The owners of Beau Monde discuss their Northern Liberties abode.
Who: Jim Caiola & David Salama, owners, Beau Monde restaurant
Where: A rowhome in Northern Liberties
When did you move into this house?
Jim: I moved into this house years before David did, about 1991. I originally moved in as a renter with three other roommates. I eventually bought the home in 1994 and David moved here in 1998.
What changes have you witnessed during your decade in Northern Liberties?
Jim: When I bought the home all my friends laughed at me because they thought I was spending way too much money. But it was purchased under the premise that the property would increase in value due to future development. That development really just began three years ago. The house has now tripled in value. Almost every house on this block has been gutted and additions have been made over the past few years. When I first moved to Philadelphia, I thought Northern Liberties was one of the most depressing places I had ever seen.
There are many interesting finishes throughout the house. Were these do-it-yourself projects?
Jim: David is an interior painter.
David: I started doing display work for Urban Outfitters and then moved into decorative painting--furniture, walls, murals. I had a business in faux finishing for 10 years before opening the restaurant in April 1998.
Was the idea of opening a restaurant conceived under this roof while the two of you were living together?
David: We weren't living together when we made the decision. We built the restaurant in roughly five months and then two weeks before the opening, we decided that I would move in.
Jim: We couldn't afford two rents.
David: I still have things in boxes downstairs.
Jim: We're actually getting ready to move above the restaurant soon.
So home life and work life will literally be on top of each other?
Jim: It's going to be a penthouse that's twice as big as this house with a deck as big as the restaurant. It's exciting because we're doing every element of it, although it hasn't all come together yet. We're hoping to move in this winter.
And what will be the likely fate of this house?
Jim: I don't know if we're going to sell it. I think for the first couple months we will keep it. I'm nervous to let go of this house. I don't even know how we'll like living above the restaurant. If in six months we're not happy, then we could rent the apartment and move back here.
Do you find it difficult to live and work together?
Jim: During the first year of the restaurant, we had no time to develop a relationship at home. We were at work about 20 hours a day. We still don't coordinate our time together as well as we could. Another reason for moving upstairs from Beau Monde is to find more time.
You have an interesting collection of items in your home.
David: Everything has a story. We didn't buy anything from a store.
Jim: Some things are trash-picked.
What has this space come to represent to you?
David: We used to have a dinner party twice a week and in the summer three barbeques a week. Now it represents the end of the day.
Jim: Now that we own a restaurant, it has become a place of a solace. Our energy levels for entertaining have decreased. We're usually never home. Even on our days off, we're at Beau Monde.
Beau Monde is located at 624 S. 6th Street, 215-592-0656.
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