Former state rep. Primary candidate Martino plans to open coffee shop

His desire to open a coffee shop is partially inspired by touring the country with his band, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb.

After Dan Martino’s disappointing loss in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 177 state representative district, he took to Union Transfer to play the drums with his band, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, as they opened for South Philly rockers Low Cut Connie.

At the July 19 Olde Richmond Civic Association meeting, Dan Martino, the tattooed former candidate in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 177th State Representative district, will present his plans to open a coffee house at 2532 E. Lehigh Ave.

“I wanted something like this in the neighborhood for years,” said Martino, whose goal is to open up a spot for the community to congregate that isn’t a bar. “I’ve been trying to open one up for a long time.”

Martino said there’s no real sit-down cafes or diners in Olde Richmond. There’s a few coffee shops in the area, Martino said, but none are within walking distance. His desire to open a coffee shop is partially inspired by touring the country with his band, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, in which he plays the drums. He said some of the best places he’s been to while on the road were the mom-and-pop shops that aren’t owned by corporations.

“They care about the neighborhoods and communities,” he said. “You can’t walk into Dunkin’ Donuts and ask where’s the best barbecue in town because they won’t know.”

Martino said he’d plan to also serve food at the shop, including sandwiches, bagels and other “quick grab and go stuff you’d find at a coffee shop.”

Martino, who plans to open the shop with his family, told the Star he’s never run a business before.

Since losing the primary election to Joe Hohenstein, life has returned to normal for Martino. He’s playing shows with TJ Kong, seeing his friends and taking his dog to the park again.

In a way, Martino feels it’s his responsibility as a community leader to help create economic activity in the area.

“In a way I’m sort of putting my money where my mouth is,” he said. He added his family and neighbors have been “very enthusiastic” about his plans to open a shop.

On Tuesday night, Martino became the new vice president of ORCA. He was previously the organization’s secretary.

The ORCA zoning meeting where Martino will present his plans will take place on July 19 at 7 p.m. at Cione Playground, located at 2600 Aramingo Ave. Because the location is zoned residential, Martino will seek a variance to have it zoned commercial.