

The first floor, a “luxed-up” rendition of SOMO Manayunk, is a 1,900-square-foot bar and lounge with large flat screen TVs. The décor entails a combination of raw and refined materials that are conjoined with industrial elements such as a square-cut timber bar face topped with a solid marble top; an exposed wood joist and cork ceiling; a suspended ladder staircase floating above a glass wine display rack; antique mosaic tiles inlaid into a concrete floor; a steel drink service rail inspired by hand-forged industrial construction tools; hemp drapery; decorative blackened metal foot rails; pendant lighting on the bar and LED linear channel ceiling lights. And live moss carpets the back wall, softening a pop of greenery in the industrial-chic space.

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Second floor of SOMO SoPhi, in a rendering.

The focal point of SOMO SoPhi’s second floor is the cocktail bar adorned with gray quilted leather – the look harkens back to a turn of the century steamer trunk. A state-of-the art open chef’s kitchen framed with antique bubble glass faces the 80-seat dining room outfitted with custom designed solid walnut tables, upholstered chairs, and herringbone wood pattern flooring. The lighting features Steampunk inspired pewter globe chandeliers. The ceiling is lined with an acoustical material with a linen finish, with exposed beams and columns throughout. In addition, an antique mirror ceiling and board-formed concrete walls recreate a time-worn yet modern feel, which is juxtaposed with the blackened metal finishes that adorn the entire space.