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PA liquor laws take step into the future: Wine in grocery stores!

Pennsylvania's liquor laws have long contained vestiges of prohibition -- especially when it comes to wine sales. Now that is changing.

Barely a day after it sped through the House and unexpectedly landed on his desk, Gov. Wolf on Wednesday signed a law to let hundreds of restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores sell wine.

The bill takes effect in 60 days, though it might take months for consumers to see the impact.

Besides granting by-the-bottle wine licenses for stores that already sell beer, the measure takes steps to loosen the state's oft-criticized control of the alcohol market.

It permits direct shipments of wine to homes, and removes restrictions on when State Stores can open on Sundays and holidays. It also gives the Liquor Control Board flexibility in pricing, and provides licenses allowing casinos to sell alcohol around the clock.

"For the last 80-some years we have not been able to do this, so this truly is historic," Wolf said in an afternoon signing ceremony...

The LCB operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores, and consumers can also purchase bottles at wineries or through a state website.

The law expands the roster of potential wine vendors to include about 10,000 holders of restaurant licenses - including more than 300 grocery and convenience stores now allowed to sell beer - and about 1,200 holders of hotel licenses, according to Elizabeth Brassell, an LCB spokeswoman.

Any of those businesses could seek a permit allowing them to sell up to four bottles of wine per customer for off-premises consumption until 11 at night.


Original source: Philly.com
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Has the farmers' market movement hit a plateau?

?As the local food movement matures, farmers' markets are trying to figure out the perfect formula. While some new markets have opened in recent years, others have closed or retooled. Philly is now home to about 40 markets.

Headhouse, arguably the city's most venerable farmers' market, is marking its 10th year. A lot has changed in that time...The number of markets has nearly doubled since 2006, to 8,476 last year.

But there are signs the movement might be plateauing.

Farmers' overall sales at markets, after climbing dramatically, declined about 1 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

And though there are several new markets this year, others have closed.

"The landscape has changed, in that there are a lot of places for folks to get local food," said Lisa Kelly, who manages Headhouse for the nonprofit Food Trust. Competition includes CSAs, boutiques like Green Aisle Grocery, and even Walmart. "We're not the only game in town anymore."

Jon Glyn, farmers' market program manager at Farm to City, said the business has been maturing.

"I feel like we're hitting the second wave of the farmers' market movement," he said.

"For 10 or 15 years, we've had a lot of interest in farmers' markets. Every neighborhood wanted their own, and even old-school farmers that gave up on farmers' markets in the '80s and '90s are now coming back. Some of our markets are on their 10th year, and they've actually inspired this new generation of young people who are getting into farming. But they're having trouble finding spots at farmers' markets that already have established vendors, and everyone is fighting for the same dollars."


Original source: Philly.com
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Philly closer to becoming first major city to pass soda tax

The New York Times takes a look at Philly's soda tax proposal, and why it might succeed where others failed. 

If the measure passes a final vote next week, as it is expected to do, it will impose a tax of 1.5 cents for every ounce that includes sugar or artificial sweeteners — about 30 cents for a 20-ounce drink or $2.16 for a 12-pack. On Wednesday night, it was passed on a voice vote by the City Council’s “committee of the whole,” which includes the entire council.

Mayor Jim Kenney’s original proposal was to tax sugary drinks at 3 cents an ounce, a rate that would have doubled the price of many sodas. Aware of the political challenges, he tried a novel strategy to promote his tax. Instead of selling it as a nanny state measure meant to make the city healthier, he presented it as a big untapped source of revenue that could be used to pay for popular initiatives, including expanded prekindergarten, and renovations of city libraries and recreation centers.

That choice appears to have paid off, but it may come with some consequences. Because the measure was cast as a revenue-raiser, the final deal is not exactly what public health experts might prefer. Council members, in negotiations, altered the spectrum of taxed products to hit budget targets. The measure that passed Wednesday taxes not just sugary drinks but also diet drinks. It exempts juice drinks from the tax as long as they have 50 percent juice, even if they also have added sugar. Minutes before the final vote at 8 p.m., the city’s finance department revealed that some soda-tax revenue would also be used to plug a budget shortfall...

“There has been much discussion around the world and within the U.S. to adopt soda taxes,” Kelly Brownell, the dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and a soda-tax advocate, said in an email. “Philadelphia has now created an entirely new level of momentum.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Atlas Obscura visits Fairmount Park cave linked to 17th century cult

?Built into the side of a hill in Fairmount Park, the "Kelpius Cave" is believed to have been home to America’s first cult of mystics to predict the apocalypse. Atlas Obscura investigates.

Although cynics suspect the structure is simply an old springhouse, tradition holds that this area along the banks of Wissahickon Creek was settled in 1694 by mystic and scholar Johannes Kelpius and his followers. Believing, based on elaborate interpretation of the Bible's "Book of Revelations," that the world was going to end that year, the monks sought to live a solitary lifestyle in the wilderness while awaiting the End of Days and the Second Coming...

When the end of the world did not come as planned, Kelpius and the monks stayed in the Wissahickon, creating art and music, studying the skies, and helping the community around them when they could. The group mostly disbanded after Kelpius’s death in 1708, though many stayed in the community as doctors and lawyers. One of the later members of the Society, Christopher Witt, painted the first oil painting in America, with Kelpius as his subject. The painting is currently housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

Until the 1940s, the structure dubbed Cave of Kelpius had a fireplace and chimney, which were removed due to vandalism, but do hint at its having been more than a springhouse. The cave's true identity has been debated for many years. It's marked today by a granite monolith placed outside the entrance in 1961 by the Rosicrucians (meaning "rose" and "cross"), a worldwide mystical brotherhood that claims to have secret wisdom dating to ancient Egypt, and considers Kelpius the original American Rosicrucian.

Today, you'll find the enigmatic structure located on the trails near the southern end of the 1,800-acre Wissahickon Valley Park, a section of Fairmount Park in Northwest Philadelphia. The cave is sometimes used as a homeless shelter today, so be mindful before entering. 


Original source: Atlas Obscura
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Federal Donuts expands to Nashville, Miami

The local chicken-and-donuts chain continues its quest for world domination, announcing plans for locations in Miami and Nashville. 

It's all happening. The best fried chicken and doughnuts in the country are no longer confined to Philadelphia. Congratulations, America, you're getting more Federal Donuts.

Philadelphia's beloved fried-chicken-and-doughnuts-and-coffee chainlet was founded in 2011 by acclaimed chef and 2014 Eater Chef of the Year Michael Solomonov with his Zahav restaurant partner Steve Cook, local coffee shop owners Tom Henneman and Bobby Logue, and Philly food maven Felicia D'Ambrosio. The brand (often referred to as to FedNuts) opened to epic lines and now boasts five locations in Philadelphia. Fried chicken and doughnuts were a rare combination in the first years of this decade, but diners can now find similar chicken and doughnut shops across the country.

Federal Donuts' owners have been teasing more locations for years. Back in 2014, Cook told Philadelphia Business Journal that he was looking at "cities that are drivable [to] Philadelphia" for potential new locations. So it was truly surprising when Eater learned earlier this week that the first two locations outside Philadelphia would be opening in the far-flung cities of Nashvilleand Miami. The FedNuts crew has opened the floodgates and is in full expansion mode.


Original source: Eater
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The New York Times spends 36 hours in Philadelphia

The Gray Lady's iconic recurring travel feature visits Philadelphia in advance of the DNC. Check out their itinerary here. 

With the Democratic National Convention to be held here in July, and its expected influx of 50,000 people, Philadelphia is more than ready to show itself off to the world. Thanks to a compact city center and plenty of bike lanes — plus a popular bike-share program — Philadelphia rewards exploration on two feet or two wheels. A college town, the city has a young vibe and a profusion of happy hours, as well as one of the most dynamic culinary landscapes in the country. The restaurant scene is expanding rapidly, from Frankford Avenue in the north to Passyunk Avenue in the south, discarding traditional “red sauce” Italian restaurants and working-class bars in favor of indie B.Y.O.B.s and elegant cafes. With an ever-increasing number of stellar museums, the transformation of industrial spaces into artist studios and a newly invigorated clutch of outdoorsy offerings, the city has never been more inviting — and not just to the Democrats.

Original source: The New York Times
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Bart Blatstein to reopen A.C. casino, but without the casino part

The Philadelphia developer is bullish on Atlantic City, and he's starting with the Showboat. 

Real estate developer Bart Blatstein said on Friday he will reopen the Showboat, one of Atlantic City's four shuttered casino hotels, in July, but without the gambling.

Blatstein, chief executive of Philadelphia-based Tower Investments, said in a statement that 852 hotel rooms will open in two towers at the Showboat, making it the largest non-casino hotel in New Jersey...

The Showboat carries a deed restriction that currently prevents it from reopening the casino. Former Showboat owner Caesars Entertainment Corp closed it in 2014 even though it had been marginally profitable.

Asked whether he would ever seek to reopen the casino at Showboat, Blatstein said in a phone interview that "all options are open ... It's a remarkable property. I'm very bullish on Atlantic City."

He aims to open the hotel by July 4, though it could take an additional week.

"To open up that many rooms in a month's time, it's a lot of sheets and pillowcases. It's a lot of work," he said.

Blatstein has other developments in the seaside resort town, including the boardwalk entertainment and retail complex The Playground at Caesars casino hotel.


Original source: Reuters (via The New York Times)
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Shark Tank auditions come to Philadelphia

Casting for the entrepreneurship-based reality show is coming to Temple University this weekend. Get your pitches ready!

Entrepreneurial students at Temple University might find themselves on national TV in a few months pitching their best business ideas. The hit ABC show Shark Tank will host a casting session at Temple this Saturday, June 11th. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., students, alumni, faculty and staff will be able to pitch their business ideas to the show’s casting team in hopes of winning a future spot in front of the “sharks.” 

The show, which received Emmy awards in 2014 and 2015, gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to woo over self-made millionaires and billionaires in hopes of securing an investment for their own business. After six seasons, the judges have already offered $66 million to a various start-ups, according to the show’s website.

The casting session will be held at Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business and involves a quick one-minute pitch and follow-up questions with the show’s casting directors. From there, a few people may be chosen to move on to the next round, which is taped and aired.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Click here for details. 

International company establishes U.S. headquarters in Philly

Pruftechnik, global provider of high-quality testing and measuring systems for industrial maintenance, has decided on Philadelphia for it's United States base.

The German company will add 35 new jobs to region, investing $1.4 million in the project. The decision comes a few months after the Kenney Administration said Germany would be a focus of efforts to recruit international businesses to the city.

Pruftechnik's Philadelphia office will hold sales and management positions at a renovated building on Bartram Avenue. Pruftechnik Services, a subsidiary that provides specialized machinery services, will also reside in the city.

“The new operation enables Pruftechnik to bridge the gap between R&D, product management, international sales and production in Germany, and the end-user community in the United States," said Florian Buder, Pruftechnik's North American CEO. "The ‘factory direct’ approach makes us more customer-centric.”


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Slide the City bails on Philly

The giant urban waterslide event is once again skipping its Philadelphia stop. Turns out the City wasn't too stoked about the organization.

Following last week’s announcement that Slide the City would come to Philadelphia this summer after missing a scheduled 2015 date, the event has again been canceled.
 
Slide the City was scheduled to bring its 1,000-foot slip-and-slide to Sedgley Drive in Fairmount Park by the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday, Aug. 6. However, as Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Mayor Kenney’s administration, tells us, a permit for Slide the City will not be issued.

"We just felt like they weren't great partners," she said in an interview today.

She also said five other parties had already reserved the picnic and pavilion areas at Lemon Hill where the slide was hoping to set up Aug. 6.

Slide the City last year canceled its Philadelphia stop at the last minute after months of promotion. In an email following last year’s cancelation, Slide the City said simply that "our season is coming to an end" and that "we’re sad we can’t come to Philadelphia this year."


Philly Voice has more on the conflict.

Original source: Philly.com
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Philly's parks mapped via Google Street View

A new Google Street View initiative -- launched in collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy -- will make it possible to visualize 200 miles of trails and visit various sites within the country's largest urban park system.

Launched in in 2007, the Street View feature of Google Maps has done wonders for misty-eyed nostalgia and real estate voyeurism. That is, the technology has made it dually possible to remotely revisit your childhood cul-de-sac and place yourself squarely in front of that fixer-upper of a dream home across town that might, fingers crossed, come on the market sooner than later.

More recently, Google Street View has embraced armchair adventure tourism and gone off-road, so to speak, with the addition of dozens of far-flung — and a few not all that far-flung — destinations ranging from the Galapagos Islands to Grand Canyon and the Pyramids of Giza. Does the fact that you may never have the chance to visit the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Wieliczka Salt Mine or Finland’s one-and-only Santa Claus Village in your lifetime keep you up at night? Now, you can visit all three in a single evening through the magic of 360-degree panoramic imagery...Philadelphia, home to Fairmount Park, will be the first city to digitally document its entire park system on Google Street View as part of the tech giant’s Google Trekker program...

Equipped with a 15-lens camera apparatus that snaps panoramic images every three seconds, the 50-pound Google Trekker backpack is on loan — so Philadelphia better work fast to capture every nook and cranny of its park system within the allotted six-month time frame. From the sound of it, the city hired the right gents to perform the task. Both experienced hikers, Conor Michaud is a gym instructor and Gint Stirbys is a professional mover. On their feet from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m., the roving documentarians will alternate duties — one will don the super-hefty camera-backpack while the other will walk ahead to clear the parks’ trails by removing any obstacles or litter.


Original source: Mother Nature Network
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Suburban Chinatowns on the rise, including one in Exton

Chinese immigrants are increasingly gravitating towards suburban communities. This is both a result of urban core gentrification and shifting tastes. In the Philadelphia region, Exton has a booming Chinese population. 
 
Leong says Chinatowns on the East Coast are becoming a lot less Chinese. He and a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently studied the Chinatowns of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and found that gentrification and rising housing costs were making it hard for blue-collar immigrants to live there. Their study found that in 1990, Asian residents comprised 45 to 75 percent of the three Chinatown neighborhoods. Twenty years later, they made up 42 to 46 percent. During that time, the white population doubled in Philadelphia and Boston’s Chinatown neighborhoods...

America’s new Chinatowns are basically strip malls in the suburbs, says Leong. The town of  Exton, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia where the average home value is about $340,000, is a good example of one. During a recent visit, I noticed a handful of Chinese restaurants and grocery stores scattered among big-box retailers like Walmart and Toys “R” Us. In 2000, only six percent of Exton’s residents were Asian. Now, about 20 percent are. Many Indian and Chinese immigrants who live there work for big financial and pharmaceutical companies in the area.

Cheryl Wang, a risk analyst for a large U.S. bank, lives in Exton with her husband and their two children. She says about half of her neighbors are Asian and the other half are white. Wang, 42, is representative of many of the new Chinese immigrants: She has two master’s degrees, one in information sciences and the other in business administration, and has spent most of adult life in the Philadelphia suburbs. She avoids Chinatown at all costs. “Our backgrounds are very different—we speak different languages,” says Wang, who speaks Mandarin. “I really dislike [Chinatown]. It's not as clean as the suburbs and there are a lot of crowds.” Wang says she prefers the peacefulness of the suburbs, where, unlike in China, she doesn’t need connections to get her children into good schools.
 
Original source: The Atlantic
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Curtis Institute receives $55 million gift

The Center City music school gets a huge boost.

The Curtis Institute of Music, the prestigious conservatory in Philadelphia, announced on Thursday that it has been given a $55 million gift from the outgoing chairwoman of its board, Nina Baroness von Maltzahn. It is one of the largest gifts ever made to an American music school, and a statement from the conservatory described the gift as the largest single donation it had received since Mary Louise Curtis Bok established its tuition-free policy in 1928.

The statement said that the gift would be added to its endowment to help support a number of strategic initiatives — one of which is to remain tuition-free — as the conservatory prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2024.


Original source: The New York Times
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'PoliticalFest' to entertain Democrats in July

When the Democratic National Convention comes to Philly, there will be a host of entertainment options for politicos.

Interactive exhibits, displays, games and theater celebrating American political history will be offered across seven downtown locations from July 22 to 27 as part of "PoliticalFest."

The Oval Office set from the TV series "The West Wing" will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. At the National Constitution Center, the festival hub, actors who have played presidents on stage or on screen will take part in answer-and-question sessions.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, the host committee chairman, says the festival will help showcase Philadelphia.

Tickets on sale at www.phldnc.com will provide entry to all venues as well as bus transportation.


Original source: Associated Press
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Temple gifts 'baby boxes' to new moms to promote infant health

In a year-long project, Temple University Hospital will give free "baby boxes" to all moms who deliver there. This simple act could save lives.

It might seem a little strange to put your newborn baby in a cardboard box. But one hospital is teaching moms that it's the safest thing possible for their little bundles of joy...The idea is to decrease the rate of "co-sleeping," the practice of parents sleeping in the same bed as their babies. Done incorrectly, co-sleeping is associated with a higher risk of infant mortality. According to Philly.com, many local parents co-sleep with their kids because it's part of their culture, or their parents co-slept with them. Others do so because they can't afford a crib, or lack the space for one. 

The boxes are functioning bassinets and come with a sheet and a firm mattress, which help keep the baby sleeping on his or her back and away from toys and stuffed animals. They also contain essential items for the baby, like onesies and baby books. The boxes, manufactured by The Baby Box Company, are worth around $80 to $100 each...

Baby boxes are popular elsewhere in the world, and parents in the U.S. are just now taking notice. In Finland, the government gives them out to every new mom, and the practice dramatically dropped the country's infant mortality rates.


Original source: Good Housekeeping
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391 Media Articles | Page: | Show All
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