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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Valet parking coming to the Avenue

Coming from Michael Klein at the Insider, two valet parking stands will be set up on EPA, one by the fountain, and the other in front of El Zarape.

The Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp. is dealing with the explosion of restaurants on East Passyunk.
Right after Labor Day, two valet slips will be set up. One will be on the 1600 block of East Passyunk (more or less from El Zarape to Mr. Martino’s); the second will be on the western side (the Passyunk Avenue side) of the Singing Fountain at 11th and Tasker.
Valet service will be offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 till midnight.
Executive director Sam Sherman says the service will be offered at a deep discount for those who dine at participating restaurants, which will fund the valet company. PARC will pay the permit fees.

That’s on top of the valet service offered in front of Tre Scalini. We’re on fire!

Sub a valet stand for that white van
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

NoLibs flair at 12th and Latona

The intersection at 12th and Latona streets has begun to look decidedly un-South Philadelphian, in a good way. That old warehouse on 12th with the weird flag mural stripped across its wall has given way to a project under construction called Latona Court. It’s a development of 10 towering, modern townhouses with roof decks, balconies and parking squeezed onto little Latona Street. Pretty pricey.

Towering over little Latona rowhouses 
Seven more to go

Across the street, the same developer just finished another modernistic apartment building with a weird, deep-set retail or office space on the first floor. There are also three covered parking spots.

Fancy facade across Latona with the weird setback. 

Plus, down the street, the recently closed Annunciation BVM school has gone up for sale, listed with Colliers International. That could make for one hell of an apartment building just across the street from the dog park and playground in namesake Passyunk Square. And some critical mass for the neighborhood to possibly fill that weird retail space above.

As to the fancy facades of the new buildings, we’re all for red-brick rehabs, but it doesn’t hurt to spice up the hood’s architecture every once in a while. Northern Liberties managed to mix it in just fine. Let’s get more of that into the mix, which is entirely possible as the neighborhood keeps attracting more buzz.

Old warehouse, photo via Naked Philly

Yesterday, Philadelphia magazine announced that George Sabatino of Stateside was named Best Chef in their annual Best of Philly issue.

Pretty cool, but now we’ll never get a table.

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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

60 second summary (storify)

Bourdain at Stateside via @hasminoo

There’s been so much good news for the Avenue the last couple days — Best of Philly for George Sabatino at Stateside, El Zarape, Cochon, visit by Anthony Bourdain, valet parking coming — that the best way to quickly sum it up is with Storify. Plus the weekend hasn’t even begun. [<a href=”http://storify.com/PassyunkPost/huge-couple-days-for-east-passyunk” target=”_blank”>View the story “Huge couple days for East Passyunk” on Storify</a>]

Scroll down to see the 60 second summary.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Sign of the times for St. Jude’s?

The building at 1805 E. Passyunk Ave., which houses St. Jude’s Shop next door to Stogie Joe’s, was sold in May for $875,000, slightly down from the original list price of $899,000. Then paper went up over part of the window display last week, making us wonder if the end was near for the communion dress and nativity scene emporium.

What does the paper foretell? Maybe nothing

The DiCocco family that owns the store, plus locations in Havertown and Cherry Hill, was less than helpful. Louis DiCocco was fairly short with us when we reached him at the Havertown location.

“We’re still there and selling, and that’s all you need to know,” he said before rushing off the phone.

He declined to say how long the lease was. That doesn’t necessarily mean the store is closing, but he sure wasn’t happy that we were asking. Back in the day, the family also had locations on Castor Avenue and at 21 S. 13th St, steps away from another restaurant renaissance in Midtown Village.

The new landlord didn’t immediately return a call, but we do know that the paper at this point is only covering up renovations to the stairs that go to the apartments above the store. The window display to the right of the door is still in tact.

That slide would only cause butt splinters
Around back, you can see work crews gutting the second and third floors. Judging by the size of the building, they could fit up to six apartments in there if they wanted, though zoning may not allow that. Add the 12 apartments proposed for the King of Jeans building, and you’ve got some serious new residential life coming to the Avenue.
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Ratty awning says it all

The neon has gone dark

Tom’s Prime meats at 1729 E Passyunk Ave. has closed. A quick call to the number shows it’s disconnected.

Of course, that awning has looked like it had been devoured by moths for the last couple years. Maybe the lack of care for its appearance had something to do with the closure. Or maybe it was this, from Philly Speaks:

The only experience I’ve ever had with Tom’s Prime Meats is when I accompanied a friend there some time ago who made a purchase there. While I didn’t buy anything (and, therefore, can’t report on the quality of the product), I can tell you that the guy behind the counter left a very distinct impression on me: an extremely negative one. First of all, even though the shop was completely devoid of other customers, he seemed to be annoyed that he had to wait on my friend — no smile, no hello. I was new to the neighborhood at that time and tried to strike up a conversation with him about it, and all he did was bad-mouth South Philly. After we left, I asked my friend what the guy’s problem was, and she told me he’s always miserable, hates the city (lives in Jersey), but she shops there because it’s convenient.

(from poster Oladybug, who’s usually very sympathetic)

The biz appeared to never have attracted the newer residents of the neighborhood, and talking shit about South Philly in front of newcomers won’t help. It’s also never a good sign when a business in one of the city’s most gentrified neighborhoods has zero reviews on Yelp. At this point, if you don’t get the yelpers, you don’t get new customers.

We couldn’t track down a number for the landlord, who’s owned the building since 1956. He’s up to date on his property taxes, according to city records.

Is decor is from 1959? Might not be bad in the hands of the right owners.

Although the butcher’s shop’s demise might be bad news to some — Tom, for instance — it opens up an opportunity for another, less surly butcher to set up shop. With actual prime meats, a smile, and dare we ask, a new awning. Hey, Plenty! You wanna open a butcher shop?

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Will BYOB’s coming along (updated with pics)

Update:

Here are some more pics:

If it looks good from the outside, it’ll probably be pretty good inside
Forgive the reflection, please
Like a stalker, peeking through the window
Another view. They can pull this together by Aug. 24, right?
Original Post:
Meal Ticket checked in with Christopher Kearse, the chef/owner opening Will BYOB at 1911 E.P.A. near the end of August.

MT says he’s in the process of hiring his staff, plucking from his former employers Pumpkin and Lacroix (Kearse has a mile-long resume of short stints at stellar restaurants, including Napa’s French Laundry and at Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea in Chicago).

From the outside renovations appear to be progressing smoothly. New, black fling-out windows are installed and lighting and the paint job look complete. A quick peek inside showed plenty of work to be done though, so hopefully late August isn’t too optimistic.

Kearse seems to think not, though. His Open Table site is up, which is a good sign even if their map is wrong.


Oops, that’s West Passyunk
Check out this incredible story about Kearse from May in City Paper.

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