If you’re a part of the growing number of queers and artists residing in the Port Richmond section of the city, then you’ve either dined at Hinge Café or know someone who has. If you’re unfamiliar: dearest reader, meet Hinge Café, a BYOB full-dining restaurant owned and operated by Chef T De Luca.
Originally from the suburban outskirts of Philly, T De Luca and former partner M.L. Simone opened Hinge nine years ago as a coffee shop and deliberately chose Port Richmond (2652 E. Somerset St.) despite not being from there: “We felt the location embodied many of the great qualities that Philadelphia’s neighborhoods are known for. We began small with light breakfast, and after nearly nine years, have evolved into a full fledge BYOB restaurant,” she says.
The name stands for what De Luca hoped the restaurant would do: bring people together. “By practical definition, a hinge is a natural anatomical joint that brings two things together. Running with this, we felt the café would act as a hub in which good friends, good times and the arts could all connect,” she explains.
The arts are an important part of what Hinge stands for, and the walls are often adorned with diverse visual galleries, from still photography to abstract landscapes. The café accepts pieces and is proud to provide a space for Philadelphia artists to showcase their work.
Hinge began as a small brunch spot, and began serving dinner seven years ago at the suggestion of a customer. The dinner menu changes monthly, and Chef De Luca plays with flavors and ingredients from different regions and seasons in crafting new dishes.
“While I pride myself on the ability to create dishes and menus that are both inspired and adventurous, our customer’s input is very important,” she says. “One of my devoted patrons from the beginning helped name my signature dessert the ‘T Bomb.’ After sampling the dessert (signature chocolate cake topped with layers of toasted buttery pecan crumble held together by hand-made caramel that’s crowned with mascarpone rum mousse coated in a rich gnoche shell), his only response was, ‘T, that was da bomb!’”
The café has an intimate dining atmosphere, but there is also party room that hosts up to 30 guests and is available for rent. On days when the room isn’t hosting a party, it becomes “The Listening Room,” and has been known to act as a studio for the Hinge Employee Band, “The Meat Beaters.”
Chef T De Luca is proud to be both part of the Philadelphia LGBT community and the BYOB culinary scene. “While I may be classified socially as a lesbian because I date women, my sexuality has no bearing on my restaurant,” she explains. “This operation isn’t about me, it’s about my customers. What matters most to me is my ability to provide a comfortable and friendly environment. We see families come in as same sex and more traditional pairings, and I’m proud to be a family-oriented establishment that caters to all creeds.”
One lucky reader has a chance to win a $20 gift card to Hinge Cafe! Simply leave a comment below this post telling us what YOU love about Hinge or why you’re looking forward to dining there, and you’ll be automatically entered to win!
To learn more about Hinge Café and/or view the brunch and dinner menu, visit http://www.hingecafe.com/.
*For one additional entry, follow @Phillesbian on Twitter and leave an additional comment below noting you are following. Please make sure you have a valid email address associated with your username. Contest is open to all residents of the United States. Entries close on Sunday, March 24, 2013, at 3 p.m. Winner will be notified Monday, March 25, 2013.