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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Plenty remodels, opens for breakfast

After the quickest remodeling this side of the Mississippi, Plenty opened for breakfast Monday morning at

Much more seating

The changes aren’t drastic, but there are definite improvements. The counter has been enlarged and turned into a coffee bar, making room for a two-port La Marzocco espresso machine. They’re also brewing regular coffee – all La Colombe – and selling beans to go.

The eight-seat communal table has been ditched in favor of seven tables seating 18 people, plus the four original seats at the window counter (better for people-watching).The former cold case that held cheeses, prepared meals and salads is gone and so is the ice-cream freezer in the back of the room. We believe they’re still going to be selling those items, but we still trying to get in contact today with Anthony Mascieri for more details (he was out when we stopped in). They also plan a juice bar along the back wall.

The new menu – $5.50 to $7 – consists of five breakfast sandwiches, mostly upscale takes on meat, egg and cheese. The fried egg, smoked brisket and cheddar on an artisan roll sounds like a delicious artery clogger, but there’s also a more sensible scrambled eggs, roasted red peppers and pesto on 7-grain toast. Plus there are muffins and other pastries, a greek yogurt parfait and they’ll be doing specials daily.

There’s a sign up saying they have a new website, but it looks like the old one and hasn’t been updated to include the new hours, which start at 7 a.m.

Check back later today for some updates.

Warmer colors than the old, spartan Plenty
The new coffee bar, face with old produce crates
The shiny new equipment
Imagine a juice bar here


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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Fire damages Colombo’s, with pics

Jeez, when we said the other day that the Avenue was on fire, we didn’t mean this. Colombo’s restaurant at 1934 E. Passyunk Ave. was seriously damaged by a blaze that began in the restaurant a little after 11 a.m. Saturday, according to a tenant who lived upstairs.

Though the name of the place may not ring any bells, it’s the first thing drivers see on the left side of the Avenue when they turn right off Broad.

Out of commission. Note the AC dangling from the window.

On Saturday afternoon, a crew of workers was working to seal the restaurant, which had no remaining windows in tact. Caution tape cordoned off the sidewalk and broken glass littered the ground.

A crew was sealing the building Saturday
No injuries were reported

A tenant, Brady, let us upstairs into his apartment to check out the damage. Firefighters had punched ventilation holes through walls and the roof in his bedroom and the air was thick with the acrid smell of smoke. Brady said he’s not sure where he’s going to stay, though the Red Cross has offered help. No word yet on a cause of the fire.

Walking up the stairs from the street to the apartments
That’s the hole in the roof of Brady’s bedroom
Smoke damage in the kitchen
Brady’s destroyed entryway

The building had a crude for-sale or rent sign posted for at least four years, but it came down sometime this year. According to the rumor mill on Philly Speaks, the asking price was considered to be fairly high, but we couldn’t find records of a listing or asking price anywhere. The restaurant secured a liquor license in 2009, possibly to make the sale more attractive because the place seemed to rarely be open, even after getting a litquor license. Frankly, the place, which has so much potential with its built-in outside seating, has been a drag on that end of Passyunk for years.

We couldn’t get a hold of building owner Mario (some city records say Maurice) Pisano to find out what his plans are, but we’re going to keep trying. Check back for updates.

UPDATE: 6 ABC has some video:
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SoPhilly Spotlight: Are they crazy edition

This gem for sale at 1322 Tasker Street, Philadelphia PA 19148 represents all that is glorious about tacky, old South Philly – gaudy light fixtures, wood paneling, ’60s bachelor pad basement. But the fact that these loons think they can get $569,900 for this place, which would need to be totally gutted, means they must be crazy. Anyone willing to cough up more than half a million dollars for a South Philly house would gag at the decor.

The statue outside hints at the questionable choices inside

Of course, the 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath house does have pluses: 1,649 square feet, central air, possibilty to convert yard to parking, great location next to leafy Juniper Street, half a block from the subway.

Whoa! Like a kick in the gut
Just imagine it without all that crap in there
The window bench is a nice touch
More of the requisite mirrors
Passable kitchen
The Easter bunny got sick in here
Cramped and wooden
It’s like a VFW in the basement, but I kind of like it
So what do you think? Is the space enough to make up for the months of renovation this would take? Let us know in the comments what you think this place would fetch.
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Hollywood-ish comes to the Avenue

Earlier today we told you about the windows being covered at the PARC-owned former Sweet Jane Vintage space at 1820 E. Passyunk Ave. Just got a call back from Sam Sherman, executive director at PARC, and he says it’s being rented by a video-editing production company called Pattern and Motion.

Owned by a husband and wife team who lives in the neighborhood, Eric Botel-Barnard and Diana Barnard, the firm produces documentaries, commercials and other film projects. They’re relocating their office from Walnut Street in Center City in part because they wanted to be able to walk to work, Sherman said.Though an office space is a different kind of tenant than PARC has traditionally courted, Sherman stressed the importance of maintaining a diversity of businesses on the Avenue. That includes a mix of professional offices that can inject some life to the street during business hours. PAM will help to that end, he said, because they often work long hours, with clients coming and going at all times, and because they’ll maintain an open-concept office (no cubicles to block the view from the street). The window display will be dolled up with flat-screen TVs showing their work to light up the street at night.

Imagine some fancy TVs here
“They’re part of the creative class, so it seemed like a good fit,” Sherman said.
About Sweet Jane, Sherman said they ended up doing better business online than in the store, so it didn’t make sense for the owners to maintain a retail presence. That also means the store’s closure wasn’t necessarily a bad sign for retail on the street because PARC’s other retail tenants are thriving.
In fact, Sherman said it’s going to be an interesting Fall. Check back here next week for what’s coming from PARC in the next few months. There’s plenty to tell, we’re just waiting on some details.
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

What’s going into old Sweet Jane Vintage?

Man, the Avenue is on fire! Paper went up over the windows this week at 1820 East Passyunk, where Sweet Jane was before closing in April.

That was quick. New tenant only two months after Sweet Jane shuttered.
They have that paper taped up pretty tight, so you can’t get a look in edgewise. On top of the new Kings Music store opening up tomorrow plus remodeling and new breakfast service starting Monday, it’s quite a week in East Passyunk.

We’ve left a message with the folks at PARC, which owns the Sweet Jane building, but they haven’t gotten back to us right away. So, people, anyone have any information about what’s coming?

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Peek inside new Kings Music

Owner Joe King is scrambling to get ready for his grand opening party Saturday, but from the looks of it, he’s in pretty good shape. He took a couple minutes to show us around and as you can see, almost all the instruments are stocked. Guitars, drums, amps, accessories and other equipment line the walls.

No “Stairway to Heaven”

He’s still waiting on a huge order of saxophones to fill another shelf.

Are you ready to rock?

He kept the wooden, grooved walls that previously held up the shelves when the former Shoe Gallery was located in the storefront. The displays looked awkward in the shoe store but they’re actually better suited to displaying instruments. He also slapped a coat of purplish paint on some of the walls.

Are you properly equipped for the rock making?

This is King’s first effort at retail (he worked in sales at Verizon/AT&T/Bell Atlantic), but he plays drums, bass, guitar, banjo and a little keyboard. He has a stable of nine teachers that will be giving the lessons, though.

One of the lesson rooms
King now lives in South Philly near Marconi Plaza but grew up in South Jersey in a Mummer family – he, his father, brother and cousin are all in the Mummer Hall of Fame. He’s marched in the parade for 49 years, with the Quaker City String Band for the last 15. In non-Mummer music, he said he’s also been in a band called Sensation for years, playing everywhere from the Bahamas to Boston, and from the casinos to the old Crystal Tea Room.
Joe King messing with soundproofing in another lesson room.

The onsite recording isn’t quite ready yet, but his portable equipment can be quickly set up. He just said he’s working on getting that website going, too.

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