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Brutal winter bruises the local economy

The relentless cold and snow has had a big impact on small businesses, including those in Philadelphia.

At London Grill, a restaurant in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, revenue is down 10 percent more than in the usual January slump, said Terry Berch McNally, a co-owner. But weather can also be fickle: On Thursday, just as Ms. McNally was fretting about whether her Valentine’s Day bookings would fall through, the afternoon brought twice as many drinkers as usual because local employers had closed early.

When weather strikes repeatedly, losses can build up. Valentine’s Day was blissfully sunny, putting an end to the immediate worries of both Ms. McNally, who got a flurry of last-minute reservations, and Susan McKee, at Old City Flowers in Philadelphia.

Thankfully, Ms. McKee said, the biggest day of the year for florists would not be a bust. But her revenue for 2014 is down about half from what it would usually be. Inventory has been hard to get because of grounded planes. Walk-in sales have been slow.

“It’s crushing me,” she said on Thursday, when Philly was blanketed by snow and ice. “I have thousands of dollars invested in perishable gorgeous flowers that I can’t get anywhere. I have three trucks parked outside the store, and I can’t move the trucks. This day is lost. There was no revenue today.”


Orginal source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.


Local organizations partner behind new slogan, 'PHL: Here for the Making'

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau and other partners are putting forth a new slogan for the city -- PHL: Here for the Making. They hope to encourage not only visitors but businesses to head to Philly.

Rob Wunderling, president and CEO of the chamber, says it sparks a new energy at the grass-roots level.

“We really believe that the citizens in the greater Philadelphia region want to make something happen here,” he says. “They want to make it here. It can be made here.”

Wunderling says 42 percent of the leads for companies considering coming to the Philadelphia region come from individual Philadelphians who reside here.

“So we want everybody to sing from the same page,” he says, “and that is truly we are here for the making.”


Original source: CBS News
Read the complete story here.

'Michael Snow: Photo-Centric' debuts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting a survey of photographer Michael Snow's work.

But Mr. Snow is a bit of a polymath; he also paints, sculpts, performs as a jazz pianist and assembles photo installations that are as rigorously structural as his films but are also, surprisingly, quite playful. He hasn’t had a museum show of his photography since 1976, when the Museum of Modern Art gave him a small “Projects” exhibition. “Michael Snow: Photo-Centric” gives us a long overdue look at his work in the medium — starting with projects from the 1960s that overlap with film and performance and continuing to supersize staged color prints that reflect photo trends of the early 2000s.

Original source: The New York Times
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Local 'Project Runway' winner Dom Streater shows at New York Fashion Week

Project Runway winner (and Philly resident) Dom Streater exhibited a colorful collection at New York Fashion Week -- her first show since her victory.

The luminous, naturally lit whitewashed studio was precisely scattered with models donning Streater’s blooming bright pieces. It was a particularly cold windy day in the Big Apple, but these garments seemed to be projecting their own sort of sunshine. In the months between earning her fashion fame and displaying her newest collection, 25-year-old Dom has managed to quit her waitressing job at Silk City Diner – that supported her fashion ventures – and settle into a place of her own; a studio apartment on Pine Street in Center City...

The foundation of Streater’s clothing was unapologetically girly. The palette offered shades of red, pink, black and gray that were arranged in custom floral-inspired patterns, both on their own or placed with a solid color. These custom patterns, a skill that crowned her Runway queen, are what made her collection a standout.


Here's a preview of the collection.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story and check out the pictures here.

Philly designers want to manufacture locally, but challenges abound

The Philadelphia Inquirer dives into familiar territory -- local designers (like Sarah Van Aken) want to manufacture locally, but the roadblocks are manifold.

The city may tout its creative community and the growing retail scene - it even hosts a version of fashion week in September - but retaining that talent is a challenge, now reaching critical mass, when Philadelphia lacks skilled sewers, cutters, and patternmakers. "Everyone knows the quality is just not here," said Karen Randal, director of the office of business attraction and retention in Philadelphia's Commerce Department. "[It's] not what you expect to find at a good retailer."

Olubodun, like many young apparel designers, wants one day to present Philadelphia-made collections during New York Fashion Week, now underway at Lincoln Center through Thursday.

But current conditions - too few workers and manufacturing facilities that accommodate smaller orders - means they're stuck either sewing their own wares or spending money for larger runs they don't need. Either option makes it difficult to fill accounts with larger retailers - the road to brand recognition. Forget about affording a New York runway presentation.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


New York Times takes note of new Comcast tower

The big Comcast tower news got Philadelphia some national press, including in the New York Times.

The influx of young technology employees to a building designed by a prestigious international architect is likely to encourage boosters of a city that has long harbored an inferiority complex because it lacks either the financial power of New York or the political clout of Washington.

“This new development really speaks to a more favorable outlook for the city,” said [Michael Silverman, managing director in the Philadelphia office of Integra Realty Resources].

The $1.2 billion building will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, adding $2.75 billion to the local economy, according to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who announced the project, along with Comcast officials, on Jan. 15.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Grub Street examines the NYC-to-Philly trend

Why do New York chefs come to Philly? And what makes this town different? Grub Street tackled the issue.

It's easy to think that people who leave New York couldn't hack it in the city's cutthroat restaurant environment. But recently, chefs are relocating just as they're poised to make it big here, opting for the comfort of Philly overpotential celebrity in New York. Peter Serpico left his justly celebrated role within the Momofuku empire to open Serpico on South Street in June. Meanwhile, after two years working at Torrisi Italian Specialties, Eli Kulp was poised to become the executive chef and partner of a little restaurant called Carbone (perhaps you've heard of it?). Instead, Kulp teamed up with Ellen Yin’s sixteen-year-old Philly restaurant, Fork, launched a spinoff called High Street on Market, and, most recently, got named the Philadelphia Inquirer's "Chef of the Year." So, what's the draw?

Original source: Grub Street
Read the entire story here.

Philly chefs share favorite 'under the radar' spots

We Feast asked top local chefs about their favorite places to eat when they're not working -- we agree with quite a few of them. Joe Cicala of Le Virtu repped Los Gallos, a killer Mexican spot in South Philly.

“I do a lot of takeout due to my grueling work schedule, and Los Gallos satisfies my Mexican craving. It’s always good—I like the cemitas poblanos and tacos a la plancha—affordable, and it’s right around the corner.” 

Original source: We Feast
Check out the complete list here.


Opera Philadelphia commissions work based on saxophonist Charlie Parker

Opera Philadelphia has commissioned Daniel Schnyder to create a chamber opera about the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

The opera, “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” is set on the day Parker died — March 12, 1955 — but takes place in his imagination as he is dying. The tenor Lawrence Brownlee will play Parker; Angela Brown, the soprano, will portray his mother, Addie, and Will Liverman, the baritone, will play Dizzy Gillespie, a frequent collaborator. Casting has not been announced for the other roles, which will include Parker’s patron, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Corrado Rovaris, the company’s music director, who suggested Mr. Schnyder for the commission, is scheduled to conduct the premiere.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Innovative Philadelphia clinic offers healthcare to undocumented immigrants

Puentes de Salud, a Penn-funded clinic, provides health care to those outside the system, including undocumented immigrants.

Puentes de Salud, which in English means “bridges of health,” was founded to provide low-cost but quality health care and social services to the growing Latino population in South Philadelphia and began treating patients in 2006. A co-founder, Dr. Steve Larson, said the organization distinguished itself from other community-health groups by addressing the underlying causes of illness, like poor nutrition, illiteracy or urban violence.

"It’s not about me writing prescriptions," said Dr. Larson, 53, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who said he began to develop his approach to community medicine while working in rural Nicaragua in the early 1990s. "This is an underground health system."


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Keeping a brewery small can reap dividends

Small-production breweries can create demand for their products -- it might be a good lesson for future craft brewers.

Hill Farmstead, in the hamlet of Greensboro, produces just 60,000 gallons of beer annually. The beer is available for purchase only at the brewery and in roughly 20 Vermont bars. In addition, Mr. Hill sends 12 kegs to distributors in New York City and Philadelphia a few times a year...

From the start, his philosophy has been to make the best beer possible without pursuing what he calls “infinite, boundless growth.” He operates under the belief that beer is a perishable item, “just like lettuce or broccoli,” he says, and should be consumed locally, not shipped long distances.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 
 

Announcement of new Comcast tower has city abuzz

A new skyscraper will rise above Philadelphia thanks to Comcast. The city was abuzz with chatter about the new addition, including Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron.

Until now, America's most glamorous tech companies have largely been housed in suburban oases, velvet prisons that offer employees endless supplies of vitamin water and protein bars, but require lengthy commutes in company caravans from San Francisco to the cluttered highway strips of Silicon Valley. There's plenty of interaction inside the bubble, but hardly any with the wider world.

With its new 1,121-foot-tall loft building, designed by Britain's Norman Foster, Comcast fashions a rebuttal to all that. Think of the towering waterfall of glass that was unveiled Wednesday as a skyscraper version of the great, light-filled factory lofts of the early 20th century, but wedged into the unpredictable heart of Center City atop the region's densest transit hub. In the six years since Comcast embedded itself in one of the city's more straight-laced corporate towers, it has done a complete 180: Its second high-rise should be a glorious vertical atelier where employees can make a mess while they invent and build stuff.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Do animals have a sweet tooth? Monell scientists are on the case

How do animals experience sweetness? And what does that tell us about how sugar effects the brain? These are just a few of the questions being examined at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

Some mammals have lost the capacity for sensing either sweet or savory: In 2012, a team led by Peihua Jiang of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found this to be the case among marine mammals like Asian otters, bottlenose dolphins and sea lions — species that tend not to chew their food. “It kind of makes sense,” says Paul Breslin, another taste physiologist based at Monell and Rutgers University. “If it looks like a fish and swims like a fish, and it’s hard to catch, they’ll swallow it whole. So they don’t need to taste.”

But what about substances that mimic sugar, like the noncaloric sweeteners many of us depend on? The human flytrap clamps down on sugar, but it also grabs Sweet’N Low and Splenda and lots of other chemicals — both artificial and natural — that approximate the flavor. Do other animals have the same response? If a dog likes the taste of Coca-Cola, will it show the same response to Diet Coke?


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philly photographer paints portrait of Rust Belt town in 'Homesteading'

Noted local photographer Zoe Strauss -- of "Under I-95" fame -- has a new project, 'Homesteading,' that examines life in a post-steel mill town.

“Homesteading” combines landscapes, street photography and formal studio portraits to explore over generations the history of those who built Andrew Carnegie’s wealth, the ways their fates were intertwined and the current lives of Homestead’s residents. After a year of research, she found it daunting to blend themes of globalization, a mythic past and the trauma of that past in a mundane 21st-century community. She actually felt she had reached the limits of what she could do with photography. So, she did what she always does when overwhelmed: Let strangers show her the way...

Ms. Strauss is not your typical Magnum photographer — she describes herself as a lesbian anarchist from Philadelphia and is unfailingly humble. She is interested as much by theory as by photographic practice, and she loves and is influenced by science fiction, art theory and epic poetry.


Original source: New York Times' Lens blog
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Museum of Art receives major gift of contemporary works

Keith L. Sachs, the former chief executive of Saxco International, and his wife, Katherine are giving a major gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from their contemporary collection.

The couple are also major buyers of contemporary art, working closely with museum curators to amass a top-flight collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 1950s to the present. This week, the museum announced that it had been promised a lion’s share of the Sachs holdings. Included in the gift are 97 works by contemporary masters like Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden and Gerhard Richter, worth nearly $70 million, according to auction house experts asked for their assessment. Timothy Rub, the museum’s director, said it was one of the most important gifts of contemporary art in the institution’s 138-year history.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the compelete story here.
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