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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Ippolito’s Seafood: they’ve gone south for the winter

Need seven fishes? They’ve got that and much more at Ippolito’s wholesale cousin — Giuseppe’s Market at Samuels and Son

Every Christmas Eve, Lydia Sarson of Warnock Street maintains a family tradition. “I make fish stew from fresh red snapper while my husband makes clams. The stew is good. The clams are the best you’ll ever eat.” She buys locally whenever she can. “Ippolitos,” she says in a word.

Lydia Sarson makes her fish stew

Sarson’s story is like that of many families who live in South Philadelphia, but in July Ippolito’s Seafood – the venerable seafood purveyor at 13th and Dickinson – closed for renovations. Owners expected a late-2018 re-opening. When construction continued through the fall, customers and neighbors questioned the fate of the hundred-year-old family-owned business.

Bill Bradford, marketing and communications manager at Ippolito’s, reports the retailer is fine – it will return in 2019. In the meantime, customers who depend on Ippolito’s for their holiday table have an exceptional alternative in Giuseppe’s Market at Samuels and Son Seafood, 3400 S. Lawrence Street.

“Giuseppe’s has all the customer favorites from Ippolito’s, but on a bigger scale,” says Bradford. “And, we have a huge parking lot.”

Bill Bradford holds tube squid at Giuseppe’s Market. 

For those unfamiliar with the Philadelphia store, it began in 1919 when Giuseppe Ippolito started a pushcart seafood sales business with his father-in-law. By 1934, Ippolito was the sole proprietor. He replaced his pushcarts with horse-drawn wagons. In 1945, he opened Ippolito’s – a business that expanded through the ‘50s and ‘60s under the helm of his daughter and her son, Rose and Samuel D’Angelo. In 1989, the family opened Samuels and Son and entered the wholesale and commercial market. They now have 400 employees and handle 400 million pounds of seafood yearly. Continue Reading →

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Passyunk Square 

2018 East Passyunk Avenue Tree Lighting

On Thursday, November 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District (EPABID) and Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation (PARC) will host the annual tree lighting party at the Singing Fountain, Tasker St. and East Passyunk Avenue. The event is free and families are welcome.
The celebration will include live music, carolers, holiday treats from Avenue businesses, shopping, and a visit from Santa Claus.

The 2017 tree at the Singing Fountain. Photo courtesy East Passyunk BID.

“We’re very excited to have CBS 3 joining to us to emcee the event once again,” said Adam Leiter, executive director of EPABID, “along with our neighborhood youth from Alphabet Academy and the Andrew Jackson School’s HOME Band to ring in the season with festive performances. Meteorologist Lauren Casey will collect unwrapped toys for the Toy Fest holiday toy drive sponsored by CBS 3 and CW Philly 57.”
After the party, revelers can strut down the Avenue with the Pennsport String Band for extended shopping hours as the Deck the Ave campaign kicks off with shopping, sales, and other festivities which will run through December.
“The tree lighting began in 2011 as a way to celebrate with the neighborhood in partnership with PARC, EPABID, East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association and Passyunk Square Civic Association,” said Leiter. “Originally it brought the neighborhood together around a decorated “tree” version of the Singing Fountain, though this will be the second year we will decorate a live tree at the fountain area.”
According to Bryan Fenstermaker, executive director of PARC, this year’s tree will be a 16-foot Frasier Fir born-and-raised in North Carolina. Urban Jungle at 1526 East Passyunk will deliver the tree on November 21. PARC hires John McClenny of Yes Dear! to install the lights and decorations in the days leading up to the event.
“The transition from the tree over the Singing Fountain to the stand-alone live tree has received positive feedback,” says Fenstermaker. “It’s a welcome change for our diligent cleaning crew. The old tree left lots of needles inside the fountain and caused the potential for drainage issues in the spring. It’s now much easier to keep the fountain clean during the holiday season.”
Fenstermaker says he’s gained experience in maintaining an outdoor tree in the past years. “At home you don’t have to tether ornaments to the tree, or keep dogs from using it as a bathroom post. In the wild it’s one thing, but we don’t want it to happen at this gathering spot.”
You can donate $10 to the CBS 3 and CW 57 Philly Toy Fest toy drive by texting JOY to 41444. EPABID and PARC would also like to thank their sponsor, Univest.

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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Passyunk Square 

Doing their BID-ding

Community leaders are advocating for a business improvement district that would have the South 9th Street Italian Market as its hub.

By Joseph Myers

In 2016, a proposal to create a business improvement district (BID) for the South 9th Street Italian Market failed to acquire the mandatory two-thirds vote to move forward.  A renewed effort to establish the “South Philly Market Improvement District” has supportive community leaders hoping that sufficient advocacy will help advance a project eight years in the making. You can hear more about the plans at this evening’s Passyunk Square Civic Association general meeting.  

Passyunk Square Civic president Sarah Anton considers the market “a gem.” But, she stresses, “There’s still plenty of work to be done. The whole corridor…including areas just beyond it, deserve intensive attention.”

The proposed BID would stretch from Eighth to 10th streets and from Federal to Fitzwater streets. Parts of Washington Avenue and Christian Street would also be included. Under the plan, commercial properties in this area would pay an additional property assessment. BIDs receive taxing authority from the State and must garner approval from City Council. The proposed operating expenses for the service area total $281,636.

If approved, those revenues would help the BID tackle boarded-up and graffiti-covered spaces, fences, vacant storefronts, and old or damaged vendor stands. Area residents would benefit from the BID’s greening and beautification efforts, lighting and infrastructure work, safety  improvements, and litter removal. The BID would serve as a complement to the one established on East Passyunk Avenue in 2002.

Anton explained that the BID’s management team, outreach staff, and legal/professional services would help improve the entire service area: “Commercial landlords could attract and retain more clients, businesses could have improved prospects for success, and residents and visitors could be a more integral part of the community.”

Eugene Desyatnik, president of the Bella Vista Neighbors Association (BVNA), cautions that the proposed BID may not meet with universal approval. “When businesses hear that they can receive help, yet will  need to contribute to that via assessments, it’s not unusual for them to wonder if anything is really wrong with staying on the present course.”

The BVNA hosted a meeting on October 22, in conjunction with the South Philly Market District organizers. That meeting served as a kickstarter to secure the votes needed in City Council, specifically 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla, to advance the plan.

Photo courtesy Vern Anastasio

The BIDs’ proponents feel confident the organization, if approved, will help keep the Market competitive with other area commercial enterprises and attract new tenants and visitors. “Along with valuing the past,” Desyatnik said, “we have to make apparent what we can do to improve the present and the future” of the market.

Anton concluded, “I’m eager to keep pushing for this BID. Simply put, the community needs and deserves it.”

Read the proposal details here.

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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar Turns 80!

By Sandy Smith for the Passyunk Post

Happy birthday!

That’s how patrons who walk into Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar have been greeted for decades.  And why not? It’s somebody’s birthday somewhere every day.

On Saturday, October 6, the birthday was the bar’s own. And from 3:30 in the afternoon on into the night, regulars and friends from all over came to say “Happy Birthday” to the legendary establishment at East Passyunk Avenue and Federal Street.

Lou Anne Capozzoli, daughter of owner Lou and member of the third generation of Capozzolis involved with the bar, explained how the bar got its name.

“Ray was my grandfather,” she said. “When he owned it, and people came into the bar, instead of saying ‘Hello,’ he’d say ‘Happy birthday.’”

Lou himself is more likely to crack jokes when patrons enter, but the tradition continues: whenever the bartender rings a bell behind the bar, everyone in it shouts out “Happy birthday!”

“The bell rings maybe 10 times a day, easy,” said Lou, who grew up with the bar.

“My father bought it in 1938,” he said. “I was born in 1939, and we moved here in 1940.”

Over the seven years after Prohibition ended in 1933, the bar had had three different owners. It’s remained in the Capozzoli family ever since, and Lou does his level best to run the bar as his father did.

Owner Lou Capozzoli at the 80th birthday celebration. Photo: Sandy Smith.

Which means everyone’s welcome. “Everybody came here. Jewish people, Italian people, black people – my father was friends with everybody,” he said. “He was one of the nicest people you ever met. He treated everybody equally.

“And I teach my son in the same way: ‘If someone comes in and shakes your hand, say Happy Birthday to them.’”

Vintage photo shows Lou (back row, left), and Ray (back row, center, with glasses). Photo courtesy Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.

Lou’s son Anthony, who was behind the bar at the party, didn’t have time or room to shake hands that afternoon, for the bar was packed to the gills with well-wishers who came out to have a good time and listen to live music. Continue Reading →

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