Lizette Apy and Brandon Warrick opened Thunder Mug Cafe merely two months before the pandemic disrupted our lives. However, three years later, their cafe stands strong on Ridge Avenue, thriving against the odds.

Eight years ago, Lizette and Brandon set out on a journey, leaving Chicago behind for Philadelphia. Motivated by a shared love for food, music, and fostering community, they chased Lizette’s long-held dream of opening a neighborhood cafe. “I cafe’ed my way through college and I always loved it,” says Lizette.

As they opened the doors in September 2019, they were soon met with an unforeseen challenge—the COVID-19 pandemic. Determined to succeed, they embraced adaptability, learning to pivot in the face of uncertainty, switching to online orders and handing coffees to customers. The East Falls community returned with unwavering support.

Reflecting on their journey, Lizette and Brandon emphasize the pivotal role of adaptability in business: “Your greatest skill as a business owner is the ability to pivot. You have to have a vision, but you have to be able to change.”

Since then, Thunder Mug Cafe has become a gathering place for families, friends, and creatives alike. Lizette and Brandon stuck to their vision of creating a welcoming space that makes patrons feel at home. The cafe’s engaging events, including open mic nights and book club meetings provide a gathering space for East Falls. 

As Lizette shares, “I like to think that when people come to Thunder Mug, they feel like family. Oftentimes, we’re the first person someone sees in the morning, and we take seriously how we can positively set the tone for their whole day.”

This dedication to the community caught the attention of the 76ers annual Buy Black Program as they were chosen as the 2022 recipient from over 700 applicants. As an official partner of the Philadelphia 76ers, Thunder Mug received expert marketing consultation, advertising, and promotion to the 76ers fanbase. 

Last December, Thunder Mug unveiled an expansion, complete with additional seating, local artwork, and new menu items like soups and Kismet Bagels. The views of Inn Yard Park and nearby Kelly Drive further enhance the space. 

In the next five years, Lizette and Brandon envision extending operating hours, hosting regular live music performances, and potentially hosting small weddings and events.

As Thunder Mug Cafe thrives, it continues to embrace the unknown, eagerly anticipating the limitless possibilities that lie ahead – one cup at a time. 

Everyday East Falls is a series of monthly profiles of the people behind some of our neighborhood businesses. We hope these stories give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for the businesses that call our neighborhood home. 

Have an idea of a business to nominate for Everyday East Falls? Want to interview a business owner? Send a note to to nominate a business for a future edition.

Scroll to Top