The Steel Penny Café Story

The Steel Penny Café is a tiny gem hidden in the industrial section of Hatboro, Pennsylvania next to Sullivan’s Scrap Yard.

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Mike Whalen
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Metal & Coffee

Not your typical location for a café, its presence didn’t come easily but its creator refused to give up. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy our story!

Sullivan’s Scrap Yard is a booming scrap metal processing company with two locations throughout Philadelphia. The main location and headquarters is located in the heart of industrial Hatboro. Its size spans three blocks and having been present for 10+ years it is a Hatboro landmark. Sullivan’s Scrap deals with ferrous and nonferrous metal as well as roll off containers and commercial services. You can’t think of metal in Philadelphia without Sullivan’s coming to mind.

Mike Whalen, owner, and operator of Sullivan’s Scrap Yard has never been your typical businessman. Right from the start he set out to do things differently and was never afraid to pursue unconventional ideas.
For years, Mike and staff would serve coffee to customers who came into the Hatboro Sullivan’s location. They enjoyed serving local coffee and soon became known for their standout business approach. Mike a frequent traveler and a coffee snob by his own admission always made it a point to visit coffee shops throughout the country and after each trip would return to Sullivan’s full of ideas from incredible café’s he visited.

One of the things Mike loved about the scrap business was that old things could be repurposed and reused. Something discarded could find new meaning and its beauty re-found. This was often done in spare areas at Sullivan’s (another dream that needed a home). As Sullivan’s grew an onsite building formerly used as an office became available and Mike knew it was time to bring his two loves (metal & coffee) together and ReDefined Café was born.

Redefined Café took a tremendous amount of planning as the first establishment of its kind to be formed in an industrial area. The city embraced the idea and together Mike worked with Hatboro to bring his dream alive. The building underwent extensive remodeling as the business took shape. Mike invested in local businesses by serving local coffee and expanded into light sandwiches and food items. The space featured a comfortable, trendy area for a lunch break, or cup of joe with repurposed items and fantastic antiques for sale throughout as well as a workshop in the rear.

Unfortunately, soon after, the Corona Virus / Covid 19 pandemic gripped the world and ReDefined was forced to close. In typical Mike fashion however, the dream did not die it simply slept.

Steel Penny Cafe is a rare, unique & one-of-a-kind cafe – just like the 1943 coin. Inspired by recycling surroundings, Sullivan’s Scrap Metals and repurposing you need to know about the steel penny.

Story time…Steel pennies were only manufactured for one year in 1943. There was a shortage of brass and bronze since they used the metals including copper (found in brass/bronze) to make shells for artillery during the war effort. Due to the shortage, they needed to still make the penny. They used recycled steel but with problems. They rusted. They are magnetic (and got stuck in vending machines. So the mint recalled 10M or so of them to melt. There are some in rare circulation today.

Our name is almost as unique as our cozy coffee corner where you’ll find hanging lights, funky antiques & a ton of LOVE for all things that keep us caffeinated using La Colombe coffee. Come check us out or order delivery in Hatboro – where we call home!

STEEL PENNY CAFÉ WAS BORN

As Covid finally released its grip on the US and business came back to life Mike thought about how he could once again resurrect his coffee and café dream. Aside from a coffee lover Mike was an avid traveler and foodie, and often visited interesting places with themed café’s and shops that left him feeling inspired. Over time the decision was made to rebrand and reopen ReDefined, with a new name and focus as Steel Penny Café.

Steel Penny Café was a fitting name- incorporating Mike’s love for metal and food. Like the 1943 steel penny (put into circulation due to copper and steel shortages) the Steel Penny Café is a rare hidden gem. From its location to its design and offerings it’s not your average café. The minute you step inside you leave the hustle and bustle of behind you and you are surrounded by a relaxing combination of metal and wood.

As Steel Penny Café’s concept and focus began to form, Mike was on a trip and was introduced to Detroit-style Pizza. Detroit Style Pizza was all the rage with foodies in major cities and tiny trendy towns that couldn’t get enough. Its golden cheese crust and flavor was much different than anything on the east coast and although its rectangular shape was reminiscent of Sicilian pie it’s texture and taste was far different. This introduction would forever make an impression and would form a major focus of Steel Penny Café- Detroit Pizza.

After returning from the trip, an extensive search began for a chef that fit the Steel Penny Café culture as well as a true Detroit Pizza Guru.

Steel Penny Café was thrilled to find Chef Dean. His experience, passion and talent were just what the café needed, and a partnership was born.

If you consider yourself a foodie, then you can’t miss the opportunity to see for yourself what everyone is talking about! The production process is time intensive, so we only create a limited amount daily. Give us a call to order a Detroit Pizza, try Chef Dean’s other great food, and join our tribe.

Learn More About Chef Dean
Learn More About Detroit Pizza
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