James Beard Award Winner Chef Jose Garces announces the return of one of his most beloved restaurant and hospitality concepts. Garces Trading Company (GTC) returns this fall as a collection of casual cafes that are part coffee shop, restaurant, bakery, marketplace, wine shop and corporate catering solution. The first new brick-and-mortar Garces Trading Company location will debut in Philadelphia in September at Cira Centre (2929 Arch Street), just steps from 30th Street Station and situated at the gateway to the Schuylkill Yards neighborhood.
The Cira Centre location will feature seating for 130 people, a balcony executive dining room, grab and go offerings, wine shop and marketplace. Additional locations will be announced later this fall. Each location will share a common vision, menu items, marketplace offerings and general aesthetic, yet each location will also shine individually with unique menu and marketplace offerings, plus complimentary vibes and layout to perfectly pair with each unique location and space.
“Garces Trading Company is really special to me,” said Chef Jose Garces. “The concept is centered around an exchange of cultures that neighbors, friends, family members, coworkers and commuters can explore and connect over new dishes and flavors. Garces Trading Company is truly an outpost for foodies that incorporates discovery and connections – and I am excited to bring new life back to the GTC idea but in an all new way.”
When opened, Garces Trading Company will be a new cafe and bistro concept from Latino Chef Jose Garces that builds on the brand’s history, offering casual daytime (and early evening) dining experiences that extend into the dining room, the home and the office. The new concept aims to create connections through food, discovery and community. The refreshed concept and innovative marketing approach positions Garces Trading Company as both a must-visit dining and shopping experience. Working collaboratively while remaining true to Chef’s vision, Garces Trading Company will be the “go-to” destination for friends to connect, visitors to explore flavors and dishes, and all to discover local artisans and unique wares.
Chef Jose Garces will take inspiration from the original marketplace and wine shop concept that first opened back in 2008 and elevate them with expanded offerings from the concept’s virtual return in 2020 as one of Philadelphia’s most ground-breaking ghost kitchens. The new brick and mortar cafes will now be a mix of coffee shop, restaurant, bakery, marketplace, wine shop and corporate catering solution. GTC will start its next chapter with two new locations in Philadelphia that are slated to open this fall, with more in the region to be announced later in 2022.
Every aspect is being carefully considered to ensure that when each cafe opens its doors, it offers a memorable experience that delivers on the GTC promise. Intentionally crafted dining options set the stage for an equally curated catering model, where everything from the takeout packaging to the conference room catering setup has been designed to create a positive dining experience, even if that experience happens at your desk instead of a dining room. The cafes have a timeless feel that puts the focus on what really matters — the food, drink and community — but which don’t just fade into the background.
Garces Trading Company is an everyday experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be exceptional. From the self-evident quality of the ingredients to the carefully curated selection of products to buy, there’s something special about every bite, every moment and every purchase. GTC is elevating the day-to-day without being precious about it. Great coffee without the pretension, great meals served with warmth, not attitude, and an experience that invites guests to relax and trust us to deliver something that’s just a little bit extraordinary.
For the launch of Garces Trading Company, Chef Garces and the Garces Restaurant Group, in partnership with Ballard Brands, has tapped the creative talents of Architect Amy Styre for the first location’s design. Her name may sound familiar, as she is currently working with her design team on the final touches for the unveiling of the new Buena Onda locations.
For the design, look for cafes that are contemporary and driven by purpose, drawing guests in using texture and warmth to create an organic flow through the offerings and areas within. Each space will amplify its surroundings as well as the unique voice of GTC.
For vibes, Styre worked with the teams at Garces and Brandywine to ensure the space incorporated the contemporary state of the art building’s elements into the scheme. The existing concrete bar which stretches into the Lobby was repurposed to the ordering counter with all new equipment, lighting, bamboo patterned carved wood back bar panels, storage and a pastry case. Cafe tables and chairs adjacent to the bar area within the lobby will make for a great place to grab a coffee and pastry or for a full sit-down experience.
A new introduction adjacent to the ordering counter is the marketplace for grab and go items, order pick up and Garces brand delectable for purchase, which was created with thematic king star tile floors, light wood display cabinetry and new drywall ceilings and pin lighting.
Inside the restaurant at the heart of it all is the experiential kitchen, with all new equipment, flooring, and oxidized panel exhaust hood. Surrounding the kitchen is a new custom thematic terrazzo dining counter, hammered metal backsplash tiles, clear glass barriers for watching food prep, bronze under counter wall panels, and a renovated pizza oven.
There are two separate first floor dining areas for large or smaller parties. One has concrete floors and exterior windows with bronze wall sconces and thematic ‘cayenne’ colored columns. The other internal room offers slatted acoustical wood panels, a sliding barn door, and views to the remainder of the restaurant.
New two-story sheer window treatments create a gauze-like effect scrim to the street and 30th Street Station, which offset the natural woven pendant lighting. The floors throughout have been replaced with 2 x 2 concrete look tiles, which anchor the white café tables and black and cane daily dining chairs. Daily dining maintains a light, airy, ethereal feeling.
One level up is the carpeted mezzanine with an atrium room for special parties and seating overlooking the kitchen and restaurant. Dark acoustical wood wall panels, new wood sconces, teal upholstered banquettes with multi-colored pillows, walnut wood tables and leather type upholstered chairs create an executive feel to a quitter more intimate approach.
Built on the idea that every meal should be a great meal, GTC means even a salad grabbed on the run between meetings should be fresh, delicious and made with care and quality ingredients.
Each meal should be built on connections through food. Breaking bread together is only the beginning. GTC is not just creating spaces for people to share a meal or a cup of coffee, the vision is to also build connections between farmers, makers and purveyors with guests, foodies and clients.
The menu is rooted in the welcoming traditions of Chef’s childhood. While GTC dishes take inspiration from around the world, the cafe’s sense of hospitality stems from Jose’s home and hearth. His warmth, sophisticated culinary approach, and commitment to the community are set to shine in every aspect of the Garces Trading Company.
For the menu, look for a strong emphasis for breakfast, lunch and bakery offerings. For the coffee program, GTC will tap Ballard Brands’ own PJ’s Coffee to feature several exclusive GTC signature blends, with additional rotating selections curated by Chef Jose Garces himself. For the bar, each new location for Philadelphia will have a liquor license and offer a full selection of spirits as well as signature cocktails.
Breakfast offerings will feature locally sourced partners, when possible, to promote community connections, and include house-made ensaimadas (Spanish bagels), house made Spanish pastries, croissants, breakfast sandwiches and tacos, plus yogurts, fruit, quiches, overnight oats and other favorites. Breakfast will be counter service and grab-and-go. Lunch offerings will focus on soups, salads, sandwiches, other handhelds and more.
Garces Trading Company and its cafe and marketplace creates opportunities for guests to be curious and explore, checking out the latest seasonal merchandise in the cafes, learning more about our farmers and purveyors, or just trying something other than “the usual”—which is the highest compliment a guest can give.
For the new GTC marketplaces, Garces will team up with Merchandise Food, a local company that specializes in food retail spaces. Garces has partnered with Merchandise Food at Okatshe in Atlantic City, as well as at the original Garces Trading Company location.
The marketplace grab-and-go offerings will include Garces’ famous lavender truffle honey, salsas, tortilla chips, guacamole, spice blends (with uses and/or recipes), hummus, chocolate bars, chocolate covered espresso beans, signature coffees and much more.