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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Why Colombo’s fire started – plus pics of ruined restaurant

A source who was poking around Colombo’s Friday said that after a preliminary check, investigators believe that the fire that torched the restaurant last week was started because of a hard-wired electrical problem.

Looks more ominous than it is

There were no signs of a grease fire, said the source, who is familiar with the investigation but didn’t want his name used. The fire department confirmed they suspect that an electrical issue in the restaurant caused the fire, though a final determination hasn’t been made. There were no signs of an accelerant or anything else suspicious (despite the ethnically insensitive comments on our last post).

Note the smoke damage

Inside on Friday, the smell of smoke lingered and an eerie light filtered through the open door when the investigators let us creep inside to take pictures. Piles of broken glass and destroyed furniture littered the floor. An investigator in the kitchen was training his flashlight on an electrical panel, but we weren’t allowed in to poke around.

One striking thing was how big the place is – enough space for at least 80 seats. Good news is that the damage doesn’t appear structural, so the building wouldn’t need to be torn down. That means it will possibly clear the way for someone else to swoop in and take advantage of all that potential.

So, what do you think should go in there, folks? What don’t we have that we need? And who should be the one to do it?

One half the dining room, kitchen’s through the door with the diamond window
The other half of the dining room
Another view
Holes firefighters busted through the walls for ventilaion
From the back of the second half
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

SoPhilly spotlight: Wouldn’t that be nice edition

For this week’s SoPhilly Spotlight, we steer clear of ugly (which delighted/revolted people on Facebook last week) and turn back to what makes us jealous.

For sale $419,900, this totally renovated home at 1314 S. 10th St. has incredible hardwood floors with a dark-wood inlay, 3 huge bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and more than 1,700 square feet. It has also has a finished basement, wine cellar, new everything, a roof deck with Center City views – and a questionable ceiling fan that is easily overlooked.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Living room. That’s the questionable ceiling fan, and what’s the fascination with mirrors? 

Turned staircase shows how big this is for a SoPhilly row (that’s a door to the side yard) 
Dining room, steps down to living room
Curtains gotta go, obviously
One of the massive bedrooms
Nothing special, but it’ll do. There was no pic that was obviously the master bath
Finished basement
I could see my house from here
As always, nondescript outside
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

First pics of inside Will BYOB

It’s looking good inside Will BYOB at 1911 EPA, where we were invited inside by the work crew to snap a couple photos to give you all a sneak peek. Christopher Kearse’s first restaurant appears to be right on schedule for its expected Aug. 24 opening.

Actually, it looks like they’re ahead of schedule. The light fixtures are in, the kitchen equipment looks to be installed and the dark wood floors are even finished. Throw a couple pictures on the wall and move a few chairs into the tiny space and they could open this weekend, if they wanted to. Instead, they started taking reservations today.

The place is tiny, so call soon.

Since we last checked in with the progress a few weeks ago, news emerged that Kearse, who made a name for himself at Pumpkin, will be offering a Sunday prix fixe menu – four courses for $40. Not bad for modern, French-inspired cuisine. Dinner will be served Tuesday through Sunday, plus Sunday brunch.

Imagine those windows flung open on Passyunk.
Just finishing touch-ups
Close-up of fixtures
Pretty close
Yeah, that’s nicer than my oven
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

What’s that pile of dirt at soon-to-be Garage?

For those hoping for a quick opening at the forthcoming Garage across from Geno’s on Passyunk, you’re stomachs are going to be grumbling for a while.

As you can see, not very restauranty

Jackhammers were rumbling this week and yesterday a crew was digging out the soil inside the cavernous space. Though we only were able to get a quick glimpse of the inside, it appears there’s plenty of work left to do. Almost all of it, actually.

Owners Jason and Delphine Evenchik came up with a fantastic idea of tapping into the food truck craze with Garage. They plan on working with Honest Tom’s taco truck and a rotating roster of other food trucks to feed the patrons inside. They’ll also have a food cart with their own menu of “modern American street food from around the country,” Jason told GrubStreet. Add big TVs, foosball, a bar and seating for 30, and you got yourself some serious potential.

From last week. Not too pretty yet.

The pair also own similarly one-word restaurants Vintage, Time and Bar around 13th and Sansom. They’re also taking over the old Vesuvio in Bella Vista and calling it – naturally – Growlers.

We’ll update you when we hear back from them. Meanwhile, since you won’t actually see them in the flesh for a while down this way, here’s an interview of them talking about their first three restaurants.


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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Center City hot dog shop to open here in September

Underdogs, the subterranean “haute dog” shop at 132 S. 17th St., is shooting for a September opening for their second location, next door to Geno’s on 9th Street.

Good news. Photo via Passyunk Square Civic’s FB page

It’s in the dearly departed former bahn mi shop O sandwiches, which was our first exposure to the tasty Vietnamese hoagies and remains our favorite, hands down.

Here’s a snippet of the Insider’s write-up when Underdogs’ Center City place opened in February, which includes some pics of their inventive, all beef-dogs:

Restaurant veteran Robert Amar is behind the new Underdogs, a subterranean hot dog shop, which opened today (2/28) in the lower-level storefront at 132 S. 17th St. It previously was Argan Moroccan Cuisine.
Underdogs’ base dog is a boiled Dietz & Watson all-beef “5-to-1” – the Tacony meat packer’s signature five-to-a-pound frank – which he’s selling for $3.25 on a sturdy roll from South Philly baker Cacia’s. From there go the toppings – the result, Amar says, of two years of research and development.

Between this and the new Garage on the other side of EPA, drunk late-nighters will finally have an alternative in the area to mediocre cheesesteaks. Bring on the defensive comments, you misguided Geno’s lovers!

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Meat market action – at Tom’s and elsewhere?

The bad news for the folks at Tom’s Prime Meats could be good news for the rest of East Passyunk.

Tom’s Prime’s surly run came to an end recently at 1729 E Passyunk Ave., which we told you about two weeks ago. But Sam Sherman, executive director of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporationsaid he has “a couple of guys fighting over that space right now.” He didn’t say what kind of businesses these people want to open.

Imagine if a real butcher set up shop here
Sherman said one problem is that the family that’s owned the building since 1956 hasn’t decided to sell it, though he’s made some inquiries. “It would be great to put someone in there that actually sold meat, a real butcher,” Sherman said in a recent phone interview. “I went by there one day to get some veal chops and he rather nastily told me to go to Espositos.”
Another shop that actually sells meat may be a possibility soon nearby. “I have four guys chasing the avenue to open a charcuterie and restaurant,” Sherman said.

Demand for the Avenue has never been hotter. The vacancy rate is probably lowest in the city, Sherman said, and PARC has a waiting list for its properties, especially now that video-production firm Pattern And Motion is moving in to the old Sweet Jane spot.


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