RIM Café Makes French Chocolate Dreams Come True

Filed under: Business,South Philadelphia,Subject Categories |

by Cassie Hepler

RENÉ KOBEITRI of RIM Café and his good friend Philippe Rouah get ready to create another one of René‘s chocolate confections in South Philly. Photos by Cassie Hepler

RENÉ KOBEITRI of RIM Café and his good friend Philippe Rouah get ready to create another one of René‘s chocolate confections in South Philly. Photos by Cassie Hepler

Business dreams can come true. Especially if you have lots of them.

René Kobeitri came to Philadelphia in July 2005 from Nice, France, where the French Riviera sprawls beautifully.

“Everything changed in my life,” he said. “I fell in love with America. I met an American lady in Paris, for two days. She said to come visit her anytime in the US. So I came for two weeks and fell in love with the famous Geno’s Steaks and Joey Vento. I saw the location across from Geno’s at 9th & Federal and knew this was my place. That was my dream and I was going to make it happen.”

“RIM Café” was soon born – after a lifetime of dabbling in the food industry – at the busy 1172 S. 9th Street location in South Philly.

KOBEITRI reinvents an American classic: the icecream sandwich.

KOBEITRI reinvents an American classic: the icecream sandwich.

“I started my business in France in 1982,” Kobeitri explained. “It started with the ‘Rim 7/7,’ similar to Wawa, open 24 hours (it had no front door so it never closed). From there I went into restaurants and catering to the biggest hotels in Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, famous resorts on the Riviera.”

Kobeitri is an inveterate entrepreneur. Once he stumbled upon ownership of a graphic sign and print shop and became a printer by accident. He was the second Apple computer seller in the French Riviera, with a franchise called “MAC MANIA,” and later an internet cafe called “Cyber Mania.”

CHOCOLATE is for cocktails at René’s place.

CHOCOLATE is for cocktails at René’s place.

But food has always been his main theme. In his French home base, Kobeitri explored organic, locally sourced culinary creations at a restaurant called “La Ferme” (The Farm). He’ll eat and cook anything, however: The last business he opened in Nice, three years ago, is “The Cheesesteak House,” founded with his son and daughter.

But he has always dreamed of opening one space where one could experience sophisticated coffee and chocolate at one time.

“It happened to coincide with my vacation in America. God Bless America,” he said. “RIM Café is a coffee/espresso/chocolate experience.”

It is located in the heart of the Italian Market, not the Riviera.

“In France or Europe, there was no way to do it, only in America. In France, you cannot do what you want, in America you can! They’re open minded and there’s no red line in America. You just make it happen,” he said.

“At RIM Café, we make our own creations from coffee and chocolate and of course our famous Sicilian cannoli,” Kobeitri said of his process. “We roast our own coffee in house and grind it fresh. We are famous for our hot chocolate volcano drinks. We start with whipped cream on the bottom, a thick homemade hot chocolate, and top it with shavings of chocolate from our various homemade chocolate blocks,” he said.

If you stop by the café, you will surely see René making crazy creations, like a mad chocolate scientist with tons of tools, a chocolate pottery wheel (in the photo) and more. And don’t be surprised if you are a new-concoction taste-tester.

CHOCOLATE, peanuts and marshmallow are merged in this treat.

CHOCOLATE, peanuts and marshmallow are merged in this treat.

“I think we are all born with an artistic side in our life. But, we are not an artist until you find it. Then you have to find your power and know how to use your power,” he said. “I go back home and get inspiration. My family visits often. They like Philly and hopefully one of my daughters will come to live and work in Philly with me. She just got her certification in ‘Pâtisserie’ and ‘Chocolatière’ (French culinary permits).”

René claims regulars don’t only come in for the quality, as there are many good quality places in the city. They come in for the creative experience – and a good espresso.

“Right now, we are celebrating our new Victoria Arduino Black Eagle VA388. We are honored and proud to be the first to have this machine in the city!” he exclaimed. “Keep watching our Facebook page (RIM Café) for updates for events and times.”

You can also get home delivery chocolates through GrubHub.com if you are feeling extra lazy.
“America’s the only country in the whole world where anything you dream in life, you can make it happen!” he exclaimed.

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