Archive | December, 2013

The Blockley to close after losing liquor license, leaving future of historic music venue unclear

December 13, 2013

Blockleyvenue-e1321828354330The Blockley, a popular music venue located at 38th and Ludlow, will close its doors at the end of this month, its owners revealed on Facebook last night. The venue, which has had brushes with the law over serving underage patrons, lost its liquor license “without much notice,” the post read. The license has to be moved out of the building by the end of the year.

The last performances at the venue are currently scheduled for December 27 and 28 and all 2014 performances have been canceled, according to the Facebook post. The Blockley staff also told Philadelphia Magazine that they’re working on a big farewell concert.

The venue opened in 2009 and has hosted numerous music performances since. The place was particularly popular among college students and was shut down temporarily for allegedly serving minors.

The Blockley’s location, which includes an intimate stage and dance floor, has long been a staple of live music in Philadelphia. When it was the Chestnut Cabaret, the venue was a frequent stop for up-and-coming acts in the 80s and 90s, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Pogues, Phish, Sonic Youth, The Roches, Soul Asylum, The Meat Puppets; local acts such as Schoolly D and the Dead Milkmen; and established favorites like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Parliament and Blue Oyster Cult.

It is still unclear what will happen to the property after The Blockley leaves.

(Photo via

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A gift shop to replace Rebels Closet at 45th and Baltimore

December 13, 2013


Photo by Annamarya Scaccia / West Philly Local

When West Philly Local profiled Rebels Closet in May, it seemed as if the excitement around the project was contagious. The street wear—meets—counterculture clothing store that took over True Planet Vintage Boutique’s former home at 4501 Baltimore Ave was going to breathe fresh air into the neighborhood—and tap into the West Philly underground not only through major brands like Mighty Healthy and G.E.E.K (Good Energy = Quals Kreation) Clothing Inc., but through in-store events like spoken word nights and a rolling art gallery.

Over the few months since its soft opening, though, Rebels Closet’s doors were rarely open during its stated operating hours, and—at least twice from what we observed—the store was completely emptied of any product or display, only to return a few days later. There was some hope that maybe it was just growing pains, as all businesses have their ebbs and flows, but that hope was soon dashed. As of about two weeks ago, Rebels Closet has been added to 4501 Baltimore Avenue’s “Previous Tenants” list. Around that time, a large group of people began gutting the corner store, carrying mounds and mounds of trash bags out of its doors. Drapes and brown paper material now cover its windows—a “Coming Soon” sign alerting that Zed’s Last Minute Gift Shop will make 45th Street and Baltimore Avenue its new home.

West Philly Local reached out to Takiya Lipscomb, manager of Rebels Closet, to find out what had happened to the clothing store, but she has yet to return our request for comment. As for Zed’s, we’ll update you with more information once we get in touch with the owners.

Annamarya Scaccia

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West Philly Events Roundup (December 13-15) (updated)

December 13, 2013

Editor’s Note: Go West! Craft Fest is this Sunday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at The Rotunda and not Saturday as it was originally reported in this post. Also, we have received a note from Play On, Philly! that their holiday concert has been postponed until after the New Year. We will keep you posted on a new date.

There are a lot of things happening in West Philly this weekend and we hope that the cold weather won’t deter you from checking out local holiday shopping events, music, films, theater, Christmas caroling, and other fun stuff. Our Events Roundup is below. For more events or if you want to submit an event, go to our Events Calendar. Also, don’t forget about ongoing events, like Holiday Craft Show and Sale at UC Arts League, and other holiday shopping and giving opportunities. If you need a Christmas tree, check out this post.

Friday, December 13

All dayThe Gold Standard Cafe (48th & Baltimore) is donating one third of their total proceeds to Kingsessing library. Your donation will go to serve the library’s reading and educational needs.

CedarWorks5-10 pm – Neighbors are invited to get together to celebrate the season at The Cedar Works‘ first Holiday Party and Sale. 14 artists who call The Cedar Works home will be selling their works for holiday gifting.

5-10 pm – This Friday is a special holiday Second Friday on Lancaster Avenue, with festivities spanning from 34th Street all the way up to 41st. Enjoy great music, fine food, and good vibes.

8 pm – Gender Comedy: A Less Stupid Twelfth Night Gay Fantasia opens at Curio Theatre (48th & Baltimore).

Saturday, December 14

NightmareBeforeChristmas2 pm – International House Philadelphia (37th & Chestnut) invites families for its Family Matinee program, featuring a special holiday screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film is a Halloween-Christmas hybrid and audience favorite. Tickets are $5; free for IHP members.

gift-basket-final2-5 pm – Neighbors are invited to build their own gift baskets at Milk & Honey Market (45th & Baltimore). Create unique and inspired gift baskets filled with local products and thoughtfully selected books and goods and also enjoy free hot cocoa!

Dr. John Bull concert3 pm – University Lutheran Church (3637 Chestnut St) presents harpsichordist Marcia Kravis with her solo program, Dr. John Bull and Company: Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Mummy3:30 pm – Stop by Penn Museum (3260 South St) for “Unwrapping the Mummy: Hollywood Fantasies, Egyptian Realities,” a presentation by Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, Chair of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Smith explores some modern myths about mummies, and the fascinating insights that can be gained from studying the “equipment” buried with mummies for the afterlife.

Sunday, December 15

lilpopshop1All day – Enjoy delicious organic and locally made popsicles at Lil’ Pop Shop before it closes until February 1, 2014.

GWCFDec2013-300uw11 am – 5 pm – The winter edition of Go West! Craft Fest is finally here. VIX Emporium boutique and As the Crow Flies & Co. online are teaming up to bring over 40 vendors – local artists, craftspeople and designers – to The Rotunda (40th & Walnut). While shopping, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy frozen treats from Weckerly’s Ice Cream and vegetarian-friendly fare from Black Orchid Foods.

5 pm The Friends of Clark Park invite you to come raise your voice with your neighbors in singing traditional Christmas carols around the Community Christmas tree (Clark Park “B”, near 45th & Regent). Refreshments will be served afterwards. This one always seems to work out much better after an Eagles win, so go Birds. For more info call 215-222-2255.

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Family of 7-year-old drowning victim, Ja’Briel O’Connor, sues city

December 13, 2013

The family of the 7-year-old West Philly boy who drowned this summer in a municipal pool is suing the City of Philadelphia and Families Forward Philadelphia, the agency in charge of the boy during a field trip to the pool.

Ja’Briel O’Connor died two days after he was pulled from the swimming pool at the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center (210 S. 63rd St.) on July 18. Lifeguards performed CPR on the boy and he was taken to Children’s Hospital. Ja’Briel lived with his family at a shelter for homeless families near the corner of Walnut and Melville streets run by Families Forward.

Four lifeguards were reportedly on duty at the pool when the drowning occurred, according to reports. Some 25 children were part of the summer camp group at the pool. Supervisors included four camp counselors and four lifeguards, according to reports.

The attorney for Ja’Briel’s family, Andrew Stern, told NBC Philadelphia that the boy’s death was a result of “clear inexcusable negligence.” The lawsuit, which was filed yesterday, also states that the family has attempted to settle the matter out of court, but to no avail. The suit also claims that the counselors were told before the trip to the school that Ja’briel could not swim.

Soon after his death, several neighbors rallied around Ja’Briel’s mother, Aisha Watson, and contributed money to offset funeral expenses and other costs.

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48th Street Grille opening delayed; more Culinary Center news

December 12, 2013

When West Philly Local last reported on the Center for Culinary Enterprises in May, two new restaurants options were slated to open late that summer—48th Street Grille and Planet Vegan. But the summer has come and gone, and neither restaurant has opened its doors in their respective spaces at 48th and Spruce Streets.

Photo by Annamarya Scaccia / West Philly Local.

This week, West Philly Local caught up with Bryan Fenstermaker, senior director of programming at The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC), to find out the reason for the radio silence. Turns out, financing delays pushed back the grand opening of 48th Street Grille, Fenstermaker told us. According to the TEC-CDC executive, Chef Carl Lewis has signed a 10-year lease for the Culinary Center’s retail space, where he will open his American-Caribbean restaurant this spring.

As for Planet Vegan, it’s no longer opening in the second space. Owner Dorinda Hampton told West Philly Local she wants to instead focus on further expanding her health food line, Really Fresh Vegan, which operates out of the Culinary Center, and grow the list of places that carry her products. “Once things get more stable, I will start looking for another location for Planet Vegan I’m really passionate about opening it up in the near future,” Hampton said.

Real Food Works To Go will, instead, open in Planet Vegan’s place, Fenstermaker said—although there is no word yet on its launch date. Real Food Works To Go is a pilot program developed through a partnership between TEC-CDC and Real Food Works­—a Philadelphia start-up providing subscription-based, home-delivered healthy meal plans—that will function as a health food store, as well as offer on-site food preparation, cooking demos, and nutritional education.

In addition to 48th Street Grille, TEC-CDC will open the Philly Restaurant Residency Incubator in the middle retail space at the Culinary Center. The new program, said Fenstermaker, will serve as a sort of pop-up shop for the food world—aspiring restaurateurs and chefs can test out their sit-down restaurant concepts in the 1,445 sq-ft fully-functioning space without “cashing in their life savings to do so.”

The restaurant incubator model received an economic boost recently from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services through its Economic Development Healthy Food Finance Initiative Award distributed by HHS’ Office of Community Services. The award, according to Fenstermaker, will be put towards construction and operation of incubator. In February, TEC-CDC will also release a business plan competition for the incubator.

“The restaurant incubator will allow new entrepreneurs to hone their craft while we work with them to line up financing,” Fenstermaker told West Philly Local. “The end result would be to place them on corridors in West Philly and other parts of the city with financing ready to go. It is a proof of concept model to assist small entrepreneurs.”

Annamarya Scaccia

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A year after evictions, punk venue “Fake House” demolished to make way for housing development

December 12, 2013


The remnants of the “Fake House” which was demolished last month to make room for a new apartment building. Photo: Mike Lyons/West Philly Local.


Last month, a graffiti-covered building at 3862 Lancaster Avenue was demolished to make way for a three-story, 22-unit apartment building to be developed by Turn Key Realty LLC, according to city records. The building sat vacant after its residents were evicted last December.

The building was formerly a venue and makeshift apartment for artists called the “Fake House.” It was first occupied by a group of artists in the late ‘80s, according to an article by Philadelphia Weekly, and had occupants and musical performances up until the evictions.

The building was known as Fake House because the word “Fake” was painted in large letters on the front of the building. Much of the graffiti on the building enforced its counter-culture reputation, as there were strong anti-gentrification and anti-corporate messages.

The occupants never signed a formal lease, and as one resident admitted to Philadelphia Weekly almost a decade ago, “We know we’re all this close to losing our space. Anything could change at any time.”

He was right, of course. But the fascinating and somewhat subversive alt/punk hub still got another decade under its belt. The final punk show took place just a week before the evictions.

Alex Vuocolo

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  • By special request hand built WestPhilly mugs by threetceramics Neighborhood
  • Busy punching and binding calendars for Saturdays AnniVIXary XI party
  • Thanks to Zach from blackhoundclay for making us these tiles!
  • smallbusinesssaturday sale at VIX and in the preciousmeshes etsy shop!

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