The first Green Line Cafe opened in 2003 at a the corner of a major intersection in West Philadelphia’s vibrant University City neighborhood. Co-owners and brothers-in-law Daniel Thut and Douglas Witmer transformed a neglected historic storefront property into a bustling community hub. Since then we have transformed two more West Philadelphia storefront properties into neighborhood coffeehouses. In 2011 we opened a coffee kiosk inside the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at The University of Pennsylvania, and in 2012 we established a coffeehouse in Center City. As a local, family-owned business we strive to be a positive presence in the community where we live and work. The Green Line name comes from the trolley systems hat fans out through the West Philadelphia neighborhood.
Our business goals are:
1. To establish great places for the community to meet and hang out. To this end we serve excellent coffees, teas, and a variety of other quality foods, and emphasize friendly, welcoming service to all.
2. To be good neighbors. We hope our presence strengthens the viability of our local neighborhood by providing jobs/livelihoods in a healthy workplace, by maintaining the attractiveness of our shops and surroundings, by attempting to locally source as much of our food products as possible, and by offering our support to local community groups whenever we can.
3. To think globally. We serve an international population. Our main product, our coffee, would not come to us without the hard labor of people in far-away places. The Green Line is committed to serving fairly-traded, organic coffees, and to educate the public on fair-trade principles. We also aim to be gentle on the environment. We recycle anything we can, and use non-toxic, non-hazardous cleaning products.
4. To promote creative expression and ideas by supporting local musicians, artists, activists and thinkers with in-house events and by supporting other neighborhood cultural events.
Meet the owners
Daniel Thut grew up in northern Indiana and moved to West Philadelphia in 2000, after having lived and worked in Guatemala for six years. Dan’s entrepreneurial spirit, organizational mindset, and all-around “handyman” skills keep the Green Line moving forward without physically falling apart. Dan holds a BA in History with an emphasis in Peace and Conflict Studies from Conrad Grebel College in Kitchener, Ontario. He is active in community-based development efforts in Philadelphia and Central America. His Canadian college years fueled his current enthusiasm for the Flyers. He’s also an accomplished Bluegrass guitarist. He lives in University City with his wife and two children.
Douglas Witmer is a Lancaster County, PA native and moved to West Philadelphia in 1995. Prior to opening the Green Line Cafe, Douglas practiced his latte art daily on his home espresso machine…after all, the art is important. Douglas holds an MFA in Painting from The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts and his abstract paintings are exhibited around the world. Douglas works with the Green Line staff to keep the cafes looking, sounding and tasting awesome. In addition to his own artwork, Douglas curates art shows for The Green Line and other venues around Philadelphia. He enjoys making “noises” with his guitar and computer, tinkering with cheap bikes, and watching the Phillies. He lives in University City with his wife, three children, and his dog Freddy.