Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Ground House, Pitman

Things have changed a lot in Pitman since the old days. Obviously there's much much less of the summer-camp fundamental Methodism that the town was founded on, but more subtly you can now see actual people of other races walking down the street, not looking a bit nervous. This is a good thing, if a little startling for those of us who grew up seeing nothing but white Christians around town (and feeling a little odd since we were secretly not one of them).

The Ground House is another indication of how much things have changed. It's a real, live coffeehouse, totally refitting the spaces formerly occupied by the little gym and another little store on the south side of Broadway. The owners go way out of their way to make it interesting, active, and a social magnet for youth. There are live performances several nights a week (comedy Wednesdays, open mic Thursdays, bands or other performers on Fridays and Saturdays), there's food, there's coffee, and there's BYO alcohol (not sure about the propriety of that one, but they're still open, and it's a good thing, so let's let it be). EOIPwJ has stopped by a few times, and the EOIPwJ parents are regulars, so we can review based on multiple visits for a change.

The slogan here is "The taste brings you back". At first I thought this was bad grammer, but now I'm thinking it's just bad marketing because it negates the consumer's choice in the matter. No matter what you do - that devious ol' taste is gonna bring you back regardless. Another interesting element of marketing is the artwork that they have on the walls. With regrets, I cannot credit the original artists and I apologize for posting these inferior reproductions of their originals. The Japanese-themed one is particularly good.

Well, here's the kinda cafe that it is - dark walls, couches, tables, the aforementioned stage, but also a largish coffee, grill and cooking area. There's a pretty full menu for a place like this. Here's an odd thing - they've got a TON of staff, to the point where you have to wonder if they've got a viable business model. For the sake of downtown Pitman, I hope so. Here's another odd thing: they appear to be so disorganized that it takes ages to get anything (5 minutes for 2 sodas?). It's very craftsmanlike, which isn't quite what you need from casual food. This isn't a bad thing if you've got time to spend on it, because they're trying to enforce high quality.

Here's a high-quality vegetable panini (for those more Italian-minded members of the audience, it's not as weird as it sounds to call something a panini in Pitman. There are many, many Italians in South Jersey, to the extent that we'll surely be featuring a red-sauce-and-pizza Italian place before the week is out.). The panini is so high-quality that all the vegetables are cooked to order before insertion (sandwitchization). I don't know if they cut the eggplant, zucchini et al fresh as well, but just cooking to order seems like a sufficiently time-consuming approach. Still, produces good results. On the right, a sometime passion of mine, hazelnut Italian soda (shots of syrup, splash of milk, fill with seltzer), as good as ever; hard to go wrong with this type of beverage.

Well then, The Ground House. Working hard to make downtown Pitman more interesting, and serving some OK food in the process. Let's hope they're not overextended and they can keep it together for a few years at least. In case you forgot where we were reporting from, here's a little reminder, courtesy of the Ground House artwork. That underwear can't be comfortable.
As for 'bad grammer', I like writing 'grammer' that way.

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