Archive | May, 2016

Youma: From economist, to server, to manager, to owner

May 31, 2016

When I walked into Youma (Facebook page), a new African restaurant at 4519 Baltimore Ave., I was glad to finally get to spend some time with owner Youma Ba. When I met with her, she was covering for a server who was out sick. It was somewhat of a homecoming for Youma, since this very location was where she got her start as a server in Philly back in 2001, when it was known as La Calebasse. She left there to open Kilimanjaro on Walnut St.


Youma Ba

She was recruited by La Calebasse to work in their New York City location and was invited to West Philadelphia when the owners expanded into the area. “I’ve been a server, I’ve been a cook, I’ve been a manager,” she recalled. A veteran of the industry, she decided she was ready to open up a new restaurant when she saw the vacant storefront.

Youma Ba never intended to work with food. Her mother, Vice Mayor of Dakar, wanted her to be an economist so she got an economics degree from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. Her mother also taught Youma to cook for her large family twice a day. As one of 12 children, Youma gained the skills that helped her open her first restaurant.  Continue Reading

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Large tree falls on car near 48th and Larchwood

May 30, 2016


A large tree fell down this morning on the 4700 block of Larchwood Avenue and heavily damaged a parked car. No injuries have been reported. The block was closed to traffic as of 9 a.m. on Monday. (Photos by Michael Froehlich).



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Live jazz returns to West Philly parks (updated)

May 27, 2016

Summer brings many cool events to West Philly neighborhoods, including street festivals, outdoor music, art and movies, farmers’ and flea markets, and food-centered events, so we’ll be posting this information as it becomes available. Today’s post is dedicated to a popular summer event in the area – jazz in local parks.

cedarparkjazzWe’re happy to report that two West Philly parks, Cedar Park and Malcolm X Park, will once again be hosting jazz nights featuring well-known local musicians and guests throughout the summer.

Friday Night Jazz in Cedar Park (49th and Baltimore) will kick off on Friday, June 3, with a performance by Bernard Samuels Trio. Performances will be held every Friday, 6 – 8 p.m.. Here’s the lineup through July 29 (additional performances may be announced later):

June 3 – Bernard Samuels Trio
June 10 – Progressive Movement
June 17 – Gretchen Elise & Friends
June 24 – Jazz Lab Project
July 1 – Rich Tucker & Friends
July 8 – Dendê Mercado/Brazilian artist
July 15 – Bobby Zankel & The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound IV
July 22 – Clef Club Youth Ensemble
July 29 – Philadelphia Clef Club/ Tribute to Donald “Chappy” Washington Band & Friends

Cedar Park Jazz is hosted by Cedar Park Neighbors and is made possible thanks to donations from local organizations, businesses and individuals. If you would like to support this event and help bring more performances to the park, click here.

West Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Series are held at Malcolm X Park (52nd and Pine) every other Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. The series is hosted by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Friends of Malcolm X Park. Here’s the lineup through Sept. 15:

June 9 – The Jazz Lab Project
June 23 – Vocalist: The Barbara Walker Story
July 7 – Bassist: Bill Booker & Trio
July 21 – Vocalist: Shirley Lites
Aug. 4 – Budesa Brothers
Aug. 18 – Perfect Solution
Sept. 1 – Napoleon Redeemer & The 61st St Band
Sept. 15 – Angel Baby Music  Continue Reading

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West Philly teen competes in National Spelling Bee

May 26, 2016


A West Philadelphia 7th grader, Saif Siddiquee, participated in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee, being held this week in Washington, DC. 13-year-old Saif is a Penn Alexander School student. On Wednesday, Saif competed in the Preliminary Rounds 2 and 3 (onstage oral spelling) and spelled correctly both words (“crudités” and “recrudescence”) presented to him by the Bee’s official pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly.

Only 45 kids out of the 285 who entered in this year’s competition made it to the Finals, and, unfortunately, Saif wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, we congratulate Saif on his great performance and for representing his school and Philadelphia in this prestigious contest.

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Clarkville covered in graffiti… again

May 26, 2016

Vandals have struck again at Clarkville at 43rd and Baltimore, painting walls and windows and writing “Gentrifiers Go Home” on an outside wall. The restaurant was tagged shortly after its opening in December 2015 in the former Best House Pizza location.

Co-owner Brendan Hartranft scraped paint from Clarkville’s windows on Thursday morning.

“I wish they knew what we were about,” Hartranft, a native Philadelphian, said of the vandals.





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Zoning meeting Thursday on proposed changes to single-family home at 4606 Spruce St.

May 25, 2016


Single-family home at 4606 Spruce St.

A four-story single-family old Victorian house on the 4600 block of Spruce Street has new owners, who are proposing to convert it to a multi-unit property. The Garden Court Community Association’s zoning committee is hosting a community meeting on Thursday, May 26, at the property in question – 4606 Spruce Street.

The owners have proposed to convert the building to include: a professional office on the first-floor front; single-family apartment in the first-floor rear; and three units on the second through fourth floors. The 3,360-square-foot 6-bedroom house was built in 1909.

Many community organizations in the area have been reluctant to support proposals to convert single-family homes into multi-family buildings.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m., and attendees are asked to bring folding chairs, as seating will be limited.

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