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Dateline: hArt Lounge, East Village.

Harsh Bohra was a typical starving 3rd year student at downtown’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design when he had an idea.

Not for a new city hall, or a Bridge to Nowhere, but for a place to hang out and kick back at after the grueling morning classes.

Because here, on Park at F Street, it's been pretty much a coffee desert. The nearest Starbucks is about 5 blocks away.

“Then Max Deli, this liquor store/grocery right across from the school, that had been going at least 30 years, became available. We jumped,” Harsh says.

He, Arturo González, a young entrepreneur he met in Max Deli, and Alex Guiterrez, an architecture grad, joined forces and gutted and redesigned the place as ‘hArt Lounge” (Harsh + Arturo), a coffee/hookah/sandwich/art supplies place that would be open when students needed it most. Like from midday to midnight. (It's at 734 Park Boulevard, 619-519-7569.)


“There was like 30 years of accumulated stuff in there. Horrendous,” says Harsh. “But a good design exercise for us, in the real world.”


Part of the welcoming design: a mural

Arturo says his dream for the place has always been for it to become a place of, like, “intellectual ferment,” where students can rage against the system and argue outrageous architectural ideas that might not cut it in class.


Trolley on Park blocks view of architectural school, across Park Ave

Also where they can get cheap paninis and sandwiches.

Fast-forward a year: they still haven’t got their kitchen together, but Harsh (who came over as a student to NSA from Mumbai, India) says they should have it up and running in “three to four weeks.”


Geisha guards coffee counter

And not only that but a wine and beer license by then too. And a month after that, permission from CCDC (Centre City Development Corporation) should happen for chairs, tables, umbrellas out on the nice wide sidewalk. That’ll be a first for Park Boulevard, for sure.

Meantime, at least you’ve got a little oasis of coffee, interesting yak, wifi, occasional live stage acts, and a moment off your feet as you hike the desert of Park Ave. up to Broadway.

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