Busy weekend: Veterans benefit, comics festival, Halloween hijinks at the Woodlands and more

Posted on 24 October 2014

Saturday, Oct 25

LocustMoonComicsFestLocust Moon Comics Festival

If comics is your thing (or might be your thing or was your thing or is your partner’s thing) get yourself over to The Rotunda on Saturday for the third annual Locust Moon Comics Festival. This thing will include some fine independent cartoonists and creators, including: Paul Pope (Battling Boy), Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Dean Haspiel (The Alcoholic), Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales), Denis Kitchen (The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen) and Farel Dalrymple (The Wrenchies), as well as local stars like Box Brown (Andre the Giant: Life and Legend), Dave Bullock (Justice League: The New Frontier), and J.G. Jones (Wanted).

The festival will include workshops, panels and discussion on the art, history and business of comics.

Several artists will debut new work at the festival, including the Locust Moon work Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream – a kickstarter funded Winsor McKay Tribute.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Entrance is by optional donation. No advanced tickets are needed. Kids 13 and under are admitted free. Here is a schedule.  Continue Reading

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West Philly restaurant news: 48th Street Grille opens; Preview party for Amari’s at 50th and Baltimore

Posted on 24 October 2014

Apart from the proposal for a restaurant/bar with second floor dining at 4301 Baltimore, we’re happy to report on two more new restaurants opening in the area.


Photo from 48th Street Grille’s Facebook page.

After much anticipation and a few delays, 48th Street Grille, a full-service restaurant and catering business offering “fresh, modern Caribbean-American cuisine” has opened at 310 S 48th St (between Spruce and Pine). The first day of soft opening for the restaurant, which occupies a portion of the retail space at the Center for Culinary Enterprises, was last Friday.

Executive chef/owner Carl Lewis Sr. prepares some delicious food, according to neighbors who already visited the restaurant. In addition to the restaurant’s standard menu, it will offer daily and weekly specials, “highlighting the chef’s talents with seasonal produce, meats, and fish,” according to its Facebook page. While the food is great and the staff are super friendly, the service needs fine-tuning, according to neighbor reviews. But it’s understandable since the restaurant has just opened. Also something to keep in mind for those who like a glass of wine/beer with their dinner: the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol and currently doesn’t have a BYOB option. We’ll let you know if this changes.  Continue Reading

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Proposed Local 44-related bar/restaurant at 43rd and Baltimore to get zoning look Monday

Posted on 24 October 2014

Spruce Hill residents have a chance to learn more about proposals for new apartment buildings, business applications and other development in their neighborhood on Monday, Oct. 27 during a Spruce Hill zoning meeting. The meeting, which will take place at the Spruce Hill Center at 257 S. 45th Street, is organized by the Spruce Hill Community Association and is open to all interested neighbors and residents.

BestHousePizzaIncluded on the agenda is the replacement for the Best House Pizza at 4301 Baltimore Ave., which is proposed to include upstairs dining. As we reported earlier this month, the Best House Pizza closed its doors at 43rd and Baltimore after eight years of operation and Local 44 owners were in the process of signing the lease with plans to open a new establishment in that location in Spring 2015. A source from the Spruce Hill Community Association said earlier that the organization was waiting to see if the new owners would request any zoning variances, which would trigger a public hearing on the project. As the process is obviously underway, stay tuned for more updates.

Here are other items on the agenda. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.:

 Legalization of a boarding house status at 4011 Baltimore Avenue
 Application for multi-family dwelling at 217 S. 42nd Street
 Construction of an apartment dwelling at 4100-02 Ludlow Street

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WPL’s 2014 Pumpkin Carving Contest underway; Check out the sponsors (updated)

Posted on 23 October 2014

Many thanks to all who already submitted photos of their carved creations for West Philly Local‘s 2014 Pumpkin Carving Contest. Here’s a reminder that we’re accepting contest entries until 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31. After that there will be Readers’ Choice voting and all the winners will be announced on November 3. Please read more information on how to enter the contest here.

We would like to thank this year’s sponsors, all local businesses and organizations, who are providing prizes: Cafe Renata, Curio Theatre, Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, International House Philadelphia, Lil’ Pop Shop, Mariposa Food Co-op, Penn Museum, NEW! Rx The FarmacySabrina’s Cafe, and VIX Emporium.

NOTE: Some readers put photos of their jack-o’-lanterns on Instagram and linked them to our site (hashtag #westphillylocal). Please make sure to also email them to: with your name, address and age (if you’re entering the Kids’ category). Thank you! We’re looking forward to more submissions.

Pumpkin Contest 2014 copy

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45th Street news: House demolished for apartments; new face, name for Watusi II

Posted on 23 October 2014


245 S. 45th Street earlier this week. (Photos by West Philly Local)

We’re catching up on the news of an old house being demolished on 45th Street between Spruce and Locust. Naked Philly reported last week that demolition work had begun on an old home in Spruce Hill at 245 S. 45th St. Well, the building, which is a 3780 sq. foot condo home built in 1935, was demolished earlier this week to make way for an eight-unit apartment building, according to the licence. The building was sold in June for $275,000 to Dvora Properties.

The property has been vacant for years. It was in deteriorating condition and had multiple code violations. It’s zoned RM1, which allows construction of multi-unit housing.

Dvora Properties is reportedly associated with Glasberg Properties, a developer who’s linked to student housing near Temple University, which “looks like the standard no-frills new construction you see around town,” according to Naked Philly.

NewTavernBy the way, speaking of the 200 block of 45th Street, some of you may have noticed that the Watusi II was undergoing some renovation. The restaurant has a new owner – Ethiopian American Temsgen Wolegzi. He purchased the property in July and reportedly has plans for a more formal restaurant to go along with the bar. Wolegzi presented plans for the restaurant, which has been renamed New Tavern (pictured left), to neighbors and the Spruce Hill Community Association over the summer, even presenting a proposed menu.

The city shut down the bar, which then was under different ownership, for several weeks last fall for failure to pay back taxes.

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Owners of 4224 Baltimore will take their chances with zoning board

Posted on 22 October 2014

4224proposedbuildingThe firm overseeing development of a prime piece of real estate at 4224 Baltimore Ave. – across from Clark Park – has announced that it will take its chances with the zoning process and will go ahead with plans to build a 132-unit residential complex.

“[U3 Advisors] will comply with every regulation of the zoning variance process and we look forward to meeting with area RCOs, community groups and interested neighbors,” said Tom Lussenhop, the firm’s senior vice president.

Lussenhop said the firm will file an application with the Zoning Board of Adjustment soon.

There was some doubt that the firm would go ahead with its plans after news surfaced that appeals to City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell for an ordinance that would allow them to sidestep the sometimes tumultuous zoning process were rejected. The parcel’s owner, Clarkmore LLC, already has permission to build a small residential building that would have no commercial amenities and very limited parking. But the plans for the 132-unit building, which grew out of a series of community meetings, include underground parking and commercial space. That plan requires zoning changes for the parcel.

A series of public hearings will be scheduled once the zoning change request is filed, including a community meeting with the Spruce Hill Community Association planning committee.

“Spruce Hill will follow its traditional process of dealing with this zoning application once a filing has been processed,” said the planning committee’s head Barry Grossbach.

(See all our posts on 4224 Baltimore here).

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Work on new police headquarters begins at 46th and Market

Posted on 21 October 2014


Work on the new police headquarters at 46th and Market has officially begun, with a groundbreaking ceremony taking place on Monday.

The 87-year-old Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building, will undergo renovation and will host the Philadelphia Police Department headquarters, which will move from their current Center City location at 8th and Race. The building will also be home to the medical examiner’s office, morgue and the Department of Health public laboratories.

“[It] will be known as the Philadelphia Public Safety Services campus,” mayor Michael Nutter said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The building renovation will cost about $250 million. Two bills were introduced earlier this year by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell that allowed the city to borrow this sum. The building is expected to open in 2018.

The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building was included in the endangered properties list by the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia in 2010. After Provident left the building in 1983 it was occupied by various non-profits for many years, but has been vacant for the past six years.

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18-year-old arrested after home invasions on S. 47th, S. 48th Streets

Posted on 21 October 2014

Police arrested an 18-year-old man early this morning following two confrontational home invasions on the 400 block of S. 47th St. and the 500 block of S. 48th.

Police say a woman awoke at a home on the 400 block of S. 47th at about 3 a.m. after she heard someone walking in the hallway. She told police that a young male, who broke in through the front door, entered her bedroom and demanded money. The man fled the home with the victim’s iPhone. She was able to track the phone to an area near 48th and Larchwood using a phone tracking app, according to a police report.

About 20 minutes later a man on the 500 block of S. 48th Street awoke to a young man slapping him in the face, demanding money and threatening to shoot him. The victim and suspect went down to the first floor of the home where the victim took out his phone and attempted to call police, according to the police report. The suspect grabbed his phone and broke it. The victim then grabbed his work phone and tried to call, but the suspect broke that phone as well. The victim gave the suspect cash and the suspect ordered him to return to the second floor. When the victim refused the suspect began swinging a ladder at him before fleeing the home. The victim sustained minor injuries in this confrontation, police said.

Police apprehended the man near the home. They said that no weapon was found when the suspect was caught.

Police have not released the name of the young man, who lives on the 4800 block of Walton St. They say he may be involved in a recent string of armed robberies in the area as well.

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A string of robberies with sawed-off gun in Cedar Park area over the weekend

Posted on 20 October 2014

crimePolice have issued a crime alert in the Cedar Park area following a string of robberies and attempted robberies over the weekend. In all three cases reported below, a sawed off shotgun or imitation of a gun was used.

The first incident happened on the 800 block of S. 48th Street, around 11:20 p.m. on Saturday, when a 28-year-old man was approached on the street by a young male, who pointed a sawed off shotgun at the victim and demanded money. The victim told police that he did not believe the gun was real and started screaming, according to a police report. The attacker didn’t take anything and fled on foot toward Baltimore Avenue.

The other two incidents took place on Sunday. A 26-year-old man was robbed and pistol-whipped near 47th and Hazel around 8:15 p.m. by two males, one of whom pressed a sawed off firearm into the victim’s chest, according to police. The males took the victim’s iPhone and wallet. The man was also hit in the head with the firearm after he said he didn’t have anything else and sustained a cut to his ear.  Continue Reading

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New artist residency program on Lancaster Ave looking for artists

Posted on 20 October 2014


Neighborhood Time Exchange focuses on the area around Lancaster Ave. (Map image via

Here’s a new program in West Philly that supports emerging artists! Neighborhood Time Exchange: West Philadelphia Artist Residency was recently launched at 4017 Lancaster Avenue thanks to collaboration of three organizations – Broken City Lab, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and the People’s Emergency Center. The program will provide studio space to up to 12 artists (six of the spots are reserved for local artists) where they can work on their personal projects. In exchange, the resident artists are expected to give back to the community: for every hour they spend working in the studio they are expected to spend an hour on community-centered work and service. The goal of the program, according to its organizers, is to lay the ground for civic and economic renewal of the area, to be a platform for social change.

If you’re an emerging artist in Philadelphia and need help spearheading your career and if you’re interested in this program, read on.

Currently, Neighborhood Time Exchange is seeking artists for their inaugural round of residencies, which begins in January 2015. Artists residing in the neighborhoods around Lancaster Avenue, such as Mantua, Belmont, West Powelton, Saunders Park and Mill Creek, are encouraged to apply. Application deadline is Friday, Oct. 24. To download an application form and for more information, visit the Neighborhood Time Exchange website. If you have questions, email:

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu (Oct 20-24)

Posted on 19 October 2014

We continue publishing breakfast and lunch menus served at schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Here’s the menu for Monday, Oct 20 through Friday, Oct 24. If your school uses a Satellite menu, click here. Come back every Sunday evening for the coming week’s menu.


A variety of three cereals will be offered daily and served with a yogurt parfait or a bake-crafter bar.


Mini Pancakes
Bake Crafter Cereal Bar & Yogurt
Choose 1: Pineapple Juice or Fresh Pear
Variety of Milk


Steak, Egg & Cheese on a Bagel
Benefit Bar
Choose 1: Mixed Fruit Cup or Fresh Orange
Variety of Milk Continue Reading

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Still; like a gargoyle

Posted on 18 October 2014

We found this plump little one guarding a porch on the 4500 block of Osage on Saturday.

We found this plump little one guarding a porch on the 4500 block of Osage on Saturday (Photo by West Philly Local).

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Books Through Bars hosting workshop, speakers, fundraiser on incarceration issues

Posted on 17 October 2014

Books-Through-Bars-LogoAn important discussion about incarceration has gained traction nationally in recent years and an important facilitator in that discussion locally is the organization Books Though Bars.

The group’s primary mission is to obtain, pack and ship books to inmates in the region, a volunteer-heavy activity they have been doing in West Philly for more than 20 years. There is a chance this Saturday to be part of this ongoing conversation, meet people from Books Through Bars and other organizations engaged in incarceration issues and raise a little money to keep their work going.

Books Through Bars is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow (Oct 18) at the LAVA Space at 4134 Lancaster Ave, beginning at 2 p.m. The event will feature free workshops and speakers (2 to 6 p.m.) from the following organizations: Decarcerate PA, Hearts on a Wire, The Center for Returning Citizens, HRC, Books Through Bars Address This!, and DreamActivist PA. After that there will be a rockers show (6-10 p.m.) hosted by MMGZ.

Please bring $5-8 to donate at the event. Also, Books Through Bars’ Business, Science and Math shelves are pretty empty right now, so if you have any books that you don’t need please bring them to tomorrow’s event or to the A-Space where the organization is located (4722 Baltimore Ave).

For more information, check out the Books Through Bars Facebook page.


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St. Francis de Sales students featured in Philadelphia Film Festival Premiere

Posted on 17 October 2014


Violinist Zebadiah plays with The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and now attends Central High School.

This weekend, the annual Philadelphia Film Festival kicks off and we learned that students attending a local parochial school will be featured in one of the festival premieres.

Ilene Miller of Play On, Philly!, a tuition-free after school music program that has been operating for a few years at the St. Francis de Sales School near 47th and Springfield, sent us some more details about the film and the West Philly kids featured in it:

Play On, Philly! (POP), the innovative tuition-free after school music program in communities with little access to music education, was founded in 2011 at St. Francis de Sales School. The program, as well as two students, will be featured in the premiere of Crescendo! The Power of Music, at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 20 and 25 (see a trailer here).

Filmmakers Jamie Bernstein (daughter of famed conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein) and Elizabeth Kling have been following Play On, Philly! at St. Francis de Sales since day one for their documentary about kids participating in two youth orchestra programs – POP and the Harmony Program in Harlem.


Raven started POP in 4th grade and now plays with Musicopia String Orchestra and Philadelphia Sinfonia. She wants to be a professional violinist.

You will be truly moved at the experiences of students Raven and Zebadiah – their struggles, heartbreak and joy – as they discover themselves through the mysterious power of music in the Play On, Philly! program.

Raven is a violin natural with a rambunctious spirit. Quiet, quirky Zebadiah overcomes his shyness and gains confidence through the viola.

Zebadiah is now in 11h grade at Central High School. He returns to St. Francis every week to mentor younger students as a POP Ambassador… Raven, now in 9th grade at String Theory Charter School, studies with a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra, plays in Philadelphia Sinfonia and Musicopia String Orchestra, and wants to be a professional violinist.”

Crescendo! The Power of Music will be shown on October 20 at 3:00 p.m. at The Ritz Bourse Theater and again on October 25 at 3:15 p.m. at The Prince Music Theater (including a performance by POP students and a discussion with Jamie Bernstein).

For tickets visit or call 267-607-3385.

(Photos by Steven Krull/Play On, Philly!)

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Open bar, buffet, fortune tellers: Help support Curio Theatre at ‘The Carnival Macabre’

Posted on 16 October 2014

4027323West Philly’s own professional theatre company, Curio Theatre, is throwing a party this Saturday to celebrate its 10th anniversary and raise money to help keep this important community resource going strong.

This year’s benefit, titled “The Carnival Macabre,” kicks off at 7 p.m. at the St. Francis DeSales Ballroom (917 S. 47th St.) and will include games of chance, fortune tellers, silent and live auctions and dancing. The Gold Standard Café will provide a buffet and there will be an open beer and wine bar along with a signature cocktail. Second Vision will supply the music.

Tickets are $50 and are available online here.

Speaking of Curio, the company recently announced the debut performance of the 2014-15 season: The Matter of Frank Schaefer, which will open Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. The performance takes on the story of the Methodist minister from Lebanon, Penna. who was defrocked after officiating at his son’s gay wedding.

“What grabbed us right away with the story of Frank Schaefer is that it felt like a civil rights movement was starting right in front of us,” said Curio Artistic Director Paul Kuhn.

That’s just a taste. We’ll have more information on The Matter of Frank Schaefer before the premiere. In the meantime, please do what you can to help support the amazing work at Curio.

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2014 Spruce Hill Halloween Parade and Party confirmed

Posted on 16 October 2014

halloween 1

We hope that our little neighbors and their families are getting their costumes ready because this year’s Spruce Hill Halloween costume parade for tots will be held on Friday, Oct. 31, the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) announced earlier this week. The parade will start at 4:30 p.m. from the assembly area at 45th and Baltimore (next to Milk and Honey). The assembly will begin at 4 p.m.

West PhillyThe parade will follow the usual route down Larchwood to 43rd Street and over to the scarily decorated 4200 block of Osage (“Little Osage”), where the everyone will be welcomed with cider and treats.

SHCA, who is the sponsor of the parade, is asking that all tots be accompanied by an adult and that everyone be extra careful crossing streets to get to the parade and especially afterward, as darkness falls.

SHCA also invites little neighbors to stop by their center at 257 S 45th Street during trick-or-treating. “SHCA board member and Mel-Lo Townwatch leader Jackie Waiters will continue the long standing tradition of delighting trick-or-treaters with hand assembled goodie bags,” their announcement reads.

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No more curbside bagged leaf collection; other changes in this year’s Philly Leaf Recycling program

Posted on 16 October 2014

leavesThe Streets Department’s 2014 Philly Leaf and Recycling Program will kick off on November 10 and will run through December 19. During the six-week program, leaves will be collected for composting purposes, such as fertilizing gardens and nourishing trees.

There will be changes in the way leaves are collected for recycling this year, according to a recent announcement by the Streets Department. Bagged leaves will no longer be collected curbside. Instead, residents can drop them off at specially designated locations throughout the city. Here are the bagged leaf collection locations in West and Southwest Philadelphia area (open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays from Nov. 10 through Dec. 19):

• 66th & Haverford Avenue
• 54th & Woodbine Avenue
• 43rd & Powelton Avenue
• 72nd & Buist Avenue

Bagged leaves may also be taken to any of the four Sanitation Convenience Centers (visit the Streets Department website for more information).

Another requirement for recycling is that bagged leaves will only be accepted in biodegradable paper bags because they can be processed for recycling along with the leaves. The Streets Department doesn’t provide biodegradable bags, but you can purchase them at your local home improvement or hardware store.  Continue Reading

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Cranes explained: UCD releases new ‘State of University City’ report

Posted on 16 October 2014

StateofUCThese days it seems like you can’t walk more than a block or two near Penn and Drexel’s campuses without seeing some sort of major construction project. Cranes are becoming about as common around here as coffee shops.

Some 32 building projects have been or will be completed in the area around the universities between last fall and next summer or so, according to the 2014/2015 State of University City report, which was released by the University City District (UCD) yesterday afternoon during a reception at World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.). These include about 1.3 million square feet of new building space dedicated to medical and biomedical research, a key field driving development of this part of the city.

The majority of all new office construction in the city is happening in the patch between 38th street to the west, Market street to the north and the Schuylkill River to the east and south.

All of this building and investment has created what doctor-turned-entrepreneur Keith Leaphart, a lifelong Philadelphia resident, called an “ecosystem for ambition” during yesterday’s reception. Leaphart owns the design and print firm Replica Creative, which opened a café amid all the hubbub last year at 3711 Market St.

Residential space is increasing as well. Two new residential high rises, at 36th and Market and 3737 Chestnut, are slated to open next summer and fall respectively. The UCD is forecasting that the number of new apartments will increase 60 percent by 2016. Many of these are aimed at graduate students and millennials, the fastest growing demographic category in the district.  Continue Reading

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WPL’s 2014 Pumpkin Carving Contest starts today

Posted on 15 October 2014

pumpkin_entry_2011-1Dear West Philly Local readers, we’re happy to announce our 4th Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest. We hope that more people will participate this year because we’ll have some awesome prizes from local businesses, plus there will be random drawings for prizes. Are you ready? Here are the rules:

The contest runs from October 15 through October 31, 2014. All ages are welcome to participate.

Submit a snapshot of your pumpkin by email ( that includes your name, address (West Philly residents only please), and age (if you are entering the Kids category). Entries from kids 12 and under will also be entered into the Kids category. Be sure to get a good photo that shows off your pumpkin’s best features. If you’re an Instagram user, please upload your photo there with the hashtag #westphillylocal.

Winners will be selected in the following categories:

Kids (12 and under)
Best Philly-Themed
Readers’ Choice (grand prize)

There will also be a random drawing for those pumpkins that didn’t win in any of the above categories, so everyone has a shot at an awesome prize.

The entry deadline is 6 p.m. on Friday October 31.

Voting for the Readers’ Choice will run on October 31 – November 2. Note: One entry per person.The winners will be announced on November 3.

If you need ideas check out the pumpkins entered in our previous contests here.

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