Locust Street cafe closed as co-owner faces multiple charges

Posted on 12 December 2012

cafe clave

Update: A former employee said last night that Café Cláve will close permanently. This is sad for a couple of reasons. First, they had good coffee and a good atmosphere that contributed to the diversity of cafés in the neighborhood. Secondly, that building has been in their family for a long time, since Gooch’s father, Carlos, ran an electronics shop in the same space in the early 1960s. Carlos is still listed as the primary owner of the building though he died several years ago. Café Cláve was, in a way, a homage to Carlos and Norma, who were well-known on the Salsa dance scene in Philadelphia.

Many readers have been asking what has happened to Café Cláve, the popular Cuban-themed coffee shop at 4305 Locust Street that has been closed for several days. It’s not good news. Shop co-owner Armen Terzian, known by many as “Gooch,” has been charged with a variety of crimes stemming from an incident late last month.

Terzian, 41, has been charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, possession of an instrument of crime, terroristic threats and simple assault. He allegedly brandished a machete and uttered several racial slurs during an argument with another man who was cleaning the street outside the shop on November 28.

Police issued a warrant for Terzian’s arrest soon after the incident. Terzian, who was on probation, turned himself into police on Sunday, according to court records.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 24. No word on when (or whether) Café Cláve, which Terzian co-owns with his mother Norma, will reopen.

31 Comments For This Post

  1. Stacey Says:

    I’ve never been to Cafe Clave, but haha, this guy has the same nickname as Arnold Jackson’s bully on Diff’rent Strokes.

  2. Andrew Says:

    The one time I went there with my gal, we had a fine time. Afterwards, she realized that her bag had been pick-pocketed.

  3. ME Says:

    (edited. Needless to say the commenter doesn’t care for the subject of the story).

  4. Ben Says:

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug

  5. rgl Says:

    i love cafe clave despite gooch, and i feel awful that this shitty person has put his employees out of a job. clave was a great place to study and get food, and i did appreciate that they weren’t as uptight about letting neighborhood residents who couldn’t afford to buy things come in to have a place to sit and have some water during the summer. since his mother is always hovering around micromanaging, i don’t see why she can’t just run the business- it can only improve without gooch taking money from the register, cursing at and intimidating people, and making everyone uncomfortable.

  6. philly Says:

    What a spazz..

  7. Christina Says:

    i know gooch had an addiction prob but i also know he battled back, which is not an easy thing to do. i don’t know what happened with this alleged event and i’m not saying it didn’t happen, but i’m not going to take the easy shot like Ben. the neighborhood likes Clave and that’s a bummer. I hope Norma keeps the cubanos coming.

  8. Mike V. Says:

    The neighborhood may like Clave, but the neighborhood doesn’t like Gooch.

  9. E Says:

    I agree with Mike V.

  10. thos Says:

    On a related note, does anyone know why the P&P grocery closed?

    On another related note, does anyone know the story on ‘Caspers’ on Baltimore? I just to shop there, but it was would be closed randomly. Now it has been closed for several months, but it looks like there is still stuff inside.

  11. Lo Says:


    P&P closed because the property owner sold the building.

    Ive been wondering why Clave has been closed. Thats really a shame because its nice to have an alternative to Green Line.

  12. L Says:

    What a shame. Clave was awesome, delicious, and the perfect quiet work space. Can’t say I’m surprised at the reason behind it being closed, though. Poor Norma.

  13. LW Says:

    Yes it’s a shame for everyone else affected. I used to go there a lot. Nice coffee.

  14. ILJ Says:

    I worked there briefly and that guy was definitely creepy towards all females (except for his mom). It was my favorite cafe for a while, though. I hope Norma can get it back on track.

  15. CE Says:

    I knew Gooch when he wasn’t this person. He was so amazingly cool, charming & charismatic. I hope it’s not too late for him to get the help he needs.

  16. Justin Says:

    P & P closed, sadly, because the owners, a nice couple who always stocked rare Thai soap operas and relatively recent Thai newspapers, moved back (to retire) near Bangkok. They had been thinking about it for a while and the sale of the building and probable rent increase, finally pushed them to retire. They always gave my children treats and were one of the consistently good places to shop over the past 20+ years. They will be missed.

  17. margems Says:

    Re Casper’s: I spoke to a guy who was working there. He said that Casper was having health issues and that the store likely would not reopen.

  18. GoldenMonkey Says:

    Thanks for the info Justin. I was sad to see them go. I used to get great advice about making curries from them. They were pretty shocked to find this farang making his own from scratch, so they did all they could to help me.

    I use the large Thai grocery on Washington now.

  19. ana Says:

    Maybe we need to reach out to Norma, tell her we appreciate Cafe Clave and maybe we could even help keep it open.
    How to reach her?

  20. KT Says:

    I did not think that Gooch ran the joint- though he certainly made it really hard on his barristas to do their job- and on the Clave patrons to enjoy the cozy space and great empanadas that Norma makes. Wasn’t it their son – the guy who runs the salsa parties- that really ran the cafe?

    Either way- my heart goes out to Norma and the employees at Clave. It was one of my favorite places- even though they kept firing my favorite barristas.

  21. christina Says:

    i loved hearing the music wafting through the air on thursday nights! a unique feature of the neighborhood. Don’t go!

  22. Andrea Says:

    Either find a buyer that will keep the cafe the same or someone reach out to Norma to see what can be done to keep the cafe alive! You usually see business’ leave because of the costs of rent but this story is just sad. I don’t want to see them go. 🙁 (I don’t like Green Line)

  23. Liam Says:

    her son who ran the salsa nights is this guy. Did you ever actually go to the salsa and see the tweaked out guy who could not sit still? Now you know. I would say salsa was gooch’s second passion in life.

    Gooch really didn’t put any effort into battling his addiction, except for maybe going to rehab to dodge jail and pretending to go NA meetings to keep up the illusion of sobriety. 3 months of sobriety in 11 years isn’t really the ol’ college try. Especially considering that he was in jail for those months.

    Also, this place is probably not going to reopen as clave. Mostly because Gooch sold a bunch of equipment in the days after this place closed, and Norma isn’t going to replace it.

  24. King Cheetah Says:

    I’ve been wondering why Clave has been closed when I drove/walked by the past week during ordinary business hours. Even though I think the staff could use some customer service skills training, it gave me a nice quiet place to study – unlike Green Line where the baristas have their music on max volume when people are in there trying to study. I guess that just leaves Kaffa and Saxbys as the only other options now.

  25. LW Says:

    I thought the Cafe Clavé staff were great. (Yes, I’m talking to you!) Low key music. In the evening, none of this starting to take the place down an hour before closing, switching off the machines, and staring at you. It seemed to be the same people there a lot. The atmosphere was cosy. There was some good food. Nice couch.

    Heh, I need to find another home!

  26. Caroline Says:

    Will miss all you baristas more than I can say! If you want, find me on Facebook so we can keep in touch. Thanks especially Liam, Zach, Tyler, and new guy Alex. Bri and I are heartbroken! (bri probably wouldn’t want it put that way but I’m in charge of this post!). Wish you guys all the best. (My last name is Owens – just in case you try to FB). Norma – sounds like so many people appreciated this place. Please reach out if there’s anything you think we can do. It made the neighborhood a finer place.

  27. Jessie Says:

    How does a “former employee” know that “Café Cláve will close permanently” ? I’d like more details. How about asking Norma?

  28. Liam Says:

    I think a pretty good indication that Norma has no intention of reopening is the fact that she sold the espresso machine.

  29. Ella Says:

    @King Cheetah

    Lovers and Madmen on 40th & Ludlow and Earth Cup on 45th & Pine are also pretty cozy spots.

  30. Syrinx Says:

    I wonder what could fill that space… It’s a shame what happened. I would go to Clave years ago.

  31. Grace Says:

    good. gooch was violent, harassed the women he hired, stole from his own store, his own mother. he was in and out of court for assault charges that always seemed to mysteriously be dropped. may have something to do with the assault charges brought up against one of the guys who worked there, which were also mysteriously dropped. attacking cops and homeless guys, that’s cool with people because hey, the coffee’s good. in the latter’s case, kicking and choking your girlfriend, that’s REALLY cool because hey, the atmosphere’s chill and he plays good music.

    the place was a haven for scot-free abusers.

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