Green Rascal Design

 
 
Recently, not too recently, I was at a networking event at a little place called Fabio and Danny's Station Cafe. This was their first networking event, I believe. And I was an hour early (oops!). And I should mention this was their Wayne PA location, not their other one - which they're having lunchtime events at but I don't remember what town it is or when since I can't make those.

By day the Station Cafe is exactly what you'd expect, a train station cafe. They have sandwiches and coffee and pop and all the other things you might want on your daily rail commute. That particular Friday evening, however, it had a musical event and us networking too. Well, we tried networking. I saw some of my network and attempted to add to it, but it was difficult.

The music was good. I can't really comment because it was acoustic and not really my thing at all. But the kids had real talent and lots of people were really into the tunes. It didn't make for good networking because it felt rude to talk while they were singing, and for a good portion of the time we wouldn't have been able to hear each other well enough anyway.

We ended up sitting at a table, which made networking nearly impossible. But this was a highly unusual event already, so just went with it. I mean, by this point I think it was more just hanging out with friends than networking.

The cafe would be a good networking venue, but I do have some suggestions. Mostly the acoustics need attention. I'm not sure what they can do, considering this is a small family owned business, and I'm guessing they don't have a lot of discretionary income to make capital improvements. But something soft would help. I'm not sure if a rug is okay to have in such a public place. It might not meet code, or might need to be nailed down, which would probably not be fun to clean. They have art on the walls. Maybe more of that would help. Perhaps hang more soft art, like tapestries or t-shirts for sale or something. The ceiling is very high, and if they can find a way to hang something soft up there that would undoubtedly help.

Besides the acoustics, the layout is good. The cafe is divided up into the business end and the sitting end. I could see networking events taking place more in the seating area, where there aren't any fridges or counters, etc. As it was, that's where the band was situated... So I guess that proves it works spatially. Since this place doesn't serve alcohol, or at least it didn't when I was there, there wasn't any kind of mad crush at the bar. They served coffee, but on a Friday night I'm not sure how popular it was.

I have to say though, that the owners there are incredibly nice and respectful. They let me in an hour early, for crying out loud. I will attend more events there in the future once this new networking group gets rolling.
 
 
One networking event venue I've been meaning to review is the Havana Room in Northern Liberties. I was there recently for a Who'ja networking event, and was happy to go visit the area because it had been a while since I used to wander around there taking photos for studio class.

The Havana Room is attached to the North Shore Beach Club, right across Germantown Ave from the Piazza, a development with lots of shops and housing. The parking situation is still precarious in this neighborhood, but generally it was easy to find after looking online at the Google Maps satellite image. The area has a lot more people now than when I used to visit for school, which means it's safer but more of a pain to go there now.

Approaching on foot, I can tell that the nifty looking wood they applied to the outside of the beach club is a thinly veiled attempt to cover up shoddy masonry work underneath. Since I don't know if this is a new building or an older one, I chose not to hold it against them. If I hadn't been trained in architecture I doubt it would have been noticeable. What did disturb me, however, were the stairs up into the building. The first step is shorter in height than the other steps - by how much I'm not sure but it might be an inch or so - and thus I tripped on the second step. Most people who've never been there probably also trip on the second step because the first step usually sets the pace for the rest of them. Since the first step is shorter, it's quite a surprise to stub your toe on the second one. This might be quite a hazard in the winter if it weren't under a roof! Am I being a bit nitpicky? Yes. But it's not safe and deserves to be mentioned. And it should be fixed!

Once safely at the top of the steps the story changes! The pool is rightthere to the left. (no that was not a typo) It's surprisingly open just through the door. And on the right is the Havana Room. This place is pretty good for a networking event. The space by the entry is large enough for a small crowd, and the ceiling is low enough that the noise isn't unbearable. There are a variety of tables and booths scattered about. The finishes seemed clean and fairly well done. And the colors they chose are dark and soothing.

Their bar is really interesting. It's an irregular polygon in plan, with a nifty offset shaped soffit within. They use the soffit as their menu and have interesting lighting highlighting the back bar area. The only thing I was was there are hooks below the bar top to hang purses because the actual surface area of the bar isn't all that expansive. But at least it is visually interesting!

Beyond the entry and bar area is a wall of storefront style windows overlooking an outdoor eating and performing area which is just down some stairs. (wooden stairs this time, thankfully!) This more intimate area has standard tables underneath umbrellas and trellises and surrounded by potted plants and interesting landscape lighting. They have a small stage area underneath a larger trellis structure suitable for a 3 or 4 piece musical ensemble, which was being more than adequately utilized for the Who'ja event. I liked the ambiance of this space, but most of the networking-event-goers were up in the bar area (of course). It's kinda like the stairs are a barrier between those focused on networking and those interested in food and music...

Other than the architecture, the service was great and the drinks were good. I really liked the appetizers but wished there were more. Naturally, since I don't eat chicken I missed out on a couple offerings. As the evening started to wind down I got myself some guacamole, and it was pretty darn good. I only say that because I was so hungry I wolfed it down without really tasting it. lol.

And I have recommended the Havana Room to a friend who was looking for venues to perform... actually it's for my friend's brother who plays the guitar, but ya know I think it could be fun to have a dj there sometime too. Though I read somewhere that they don't intend to do that type of thing. Anyway, it's worth a visit either for a networking event or in general for fun Cuban dining.