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Philly restaurants invade Washington, D.C.

Watch out Washington, D.C.: Philly restauranteurs are coming to town. The Washington Post looks at this growing trend.

What's next, the Liberty Bell?

Philadelphia may be home to its own excellent food scene, but more and more chefs and restaurateurs from the city are making the 123-mile trek south, bringing both tried-and-true and new concepts to Washington.

There's Pizzeria Vetri, from the acclaimed Vetri Family Italian restaurant group; HipCityVeg, a vegan fast-casual chain; and Honeygrow, a fast-casual stir-fry chain. All three have plans this spring or summer to join a scene that already includes Philadelphia imports such as restaurateur Stephen Starr (Le Diplomate), coffee roaster and cafe La Colombe and chef Jose Garces (Rural Society), whose Village Whiskey bourbon and burger bar is in development here as well. 

"I always felt Washington was a cool market," said Starr, whose runaway success at Le Diplomate, the 14th Street NW brasserie that opened in 2013, sold more than a few Philadelphia chefs on the prospect of opening in the nation's capital. He began scouting the city in the late '90s but only pulled the trigger when he found the perfect location -- an old dry cleaner in a free-standing, one-story building with plenty of sidewalk space. He said he's also "close" to two more deals here.


Original source: The Washington Post
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Donkeys take over Philadelphia in advance of DNC

To get the city into the Democratic (Party) spirit, fiberglass donkeys will be placed around the city in advance of the Democratic National Convention.

Fifty-seven fiberglass donkeys will be displayed at various sites and attractions starting July 1. The symbol of the Democratic Party will represent each U.S. state, each territory, Washington, D.C., and Democrats abroad.

The donkeys will be painted with iconic images from each location, chosen by each state's delegates. The ideas were given to Philadelphia artists to create.

"Donkeys Around Town" is an effort to get residents in the convention spirit and encourage delegates and other visitors to explore the city. It's the brainchild of former Gov. Ed Rendell, who's the host committee chairman.

Rendell said he was inspired by a similar program in Erie a few years back that seemed to get tourists and locals excited to explore the city and the artworks.

"I think it's going to be great for the delegates and great for the residents," Rendell said.


Original source: Associated Press
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Kenney cancels city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi

In response to anti-LGBT laws passed in those southern states, the mayor will halt official visits.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a ban on all publicly funded and non-essential travel for city employees to Mississippi and North Carolina. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office confirmed with NBC10 the travel ban is in response to controversial laws from the two states which limit anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

The North Carolina law directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections, blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts. In Mississippi, legislation taking effect this summer will allow certain workers, including some in private businesses, to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Eastern State Penitentary explores mass incarceration

The historic site is now engaging with the present via a new exhibit, "Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration."

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 with the belief that criminals could redeem themselves, and it was cruel to crowd or mistreat them. The only light came from the skylight in the vaulted ceiling, sending the message that only the light of God and hard work could lead to reform.

By the 1930s, space meant to house 300 inmates instead held 2,000. By 1970, the year Eastern State closed, punishment was its primary mission.

Now, in a transformation that began modestly a few years ago, the penitentiary that housed such notorious criminals as gangster Al Capone and bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton is completing a retooling of its programming to place a major focus on growing questions about the effectiveness of America's prison system.

"Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration," an exhibit opening next month in workshops alongside one of the cellblocks, lets visitors know that the U.S. has the world's highest known percentage of incarcerated citizens. It also highlights large racial disparities in prison populations and the toll mass incarceration has taken on minority communities.

"Five years ago, I would have told you visitors didn't want to hear about this, that it would make them uncomfortable. They'd take this as being political, they'd be offended or they'd think we were trying to drive a political agenda," said Sean Kelley, exhibit curator for the nonprofit that has run the museum since 2001. "At every turn, we've been proven wrong."


Original source: Associated Press
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Philadelphia apologizes to Jackie Robinson

Sixty-nine years later, the City of Brotherly Love issues a mea culpa for its behavior towards the barrier-breaking ballplayer. 

Last summer, the Anderson Monarchs, a Philadelphia baseball team that featured the Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis, barnstormed through the South. They played baseball, and they also toured sites significant to the civil rights movement as a nod to the team’s heritage — it is named, after all, for the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro leagues club for which Jackie Robinson once played...

Nearly a year later, the team’s trip has helped inspire an apology being extended by Philadelphia to Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the start of the 1947 season.

The apology comes as Major League Baseball, on Friday, celebrates the 69th anniversary of Robinson’s first game with the Dodgers with its Jackie Robinson Day, initiated in 2004. Every major league player wears Robinson’s No. 42, an annual sight in baseball. What is different this year is the apology from the City of Philadelphia for the manner in which the Phillies treated Robinson when he began his career.


Original source: The New York Times
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Beer garden confirmed for Reading Viaduct

As we reported in December, a PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden is coming to Callowhill. The plans have now been confirmed.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plans to open two pop-up beer gardens, a return to 15th and South streets plus a new park at the foot of the Philadelphia Rail Park.

Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphians will get their first extended interaction with the planned Rail Park. A pop-up garden is set for 10th and Hamilton streets, at the base of the Reading Viaduct. Today, the area is a tangle of crumbling concrete, overgrown lots and decay, but with the help of PHS and noted landscape architect Walter Hood, the project aims to merge the post-industrial structure with urban green space. The pop-up will raise awareness for the creation of the Rail Park as it blends art, history and horticulture. The location is convenient to live music venues Union Transfer and Underground Arts, as well as the Chinatown and Callowhill neighborhoods. Perhaps even more so than the other PHS pop-ups, this location will challenge the way Philadelphians interact with and envision their urban spaces.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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High Times: Governor Wolf signs bill legalizing medical marijuana

Pennsylvania is the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law Sunday afternoon surrounded by a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Capitol building in Harrisburg...

The bill sets standards for tracking plants, certifying physicians and licensing growers, dispensaries and physicians. Patients could take marijuana in pill, oil, vapor, ointment or liquid form, but would not be able to legally obtain marijuana to smoke or grow.

Among those celebrating the victory was parent Dana Ulrich, who has fought for legal access to the drug in the belief that it would help her 8-year-old daughter Lorelei, who has numerous seizures every day.

"I never doubted for one second that this day would come," she told the crowd, thanking patient advocates and caregivers as well as lawmakers and the governor. "When you get a group of truly dedicated people together, that have the same goal and the same mind and the same hearts, you can achieve anything."

Wolf called it "a great, great day for Pennsylvania, but more important, a great day for Pennsylvanians." He said he and lawmakers were responding not to a special interest group or to campaign contributors, but to "a real human need." 


Original source: NBC 10
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Bye Bye Tokens: SEPTA Key finally coming in June

The long-awaited debut of SEPTA's automated pay system should finally arrive in June.

The transportation agency is making 10,000 SEPTA Key cards available on June 13 through a first-come, first-serve pilot program. Riders can buy the cards at kiosks in subway stations, and the cards will be usable as weekly or monthly transpasses on the subway, trolleys or buses.

The card program, which was originally scheduled to debut in 2013, is supposed to bring SEPTA’s antiquated fare system into the modern age. The card will allow riders to pay for fare plans with a debit or credit card.

On June 13 riders will be able to buy a $24 weekly plan on the new SEPTA Key cards. Monthly passes for July will be available June 20. SEPTA installed readers throughout the city’s transit network that will register fares when the card it tapped against them. If cards are lost or stolen users can put holds on them and get replacements. Users will eventually be able to set up accounts with Key similar to E-ZPass that will automatically replenish the card when funds get low. There will also be cards with more flexibility, including cards for single rides, coming down the line. Regional Rail wasn’t included in the initial rollout because of its size and more varied fare rates. It should be added to the network in 2017. SEPTA would like to eventually eliminate tokens and cash payments entirely.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly media outlet Billy Penn eyes expansion to second city

The online news site Billy Penn is eyeing a second publication in another city -- the finalists include Baltimore, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

In an interview with POLITICO conducted before the final cities were selected, Spirited Media founder and CEO Jim Brady said he was looking to launch a Billy Penn-like site in cities with a high percentage of young news consumers and a relatively compact size. More than half of Billy Penn’s audience is 35 years old or younger, Brady said, and the compactness of a city gives the company’s stories a better shot at having a citywide impact.

The possibility that Brady might bring his mobile-first local model to one of these three cities is thanks to a hefty investment from USA Today owner Gannett that was announced a few weeks ago...

Brady said that the final decision on which city to launch in next will come down to the journalism and business talent in the cities it chooses to focus on.

“What I want to do is get myself down to two or three cities, and then go to those cities and interview people and let that be the tie-breaker,” he said. “Finding the right people is paramount.”

Once Brady decides on a final city, the company will decide on a name and will staff up with about a half-dozen people on both the editorial and business sides. Brady said he expects to make a final decision by May 1. 


Original source: Politico New York
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Conde Nast Traveler publishes South Philly-centric list of top local eats

Conde Nast Traveler runs down the "6 Best Places to Eat in Philadelphia Right Now," and it has a decidedly southern (Philly) bent with Bing Bing Dim Sum, Coeur, Restaurant Neuf, Hungry Pigeon and Laurel. Kensington Quarters is the one outlier.

Philadelphia may be known for its cheesesteaks, and with good reason. But for those with a finer palette, or who are simply looking for a bite that's equal parts creative and delicious, head to one of these six new restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love. From a pan-Asian take on matzo ball soup to "Frenchified Algerian" and then some, chefs are bringing the heat—and the cheese, and the wine, and the....pigeon? (yup, pigeon)—turning down-to-earth Philly into a foodie's dream.

Original source: Conde Nast Traveler
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Aramark is staying put in Philadelphia

The good services giant is keeping its global headquarters in Philadelphia.

Chief executive Eric Foss said Thursday that after an extensive review, the company concluded that Philadelphia remains "the ideal choice for us."

The city has been the company's home since 1961.

Aramark had been considering a move before its lease expired in 2018.

The company says factors considered in its decision included overall business environment, access to talent, costs, diversity, transportation and quality of life.

Aramark is now weighing whether to remain at is current building or move to another location in the city. It says it will make that decision by summer's end.

Aramark says about 1,150 people work in management and management support roles at its global headquarters.


Original source: Associated Press
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New protected bike lanes in the works. Huzzah!

A big boost of funds means smooth sailing for local cyclists, as plans for new protected bike lanes comes into focus. PlanPhilly has the complete list of projects.

Thanks to $300,000 in federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funds recently awarded by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and another $200,000 expected to come from PennDOT, the Philadelphia Streets Department will soon upgrade and expand the city’s bike facility network with new protected and buffered bike lanes.

“Protected” bike lanes refer to lanes that use flexible plastic delineator posts to help physically separate automobile and bicycle traffic. “Buffered” bike lanes are slightly wider bike lanes that use a bit of extra paint to create a more visible buffer...

The goal of more and better bike lanes has already been approved in City Council through adoption of two iterations of the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, Philadelphia’s Complete Streets Design Handbook, the city’s comprehensive Philadelphia 2035 Citywide Vision city plan, and in all of District Plans completed so far—each developed after three rounds of public feedback meetings planned in conjunction with district councilmen and RCOs. There will be at least one more public feedback session per bike infrastructure project. And with each, another shot for opponents to shout the project down.


Original source: PlanPhilly
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Delivery app Favor lands in Philly

Favor is the latest app-based delivery system to come to town. How will it handle the competition? 

A Texas-based on-demand delivery app has come to Philadelphia, promising to deliver goods — including food from local restaurants — to residents in less than an hour, competing with companies already in the market like Instacart and Postmates.
Favor of Austin, Texas., launched in June 2013 and has since expanded to more than 20 cities across the United States with more than 10,000 so-called personal delivery assistants, or "runners."

"We've always been excited about Philly," said Ben Doherty, cofounder and COO. "I researched the market a long time ago, and I thought it was a really great potential place to launch."

"Overall, Philly is a dense market; it has lots of students and young working professionals," Doherty said. "That's generally who we focus on for our market."

Favor's runners will serve Philadelphia neighborhoods, including Temple University, University City, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Fairmount, Center City and Old City.

The app connects customers to a runner, who will pick up and deliver "anything from tacos, to groceries, to your laundry that you’ve neglected to pick up," according to Favor.

"We do deliver anything you want," Doherty said. "That's a strong value proposition. Because they're personal assistants, they can act on your behalf and purchase anything you need."

Delivery times average about 35 minutes, according to the company. There is a flat deliver fee rate of $5 in Philadelphia plus 5 percent of the cost of the item ordered, Doherty said.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Starr Restaurants hires high-profile new culinary director

Starr Restaurants has hired a new head honcho with a New York pedigree.

When Alex Lee resigned his pressure-cooker position as executive chef atDaniel in 2003 to become the executive chef at Glen Oaks country club in Old Westbury, N.Y., he may as well have gone to Mars. A high-profile star seemed to have left the picture.

Now he is back in the restaurant world as the culinary director of Starr Restaurants, Stephen Starr’s fast-growing group of 34 restaurants, most in Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Lee, who started last week, will oversee all of them and the other corporate chefs in the organization. Mr. Starr said he expected Mr. Lee to concentrate on the company’s new restaurants...

Hiring Mr. Lee is yet another example of Mr. Starr’s ability to attract marquee chefs. His roster already includes Masaharu Morimoto, Douglas Rodriguez, Justin Smillie, Jason Atherton from London and Daniel Rose from Paris.


Original source: The New York Times
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'Broad City' comes to Philadelphia

Well, the suburbs of Philadelphia. On the Comedy Central show, dynamic duo Abbi and Ilana take the train to 30th Street Station and then head to Abbi's (Jacobson's real life) hometown of Wayne. Tony Danza played her pop. Check out the episode here.

Original source: Comedy Central
932 Articles | Page: | Show All
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