You’ve bought your restaurant. You own the space. It’s yours. You have two floors and several rooms that don’t appear to have any cohesive theme running through them whatsoever. One room looks like an old library from an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre” and one has a bar top that can only be described as a “sexy rainstorm”. When faced with the daunting task of putting this all together with some semblance of continuity, a lot of us would probably have the same reaction: “Uh oh.” Fortunately for Chris and Caitlin Rorer, owners and operators of one of Philadelphia’s newest restaurants, Keen, they have Domenic Loro, a general contractor with a pension for turning tough projects into works of art.
Domenic first met Chris and Caitlin a few years back when they hired him to work on the bathroom in their home. They liked what he did in the most important room in the house so much that they began to talk with him about coming on board to help make Keen a reality. The first informal walk-through yielded positive dividends in the form of countless ideas and plans without a single thing going down on paper. With all of those ideas floating around, the project began to look a little overwhelming, but Domenic was excited by the prospect of taking on such a large assignment.
“It was just a rough run through of ideas with nothing on paper,” Domenic says of the first time he stepped foot into what would become Keen, “but I knew I wanted to have the same wonderful experience I had when I worked with Caitlin and Chris in the past.”
As anyone who as ever tried to build something in Philadelphia will tell you, there are a lot of t’s to cross and lower-case j’s to dot in order to get even the simplest of tasks done. Permits had to be filed and then re-filed, unforeseen things go wrong, and the work itself takes time. The Rorers gave Domenic the go-ahead to be creative and to bring their collective vision to life and he has done so in a style he calls “industrial organic” – a mixing of natural elements with the already-existing aesthetics of a building that has existed in Philadelphia for long before anyone on Team Keen was around. Dom thinks he has found the perfect combination of styles to reflect the diversity of the Rorer’s idea for their restaurant.
“A lot of the things we spoke on from day one were recycled things.” Domenic explains. “I love taking trash or old rusted metal and bringing it back to life. It all started from the doors, the copper, the beams from the building and recreated stuff out of it.” Domenic took that love of salvaging to another level by including a bannister made out of a petrified vine that is over 100 years old as well as using the old kitchen floor to re-finish the tables.
A project of this magnitude takes a lot of time and effort. Bringing so many ideas together to form a place that is warm and inviting as well as eclectic and beyond categorizing is something not everyone can do. The project has taken a little longer than originally anticipated, but Dom looks at it as an opportunity to truly perfect the vibe Keen is striving to attain. Want to know what a “sexy rainstorm” looks like? Domenic can’t wait to show you.