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What's Happening in:  Whitman 

Lipkin’s Bakery returns to South Philly

by Sandy Smith

When the Lipkin family started their kosher bakery at Fourth and McKean streets many decades ago, the neighborhood surrounding it was 90 percent Jewish.

Photo from www.lipkinsoriginalbakery.com

By the time Mitch Lipkin moved it to Northeast Philly’s Rhawnhurst section in 1975, most of those Jews had moved elsewhere.

“I think Mitch figured that only Jews would eat their products, so he moved it up to the Northeast, which was heavily Jewish then,” said Lipkin’s current owner, Steven Nawalany.

Nawalany had been a Lipkin’s customer for 50 years, and he liked it so much, he bought it from Mitch in 2016. Now he’s returning the bakery to its South Philly roots because he discovered to his delight that Mitch Lipkin was wrong: you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy kosher baked goods.

 Lipkin’s return to South Philly, with a retail store at 2153 S. Hancock St., has generated an enthusiastic response from the bakery’s many fans, Jewish and otherwise, and it hasn’t even opened yet. Nawalany is awaiting final inspection from the Health Department and expects to open the store’s doors in the next few weeks.

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Weekend events primer – May Day edition

Friday, May 4

  • 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm. 3rd Annual Spirits & History at Gloria Dei (Old Swede’s Church), 916 Swanson St. Hear stories of the Swedish trailblazers now resting at Old Swede’s graveyard while tasting spirits matched to their life-and-times. Food & drink, story telling and jazz. Proceeds benefit the preservation of Gloria Dei Church. Get tickets at the door, or here.

Saturday, May 5th

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Broad Street Run passes through South Philly this Sunday – watch for bus detours and parking restrictions

The 39th annual Blue Cross Broad Street run kicks off in North Philly and proceeds 10 miles south to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.

Spectators are encouraged to head out to Broad Street to watch the race and cheer on the runners.  Entertainment and refreshments are available along the course and at the finish line.

According to the official event website, some of the best places to watch the racers in South Philly include:

  • South Broad Street at Carpenter (High School for the Creative and Performing Arts);
  • South Broad Street at Jackson (South Philadelphia High School);
  • South Broad Street at Bigler Street;
  • South Broad Street at Packer Avenue, one block from Chickie & Pete’s
  • Broad and Pattison at the Sports Complex.

Extra trains, bus delays

Racers are encouraged to park at the Sports Complex and take the Broad Street Line to the race start.  To accommodate the crowds, according to SEPTA, “Participants in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run may ride the Broad Street Line for free before the race and until 9:00 a.m.  Participants must display their official competitor’s race bib number to a SEPTA cashier to gain entry.”

Beginning at 4:10am ten additional Express Broad Street Line Trains will operate every 10 minutes to transport racers from the parking lots near AT&T (Pattison) Station to stops near the race start Olney Transportation Center and Fern Rock Transportation Center.

Many bus routes in South Philly will be temporarily detoured due to the race.  Check SEPTA’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run Service Information page to see which routes will be detoured.  During the race, check TransitView for up-to-date detour information.

Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will provide Broad Street run-related transit, weather and safety information. To receive mobile alerts, text RUNPHL to 888-777 or visit OEM’s ReadyPhiladelphia page.

Parking will be restricted on Broad Street before and during the race – watch for posted signs!

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista 

Looking on the bright CIDER of life

Kerry McKenzie is more than a glass half-full kind of guy. In fact, he’s a glass-is-always-full-guy…full of the hard cider he brews at Hale & True Cider Co. The cidery and taproom opened last week at 613 S. 7th Street. McKenzie, a chipper 29-year-old, smartly credits his wife and partner Risa as the mastermind behind his establishment. “We were already fermenting kimchi and kombucha when we stumbled upon a street fair on South Street and tasted hard cider for the first time.” McKenzie continues, “we were so excited to find out that cider could be something more than sweet!”

Kerry and Risa McKenzie

The couple switched their fermenting work to produce hard ciders, including some of the signature products at their new, 40-seat establishment.  Highlights include their “Standard” made from a mix of six different apples; “Hail to the Hop!” which allows the hops to sit for at least four to five days after fermenting; “Lil’ Sunshine” which has a mix of locally-grown honey and oranges; and “Sail Away” made from mango puree. This last favorite was inspired by the multitude of fresh mango he and his new bride ate on their honeymoon just a few months ago in Hawaii.

Kerry was born and raised in South Jersey, about 40 minutes from the heart of South Philly. He visited the city frequently even before he was able to drive – his parents would drop him off at South Street’s TLA and other hot spots. He met Risa met in college and the newly-married couple now live in Lower Moyamensing.  While scouting for locations it was natural that they gravitated to South Street where their love for cider began.

Kerry doesn’t profess to having a favorite among the many offerings at Hale & True except to say that for him, “drier is always better than sweet! Especially where hard cider is concerned.”

Hale & True has partnered with The Good King Tavern to provide a small menu of light snacks.  The cidery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 10pm, Friday from 4pm to 12am, Saturday 12pm to 12am and Sunday 12pm to 9am.

Hale & True’s interior was designed by USA Architects and Cohere.  The furniture was crafted by Sweetwater Wood Design, owned by Kerry’s father and brother. Photo by Coleman Yunger.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Escape the 1980s on E. Passyunk Ave. to close, residential units coming soon

Escape the 1980s, one of the city’s top escape rooms, will close its location at 1804 E. Passyunk Ave. on June 30th.  The business opened in August of 2015 in a former pharmacy that had been vacant for at least five years. According to a press release announcing the closure: “Building owner Vince DiBacco plans to develop a luxury condo unit[s] and [a] storefront. Construction will begin July 2018.”

Photo of 1804 E Passyunk Ave. captured by Google Street View before the trees were added out front.

The changes to the building required a zoning variance and were vetted at a public meeting of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association zoning committee on January 11, 2017. Plans call for the addition of a third floor to create three dwelling units above the first-floor retail space.  Roof decks (more akin to balconies) would be added to the back of the building above the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors.  The top floor deck is initially permitted for maintenance purposes only.

The presenter, Ron Patterson, attorney for the owner, said the third floor facade will feature “a metal panel with wood slats. Lighting and a small canopy will accentuate the residential entrance.”  The plans were approved by the community and EPX zoning committee.

At the time the plans were presented, Escape the 1980s, which obtained an “assembly and entertainment” permit in 2016, was to remain as the tenant. According to their website, the business now hopes to relocate and add an Escape the 1990s room as well.

Photo of a group enjoying Escape the 1980s, courtesy of TripAdvisor

Escape the 1980s is an interactive game where 2-12 players figure out clues and codes to unlock doors and get through an 80s themed adventure. The award-winning game, conceived by Steel Owl Productions, was built in the summer of 2015 by Philly artists, programmers and engineers. It’s been featured in dozens of publications including USA Today and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

If you’d like to check it out before June 30th, go here.

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What's Happening in:  All over South Philly 

Morning news round-up

Lots of South Philly stories in the news…

CBS 3 reported on the South Division’s Memorial Bike Ride held in honor of fallen police officers. More than 50 riders traversed an eleven-mile route through the 1st, 3rd and 17th police districts. Riders stopped at three different sites where Philadelphia Police lost their lives while on the job.

Eater Philadelphia offers a look inside Burrata, which opens today at 1247 South 13th St. in Passyunk Square.  According to Eater, “A few notables on the opening menu include artichokes with white wine and anchovies, mint fettuccine with a pulled rabbit ragu, bucatini with arugula pesto and shaved asparagus, and grilled branzino with parsnip puree and a pomegranate reduction.”  The restaurant was formerly the site of August.

We were saddened to hear that the coyote caught at 16th and Montrose Streets didn’t make it, as Philly Mag reported.

A piece on Philly.com acknowledged the pain many Vietnamese immigrants in South Philadelphia still feel about the fall of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, “…walk the streets of South Philadelphia, particularly around Sixth and Washington Streets, and the past is present. The South Vietnamese flag flies from homes and businesses, at the entrance to New World Plaza, a big shopping center, and at the Bo De Buddhist Temple. At Tet new year celebrations and community events, the South Vietnamese anthem is sung.”

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