Philadelphia's new luxury hotel pays homage to the origins of a beloved coffee empire
The latest entry to Philadelphia's hotel scene is The Logan, a complete reimagining of the nine-story building that formerly housed the Four Seasons. The glass, brass, pomp, and circumstance are long gone, and the 362-room Logan, which opened in December 2015, has a sleek sophistication that gives a nod to its elegant past while focusing on a clean and artistic aesthetic.
This Logan Square spot is hallowed ground for Philly foodies. The restaurant at the Four Seasons, Fountain, was lauded for its French cuisine, and pumped out a slew of top chefs during its 31-year run.
Luckily, amid all the change, another link to the past remains. Guests checking in to The Logan will find a little piece of the Four Seasons and Fountain legacy lives on: a cup of La Colombe coffee.
“La Colombe is forever tied to that hotel,” said Todd Carmichael, La Colombe's CEO and co-founder, in an interview at their flagship cafe in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood. “The Four Seasons was our launchpad.”
Back in 1994, Carmichael and his partner, J.P. Iberti, stormed Fountain's kitchen with freshly roasted beans and one request: “Let us make coffee for Chef.” Back then, "Chef" was Jean-Marie Lacroix. The James Beard Award–winning chef loved the coffee's flavors and the way the artisanal roast complimented his food. This kickstarted a collaboration that effectively pioneered the concept of “culinary coffee.”
Carmichael and Iberti opened their first café in Rittenhouse Square that same year. “There were, like, two restaurants in Philadelphia,” Carmichael says. Fountain was one of them, and together they and La Colombe played a large role in the explosion of chef-driven restaurants and European-style cafés that Philadephia saw in the mid-'90s. “Fountain’s kitchen produced amazing chefs,” says J.P. Iberti. “First Lacroix, then Marty Hamann, Francesco Martorella, Tony Clark, David Jansen, Bill DiStefano. Those guys left Fountain and opened the restaurants that put Philadelphia on the map.”
Even as La Colombe is served in the country’s best restaurants and the company’s reach stretches around the globe, Carmichael remains fiercely loyal to Philly, which you can see in everything from La Colombe's new Port Richmond roasting facility to their reverence for the coffee cart that started it all. Recognizing this, The Logan signed Carmichael as an ambassador.
“I am a stakeholder,” Carmichael said. “I don’t have shares, or anything, but history makes La Colombe a stakeholder in that building. The Logan shows respect for my building, so I turned to them and said, ‘I’m here to serve.’” Right now that service is limited to providing “one damn fine cup of coffee” and some of La Colombe’s new coffee-infused rum, which is featured in cocktails in the lobby bar.
The Logan and La Colombe also share a commitment to giving back. In addition to sourcing the finest fair trade coffee, La Colombe has partnered with The Clinton Foundation to found Haiti Coffee Academy, which is working to help the country increase the yield and quality of its coffee, and to improve local economies.
And The Logan, with a commitment to donate 10 percent of all room revenue to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a non-profit dedicated to building community through gardening, other green initiatives, and education, is taking another step in honoring both the city and the roots of the place it now calls home.