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Food & Drink

Culinary arm of the Enterprise Center provides support for Walnut Hill, Garden Court neighborhoods and beyond

Posted on 09 April 2015

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Photo by Annamarya Scaccia / West Philly Local.

48th Street below Spruce is becoming a sort of culinary hub with a number of small and start-up artisan food businesses calling the block and its Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises home.

The Enterprise Center, which supports local minority entrepreneurs, was already providing a helping hand for start-up businesses, but with the unique nature of the food industry and the lack of a kitchen facility at the initial site, there was a need to create a subsidiary. The Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises opened in 2012.

The businesses operating out of the Center or using its state-of-the-art shared-use commercial kitchen include:

48th Street Grille
Herban Quality Eats
Really Fresh Vegan
Red Fox Gourmet
Smackaroons
Sugar Philly
Taco Angeleno

“What we found was that there’s a particularly high threshold for food entry for food businesses in Philadelphia. It’s an expensive and complicated endeavor. An incubator kitchen lowers that threshold making it easier for food businesses to get their start in the city,” says Brett Heeger, Food System Director at The Enterprise Center.

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The Culinary Center’s shared-use commercial kitchen (Photo from theenterprisecenter.com)

Heeger broke the process down to three steps: business development, product refining and access to capital. The Enterprise Center has been known for bringing in influential guest speakers and advisors over the years, which have inspired culinary entrepreneurs and many first time business owners. The products are refined with the help of a panel of scientists from the Drexel Culinary food sciences along with extensively trained chefs, using commercial grade equipment that they would not have had access to otherwise. Finally, the businesses are given access to grants and seed funding which is exclusive to small businesses that are a part of the program.

The Culinary Center is located at 310 S. 48th Street in the Garden Court neighborhood. The Center has improved the neighborhood through several ways: There were physical improvements to the area, the site where the center is currently located was originally an abandoned supermarket. There has also been financial empowerment within the neighborhood, as the center also tried to hire candidates from West Philadelphia. The idea is to increase community engagement and involvement.

On Tuesday, May 19, the Culinary Center will host the 2nd annual “Cooking Up Success!” culinary competition among local food entrepreneurs. The winners will be awarded up to $50,000. Early bird tickets ($75) are available until April 17. To buy tickets, go here.

Rana Fayez

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Spring programming kicks off at The Porch

Posted on 01 April 2015

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Photo courtesy University City District.

Spring programming began today at The Porch, the popular public space adjacent to the 30th Street Station. Starting today, there will be more food trucks and lunchtime entertainment, including live music, dancing and Free at Noon concerts. Here’s what will be happening at The Porch this month.

Gourmet Food Trucks (11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.)

Mondays: Say Cheese, BrazBQ
Tuesdays: Farm Truck, Sum Pig
Wednesdays: Taco Mondo, Whirly Pig
Thursdays: Spot Burger, Mac Mart (April 2, 9, 23), Phoebe’s BBQ (April 16, 30)
Fridays: Pitruco Pizza, Mucho Bueno

Lunch Entertainment

Tuesdays (12 – 1 p.m.): Accordion player Dan Nosheny.
Wednesdays (12:30 – 1:30 p.m.): David Falcone, fingerstyle acoustic guitarist and vocalist fusing Celtic, traditional and classical sounds.
Thursdays (12 – 1 p.m.): April 2 – Hoop dancing; April 9 – Bujee Magoo, stilt walking performers.  Continue Reading

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Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, 40th St concert series and more popular events returning this summer

Posted on 26 March 2015

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Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll (Photo courtesy UCD)

Here’s some great news to drive your cold spring weather blues away. The University City District has announced the return of their signature events, including the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, University City Dining Days and 40th Street Summer Concert Series!

The Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, where dozens of neighborhood businesses present a variety of $1 items and deals, including food, beer, event tickets and vouchers, will return on Thursday, June 25. The second Dollar Stroll is scheduled for September 24. Dollar Strolls take place along Baltimore Avenue, between 43rd and 51st streets, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

In addition to the Dollar Stroll, another popular event is coming back this summer – the 40th Street Summer Series will be held the last Saturday of the month, from May to September, in the campus green space near 40th and Locust. We’ll post more information on the performances when it becomes available.

More than 30 of University City’s best restaurants will participate in the 11th annual University City Dining Days, which runs July 16 through the 28th. As usual, the deal includes three courses for three prices.

There is also a rumor that UCD will bring back its summer film series, which was a big hit back in the summer of ’13. We are still trying to nail down the details on that though. We’ll keep you posted.

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Corner Bakery Cafe opening Wednesday at 38th and Market

Posted on 23 March 2015

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Corner Bakery Cafe at 38th and Market Streets. (Facebook photo)

Pennsylvania-based franchisee The Rose Group is opening its second Corner Bakery Cafe location in Philadelphia this week. The fast-casual cafe that offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and bakery-quality desserts will open its doors at 3737 Market St. on Wednesday, March 25, at 6:30 a.m.

To celebrate the opening the first 100 guests will receive a free travel mug and daily coffee refills for one year. Also, a drawing will be held next week to award someone free grilled panini for one year.

The Rose Group currently owns and operates six Corner Bakery cafes in Eastern Pennsylvania and two in New Jersey.

The 38th and Market Corner Bakery Cafe location also has a Facebook page.

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Café Renata owners: “We will be back!”; fundraiser at The Bar(n)

Posted on 16 March 2015

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Cafe Renata owners, Yasser Aiq and Kate Steenstra, at the cafe (archive photo, West Philly Local).

As many of you know, an overnight fire destroyed Café Renata at 43rd and Locust and injured a neighbor last Thursday. Café Renata co-owners, Kate Steenstra and Yasser Aiq, are safe, but heartbroken over the fire and are still assessing the damage. A lot of support has poured in to them from the community members, which Katie and Yasser are very grateful for.

“Our neighbors and friends have been so supportive of us during all of this and we are so grateful for their encouragement and hugs. We are lucky to be part of such a loving community,” Katie wrote in an email.

While it is still unknown when the popular Spruce Hill coffee and brunch shop will reopen here’s some encouraging news from Katie:

“After taking a few days of reflection Yasser and I would like to tell our friends and customers that we are so encouraged by their support and love the past few days. Without them, Renata would never have been the vibrant café it was. We are looking forward to your continued support during our rebuilding efforts. We will be back!”

If you would like to support Katie and Yasser, visit Cafe Renata’s Facebook page and leave a message. We’re also sharing information about a fundraiser for Café Renata this Thursday, March 19, at The Bar(n) (49th and Catharine) in Cedar Park. The Barn and Wyndridge Farms are teaming up for the Café Renata Tap Takeover Fundraiser where Wyndridge Farms brew will be hooked up to all four of The Barn’s taps. Admission fee is $10 at the door, but guests will get their first brew for free. All drafts will be $3. All of the door and draft proceeds will go to the owners of Café Renata. The event will take place from 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. Check The Barn’s Facebook page for updates.

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Sign up has begun for Summer CSA programs

Posted on 12 March 2015

MS_CSA_Vegetable_1CFresh, locally grown fruits and veggies are just a couple of months away! Local summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs will resume in May and already started accepting applications. CSAs usually work as a seasonal subscription programs where subscribers purchase a share of the produce grown on a local farm.

Urban and rural farms, food entrepreneurs and restaurants are participating in this summer’s CSA programs by supplying locally grown or prepared items, including produce, dairy, meat, honey, baked goods, coffee, beer, and more! Here’s a list of assorted CSA programs, which offer share pick-up location in West Philadelphia. Please note that Greensgrow Farms is currently offering early bird CSA sign-up discounts.  Continue Reading

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