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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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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Update on St. Jude’s, apartments above

St. Jude’s is staying in the building being renovated at 1805 E. Passyunk Ave., according to a source familiar with the renovations.

Paper foretells nothing at this point, a source said

Two weeks ago, we raised the question about the future of St. Jude’safter paper went up over part of window display. The source, who asked not to be named, said Monday there were no plans to end the lease for the Catholic gear emporium.

We couldn’t help it if our suspicions were raised when St. Jude’s owner, Louis DiCocco, sounded frustrated that we were asking him about the store’s future.

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

At any rate, the building’s new owner, Ed Brown, who doesn’t deal with the leasing of his properties, said Monday he bought the building from the DiCocco family. It’s his first building in the neighborhood.

It’s a wonderful area that has a lot of real good solid vibrations,” said Brown, who normally works with Center City real estate. “I think it’s the right place to be.”

He’s renovating the five existing apartments above the store – three one-bedrooms and two two-bedrooms. The apartments were really old-fashioned and cramped, so they’re knocking down walls to open them up, and, of course, replacing kitchens and bathrooms. The building is so old, in fact, workers found newspapers from the 1880s stuffed into the chimneys.

They haven’t settled on a price for the apartments, which they hope to have ready by the end of October.

Brown said there are no plans to expand the residential part of the building on the second and third floors over the storage space on the first floor (which fronts Camac Street). But he does have high hopes for adding one or more roof decks back there. Those would require extra permits, though, so it might be a while.

Imagine if they put the residential entrance back here and added a couple stories to match its neighbor 
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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista 

Vandalism on Frank Rizzo mural gets fixed

A painter was up on a scissor lift Monday covering up the black paint that was splattered last month on the Frank Rizzo mural at the Italian Market.

Tending to the man’s tarnished face

Someone threw the paint on a handful of spots on the mural of the larger than life former mayor and police commissioner – including on his face. They also spray-painted the word “Fascista” in red over his chest.

The mural, which was finished in 1995, had just been spruced up in 2010 at a cost of $20,000. Interesting note: the mural rededication was held Oct. 23, 2010, to mark Rizzo’s birthday.

That surely pissed off a few people, considering Rizzo remains such a divisive figure – even though it’s been more than 30 years since he held any public office. Any discussion of the mural (online anyway) turns heated quick among the passionate camps who equally believe he was a great or horrible man. Let’s see if the haters give up and leave the mural alone.

It’s as if the paint is streaming from the part that’s fixed already 
Mr. Rizzo, you got some schmutz on your suit
Pretty neat. Not bad for an iPhone, huh?
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