Salt & Pepper’s out, but it’s actually great news

Michael Klein at the Insider reports that chef Christoper Lee will join Salt & Pepper owner Joe Massara to collaborate on a new concept at 1623 E. Passyunk Ave. S&P hasn’t yet closed, but it will.

From Litter Box on Philly Speaks, right before they opened

From Klein’s post:

Right now, Lee told me, they’re in design phase and it’s unclear when the restaurant will close and then reopen. He said the concept is still being fleshed out but would be a neighborhood place with “great food, tasty drinks, and friendly service.

Lee was last in Philly at Stephen Starr’s incarnation of Striped Bass, where he got a four-bell review from Craig Laban in 2005, the same year the James Beard Foundation named Lee the Rising Star Chef of the Year. He decamped for New York in ’06 and earned two Michelin stars.

Joe Massara, via

All this effusive foodie-geek talk is a way of saying this is great news for East Passyunk. Combined with Chris Scarduzio’s move into the corner storefront where Artisan Boulanger is, plus the news that Chicago chef Joncarl Lachman was scouting for an EPA restaurant, this means we’re getting some real heavy hitters of the food world. That third valet stand can’t come soon enough.

To those who are mourning the loss of a neighborhood business: Sorry, but it was time for a change at S&P anyway. When it moved to Passyunk from Queen Village nearly two years ago, it was one of our favorite neighborhood spots – decent food, if not flashy, with moderate prices and healthy wine pours. Then they got dogged by lukewarm reviews, including a 1-bell kick in the gut from Craig Laban. Their response was to make everything more expensive – the menu got more creative but the food never got much better.

OK, enough with the griping. This is a good day. Here’s to success with the new venture, Joe.