PHOENIXVILLE — Although Eli Wenger is selling Steel City Coffeehouse, he’s not about to see it become a Starbucks.
“Ultimately, the only option we see is to sell the place to someone who wants to continue it in a similar capacity,” said Wenger, who co-owns Steel City with his father, Glenn. “In other words, if Starbucks wants to buy us, we won’t sell. I have put everything I have into this place and will only sell to someone who recognizes just how important a place this is to the community and wants it to continue.”
A co-owner of the self-proclaimed “finest coffeehouse in the galaxy” since 2010, Wenger has worked there since 2007 but is now looking to sell the venue which hosts many local acts.
Recently married, Wenger said he is moving to Maine with his wife, Erin, for “an amazing work opportunity” she has there and to be closer to friends.
“We made the decision for real last week but Erin and I have been talking about moving to Maine for over a year,” Wenger said.
Wenger is “looking to sell but we are not going out of business.”
A Craigslist ad online showed that the current selling price for Steel City and all its furniture, equipment, website and other business essentials is $225,000.
The sale is for the business only and does not include the building housing it.
There has been some interest in buying the business, Wenger said, but it’s still early in the game and the move to Maine is not immediate.
“Selling Steel City would simply be the first step toward this eventual goal that could take two to three years,” Wenger said.
Steel City has been present through much of what many have called Phoenixville’s renaissance and Wenger said he’s proud of the role he and his Bridge Street business have played in that.
“I love this place and when it was going to close in 2010, we stepped in to make sure that didn’t happen,” Wenger said. “We then completely remodeled many aspects of the venue from the chairs and wall paint to the kitchen, sound system and front of the building mosaic. While I think the core has remained intact, we’ve worked hard to make sure its the kind of place that offers something to everyone.”
When asked about any specific, special memories he might take from Steel City when it eventually is sold, Wenger said he enjoyed “watching the progress of the younger artists.”
“Big-time concerts can be fun, don’t get me wrong,” Wenger said. “But it’s watching 16-year-olds writing their first songs, releasing their first CDs, playing their first full band shows, just getting better and better and growing artistically, that’s what I love being a part of.”