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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Peek inside new Kings Music

Owner Joe King is scrambling to get ready for his grand opening party Saturday, but from the looks of it, he’s in pretty good shape. He took a couple minutes to show us around and as you can see, almost all the instruments are stocked. Guitars, drums, amps, accessories and other equipment line the walls.

No “Stairway to Heaven”

He’s still waiting on a huge order of saxophones to fill another shelf.

Are you ready to rock?

He kept the wooden, grooved walls that previously held up the shelves when the former Shoe Gallery was located in the storefront. The displays looked awkward in the shoe store but they’re actually better suited to displaying instruments. He also slapped a coat of purplish paint on some of the walls.

Are you properly equipped for the rock making?

This is King’s first effort at retail (he worked in sales at Verizon/AT&T/Bell Atlantic), but he plays drums, bass, guitar, banjo and a little keyboard. He has a stable of nine teachers that will be giving the lessons, though.

One of the lesson rooms
King now lives in South Philly near Marconi Plaza but grew up in South Jersey in a Mummer family – he, his father, brother and cousin are all in the Mummer Hall of Fame. He’s marched in the parade for 49 years, with the Quaker City String Band for the last 15. In non-Mummer music, he said he’s also been in a band called Sensation for years, playing everywhere from the Bahamas to Boston, and from the casinos to the old Crystal Tea Room.
Joe King messing with soundproofing in another lesson room.

The onsite recording isn’t quite ready yet, but his portable equipment can be quickly set up. He just said he’s working on getting that website going, too.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Kings Music opens Saturday with block party, free guitar

Kings Music opens on the Avenue Saturday Aug. 4 at 1828 E Passyunk Ave as a full-service music store, meaning you can buy a guitar, learn how to play it and record your album all in the same place.

Pre-opening

To mark the opening store owner Joe King is throwing a block party from 11:30 a.m. to about 6 p.m. with live bands and refreshments. The first 50 customers who buy something will be entered into a drawing to win a free Epiphone acoustic guitar.

The store will sell and make repairs to a wide array of instruments and will offer lessons for guitar, drums, horns, flutes, bass, saxophone, violin and piano, plus vocal training. Website is a bit of a work in progress, and Facebook page just got started (we were the third Like).

Win this guitar at the opening

King said he has lots of rooms for lessons and recording in the back, in what was the storeroom of the storefront’s previous tenant, Shoe Gallery (the one with the hideous orange sign). He’ll help you record in a studio onsite or he’ll come to you with portable recording equipment to get the job done wherever you want. He also offers a full recording package, which includes mixing, artwork design and CD production.

And here’s a bit of good news: the store will be open on even on Sundays and will keep fairly long hours, staying open till 9 p.m. weekdays. That’s practically nocturnal compared to some of the other businesses on the avenue, so maybe it can help drive up foot traffic later in the day.

UPDATE: King says he’ll also be selling instruments on consignment in case your little one loved the trumpet then gave it up five days later. He also wants to get into instrument rental to help parents avoid that very problem. Click here for some pictures of the inside.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Toyotomi falls flat, but it’s cheap

On the surface, the new Toyotomi Japanese restaurant that opened this month across from Neumann-Goretti High at 1740 S. 11th St. shows promise. It certainly has better decor than the handful of forgettable takeout places that have filled the tiny corner storefront over the past few years. Dark tones, a handful of plush chairs and red accents dress up the 18-seat BYOB, even if the zebra picture and poster of the Frank Gehry Disney Concert Hall tacky up the joint. The chandelier from Lowe’s, which I briefly considered for my own dining room, sums it up: nothing special, but passable, just like the food.

That’s more than half the dining room
And the rest

We only got a few basics for takeout, so this isn’t a condemnation of the whole menu, especially since we didn’t get any of the fish (don’t judge us, just felt like going to a new place). But the five items we did get mostly failed to impress. Agedashi Tofu, described on the menu as “Fried tofu, scallion, grated daikon in tempura sauce,” sounded better than it was – essentially cubes of soggy fried tofu over a bed of romaine lettuce with a soup container’s worth of weak broth to dip it in. The spears in the Asparagus Denkatsu (“sesame seed glazed with sweet black sauce”) were crisp but drenched in a thick, sickly sweet plum sauce.

We’d get the Japanese Spring Rolls again, crispy on the outside, fresh snap of bamboo shoots and chicken in the middle. California rolls were just fine (like we said, don’t judge), and the Beef Negimaki were tasty, but the slices of seared flank steak wrapped around scallions also was drenched in too much sauce.

Now open, across from Neumann-Goretti

Because of a bit of a language barrier, getting solid info on the place was tough, but the woman manning the counter said that the chef/owner, Sugi Wijaya, runs the place with his family. He was involved with Big Eyes Sushi on 7th and Bainbridge, the spot that took over after the ambitious Roku quickly closed. Before Big Eyes, the family had been living in North Carolina, running a sushi counter at an Asheville grocery store.

Adorable radish butterfly

The best part? We were full on $25 for two people, about half what the same meal would have cost at Izumi for about half the quality. We’ll give it another shot — the $8.99 lunch specials look particularly appealing — but probably only for a quick, cheap fix. And next time, we’ll dive into the fish.

Has anyone else been there? Let us know what you thought in the comments.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Car show pics and quips, plus one grouch

So, the biggest event of the year in the neighborhood comes around, and of course, we couldn’t make it thanks to a persnickety series of unfortunate events.

On the avenue, via Matt DiGennaro on Instagram

That means we’ll have to let everyone else tell you about it. Thankfully, there are some pretty good photographers out there and a few of them can turn a phrase, so here goes – your 60 second summary of the East Passyunk Avenue Car Show and Craft Festival.

[<a href=”http://storify.com/PassyunkPost/car-show-pics-and-quips-plus-one-grouch” target=”_blank”>View the story “Car show pics and quips, plus one grouch” on Storify</a>]

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

SoPhilly Spotlight

This bilevel, two-bedroom apartment right on E. Passyunk and Moore seems pretty nice — good location right next to Stogie Joe’s — but it’s kind of small for $1,200 a month not including utilities.

Bilevel 2BR avail on Passyunk @ Moore (next door to Stogie Joe’s).
Wood floors throughout.
Ceramic tiled floor, Kitchen
Dishwasher
Front loading Washer-dryer from Maytag
Roof access. Views of Center City
Tenants pay all utils.
Avail: ASAP/August 1st.

What do you think? Is that what $1,200 gets these days in the hood?

Pretty good, pretty good, but is that a bedroom or living room? 
Little old, but it’ll do
Skyline view, and the beautiful Today’s Styles
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Hot rod heaven, circus performers

The Car Show and Street Festival returns to EPA for the seventh year on Sunday, July 29 from noon to 5, and this time the party looks bigger than ever. The EPA Business Improvement District, which puts on the show, expects more than 140 classic and tricked-out cars, spread out over the blocks between Broad and Dickinson.

Car show last year, thanks to EPBID

We’ve been to the show before, and the cars are pretty cool, but the best part is the food, the booze and the scene. That all promises to be even better this year too. There will be live music on every block with stages in front of Le Virtu, El Zarape, Mamma Maria, Stogies Joes and Birra and a DJ most of the day at the fountain (for the schedule and more info…). An expanded roster of food trucks will line the street and the restaurants will open up to the sidewalk serving food and drinks. The Bang! Boom! CRAFT! show, sponsored by our very own Nice Things Handmade at 1731 EPA, will bring dozens of vendors to the fountain.
The biggest improvement over last year? Circus performers from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.

Then if you’re just getting going when they’re closing up shop at 5, head to Stogies Joe’s and the party outside keeps rolling till 9.

It’s a big change from the car show’s paltry beginning, when lonely clusters of people would shuffle the wide, empty gulf between vendor tables. People would take to the old Phillyblog to complain that the BID shouldn’t even stage events like these because hardly anyone showed up. Actually, it was only two years ago that the event was labeled the “DooWop Car Show and Street Festival,” no doubt catering more to some of our grayer neighbors. Kudos to Renee at the BID for sticking through it all.

Also, the car show is nominated for the best local event by PHL17’s hot list contest, which could use your support, by the way…click

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