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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

Garage shoots for Nov.1 opening date – and they might actually make it

Jason Evenchik, owner of the upcoming Garage across from Geno’s, got back to us after we raised the question of all that dirt that was piled in front of the propertya couple weeks ago. He told us that the building’s owner had to do some soil samples before they could continue, but the big news is that Garage is coming a lot sooner than you think.

Evenchik said they’re hoping to start building in a couple weeks and are shooting for a Nov. 1 opening date. That’s actually more doable than it sounds because they plan to preserve the concrete floors and walls and really only need to build the bar and bathrooms. Permits are ready to go.

The place will be huge. They’re keeping those steel beams exposed.

The set-up will be slightly different from what we first reported (that there will be food trucks and a set menu). Actually, a customized food cart will be a permanent fixture inside, running on natural gas.

“As far as the food truck operators,” Evenchik said in a phone interview, “we’re gonna rotate them through. We’ll book ’em like bands. Monday might be Korean tacos, Tuesday might be Tyson Bees, Wednesday maybe Trinidadian food [Mini Trini].”

The truck operators will prep off site and sling their grub from the cart, so there won’t be a line of trucks out front. “They’ll be like guest chefs,” Evenchik said. Partner Josh McCullough is working with the Philly Mobile Food Association and the Food Trust, which runs the Night Markets, to set the schedule.

Inside, think industrial warehouse for the look, about 50 seats, 150 beers in cans only, a handful of affordable wines and a full bar, plus TVs playing Phils and Eagles. So is it a sports bar?

“More like a man den, couple pool tables, foosball, skeeball. Games to play and things to do as well. Kind of like what we do at Bar on a larger scale with more room.” At just under 3,000 square feet, it’s much more than Bar, one of Evenchik and his wife Delphine’s three places near 13th and Sansom. The others are wine bar Vintage (beware automatic, jazzy music on the website) and whiskey/music bar Time. Another, Growler in the old Vesuvio space in Bella Vista, is planned for next month.

A clear garage door on the front will slide open in nice weather, giving the place an inside-outside feel. “People watching down in that area is pretty phenomenal,” said Evenchik, who lives nearby on 10th Street. “We all live in South Philly.” The other partners are Terrance Leach and Sal D’Amato.

Imagine it with a clear garage door, and without all that pink shit 

They’ll open seven days a week, from about 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., opening earlier on game days, with food the whole time. Outside cheesesteaks will also be allowed in, though Evenchik said the “target market is not the cheesesteak tourist crowd. Its people living in South Philly.”

Another plus? He’s keeping your wallet in mind. “We want it to be somewhere you can go if you want Oskar Blues [Dale’s Pale Ale, etc.] brew or Colorado crafts or if you want PBR and Narragansett. It’ll definitely be affordable. Somewhere you can hang out – a lot.”
OK, you twisted my arm.
The pile that piqued our curiosity
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

PARC facade program starts in Sept. with 5 businesses

Starting in September, you’re gonna see a whole lotta scaffolding going up on the Avenue. PARC executive director Sam Sherman said that his nonprofit will be contributing $100,000 toward a new facade improvement program of avenue businesses. The first will be Mamma Maria, followed by Sermania Jewlers, B2, Avenue Cheese and Today’s Styles.

Yikes! Hideous

Here’s how the program works: Building owners are applying in tandem to an existing city-sponsored facade improvement program that pays up to $8,000 for mid-block buildings and $12,000 for corner properties. But a complete façade renovation is often cost prohibitive because it could run $25,000 or more for larger buildings. So, the building owners chip in a percentage of the total renovation budget, add their contribution to the city funding, and PARC covers the remainder.

So thanks to those two extra funding streams, building owners who wouldn’t be able to pay for a complete reno get better looking storefronts and neighbors don’t have to look at crappy, crumbling stucco. Everybody wins, especially since the renovations will take care of some of the ugliest properties. We’re looking at you, Avenue Cheese Shop.

Architects are meeting now with the building owners. PARC gets input through the end to ensure that the final product is up to the standards of the recent renovations of their own buildings. Remember what the South Philly Comics building used to look like, with that weird purple gate?

The hope is to get the first five finished by the end of the year, then renovate five more per year. That’s right, Sherman’s thinking long-term. Way to go, sir.

Check out all these before shots, imagine them in black and white in an infomercial:
Of all of them, this is the least in need
I wonder what the name is
Rusted sign
This whole behemoth is getting the PARC treatment, thank god
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

SoPhilly Spotlight: You gotta start somewhere edition

Sure, it ain’t pretty and it’s tiny. But at $90,000 we’re thinking of moving in (OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

This week’s SoPhilly spotlight is a 700-square-foot, 2-bedroom row at 1441 S. Franklin, a half-block between 7th and 8th, Reed and Dickinson. The block doesn’t even merit appearing on Google Street View.

Yeesh. Not promising

But hey, according to the listing, it’s:

A great opportunity to own a home and customize it to your liking.


This home has a brand new rubber roof 2012 installed.

Well, that’s nice.

Can be a three bedroom as there is an extra room downstairs.

That’s called a basement.

With a little TLC can be a wonderful home. Sold as is.

Yeah, no shit

But when you think about it, it’s really not far from everything: a couple blocks to the upcoming Fountain Porter and Watkins Drinkery. Buses run down 8th and up 7th. You wouldn’t have to deal with nosy neighbors because we’re not even sure anyone lives on the block. Your monthly payment including taxes and insurance would be like $550. What do you think? Could you do it?

Is that a side yard?
That’s not terrible, but you notice these pics were taken in 2010?
What a lovely view.
Is that the dining room?
Are the clovers part of the deal?
Notice, no pictures of the bathrooms. Hmm
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What's Happening in:  Passyunk Square 

What’s that light on upstairs at Devil’s Den?

Tooling past Devil’s Den after dark recently, we noticed a light on inside the restaurant’s cavernous, unfinished second floor. The single bulb seemed like a beacon, illuminating the raw demoed space and promising an impending expansion. But alas, expansion for the restaurant, at 11th and Ellsworth, is still delayed.

A ray of hope – dashed

We checked in at the Devil’s Den, which has made no secret of wanting to finish its second floor, and the project is still a ways away, maybe next year at best, according to someone in the restaurant who has knowledge of the project but didn’t want to be named.

The source said the light was probably left on when someone went upstairs to access some of the stuff stored up there.

Owner Erin Wallace has continued to meet with contractors to get plans drawn up, but she hasn’t found the right fit, the source said. The problem is that since it’s such a huge space, it’s also hugely expensive. So if you want to see the Den move on up, stop by a lot, and order an extra beer next time.

Since there’s some time, maybe we can offer a few suggestions. What would you like to see in the Den’s theoretical upstairs? Another bar? Games, pool table, mechanical bull? Maybe a petting zoo, or boxing ring/Mexican wrestling amphitheater?

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Spy on your neighbors with L&I’s new website

The city of Philadelphia has managed to enter the 21st Century, and it all comes with a nice dose of voyeurism. The Department of Licenses and Inspections unveiled its new website this week, and there’s a mapping feature that is a treasure trove of information.

The website not only streamlines the process for applying for permits, but you can also see the status for every single permit or violation in the city. There’s info about business permits, rental and food licenses, zoning requests and appeals, history of  L&I violations — even gun permits.

So many potential stories

The photo at right is just one of seven maps available and shows the immense amount of construction permits — from plumbing to electrical to zoning requests — just in the area around the fountain.

The amount of data is just maddening. Could be quite the time waster for a nosy neighbor.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Another Avenue business closes; owner gets some nibbles

Pour out a little of that 40 for Bronze Bar, the airbrush tanning studio at 1713 S. 12th St. next to the Passyunk dollar store.

Kaput. It never even had it’s own sign
The gate hasn’t risen for weeks, and there’s a curling piece of paper taped to the window telling prospective renters to call Paul. Building owner Paul Liou said the BB told him they weren’t busy enough, but that the owner had other businesses.
The last number is 2. No pranks!

He’s already gotten some interest from three people for a possible cafe, clothing store or architecture office. Liou said the new rent would tentatively be about $1,000 a month (depending on the business) for about 500 square feet. He wouldn’t say how much Bronze Bar paid but he said he gave the lady a great deal, sort of a friendship agreement. Not surprising that he’d hike the rent.

That building, incidentally, is Liou’s only one. His jobby job is as a Chinese-English interpreter, which he does in courtrooms in Philly, Atlantic City, Vineland and Delaware.


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