Food & Drink

Greensgrow West to open Thursday, April 3

Posted on 26 March 2014

Community members are invited to check out the newest location of the urban farming hub Greensgrow Farms beginning Thursday, April 3. The opening party will be on Saturday, April 5!

Last month, we wrote about Greensgrow Farms’ plans to open a West Philly location at 4912 Baltimore Avenue, the former home of Elena’s Soul Bar & Lounge destroyed by fire in December 2012.

Greensgrow West will include a garden center featuring veggie starts, soils, tools, annuals and perennials, fruit trees, and expert help. The new location will also have a seasonal farmstand and CSA pick-up every Friday. Finally, Greensgrow West is planning to offer educational workshops for the community.

Greensgrow West hours, starting April 3, will be:

Garden Center: Thursday-Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
CSA Pick-up & Farmstand: Fridays 3:00-6:00 p.m.

For more information, visit or

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Spring programming at The Porch at 30th to begin in April

Posted on 20 March 2014


Photo courtesy University City District.

The spring has officially begun today and the University City District has announced an exciting spring program for The Porch, a cool public space near 30th Street Station. The spring programming will begin April 1 and will include a variety of FREE events and activities, featuring music, food, fitness, and fun. Here are some more details on what to expect at The Porch next month.


Gourmet Food Trucks - Mon, Wed, Fri (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.); Tue & Thu  (7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.)


WXPN Local Wednesdays
Noon on the first Wednesday of the month
Live music from Philly’s rising stars.

Ginger Coyle: April 2

You hear Ginger Coyle’s vintage vocals grace your ears, you undoubtedly feel as if you’ve encountered an old soul. The South Jersey singer-songwriter-pianist-guitarist first caught XPN’s attention with the bluesy “Silver Lining” from her 2012 EP Homeward Bound and is currently working on her full length to be released in 2014.

Lunchtime Accordion Serenade

Tuesdays, Noon – 1 p.m.

Enjoy live accordion music while you relax and have lunch or take a break from the daily grind.


Put your lunch break to work for you with fitness programming from BodyRock Boot Camp.

Thursdays, 6 p.m.

Zumba: April 3 & 24

Bokwa: April 10

Bootcamp: April 17  Continue Reading

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Earth Cup becomes Coffee Market, widens selection of beans and equipment

Posted on 04 March 2014


Earth Cup is now Coffee Market. (Photo courtesy of Natasa Borcanin) 


Some of our readers have probably noticed a new sign, “Coffee Market,” outside of the Earth Cup coffee shop on 45th Street between Pine and Osage. Here’s what’s happening, according to the owner Natasa Borcanin.

The business has changed its name (but not its ownership) to better reflect its expansion of coffee choices, brewing methods, and coffee equipment selection. Coffee Market will offer a larger variety of coffee bean selection (new roasters, new single origins and blends, and more brewing methods) and coffee equipment (coffee presses, pour-overs, thermoses, and more). The shop will also showcase new selections of coffee through coffee tastings.

“This is a welcome change as this city lacks a one-stop shop for a wide variety of organic and fair-trade coffee choices,” Borcanin writes in an e-mail. “There is just about nothing more personal that people consume in a day than a cup of coffee. Therefore, having a variety is paramount.”

By the way, the old “Sam’s Place” sign will also stay, for nostalgic reasons. “This shop has been here for 30 plus years and has a long-standing tradition of its second and third generation customers that appreciate seeing the sign as they revisit,” writes Borcanin.

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Review: Shaban Kabab & Curry

Posted on 28 February 2014


The lamb biryani (Photo by Annamarya Scaccia / West Philly Local)

When I first reported on the opening of Shaban Kabab & Curry (4145 Chestnut Street), I was excited by the prospect of having a new South Asian restaurant in the area. After all, as someone who enjoys cuisine from the region, I was looking forward to tasting Pakistani food—Shaban’s specialty—for the first time.

So on Monday night, I made my way through the blistering cold to the corner of 42nd and Chestnut Streets, where Shaban Kabab & Curry set up shop. Once inside, owner Mohammad Sajad greeted me with a warm cup of ginger and milk as we sat at the window bar. The dining area is small, but cozy, made up of polished aluminum furniture, grey and bright green walls, and a wood panel wall fixture that immediately pulls your focus. While Shaban’s cuisine may be traditional, there’s definitely nothing traditional about the design of the restaurant.

Sajad and I make small talk while I wait for the dishes he’s prepared for me to taste. Since opening, he tells me, Shaban has been really busy, with Thursdays through Sundays being the busiest days. (The restaurant was empty on Monday evening save for one customer, although online orders seemed to have been racking up.) And the feedback he’s received has been mostly positive—”People just love [the food],” he says.  Continue Reading

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Greensgrow comes to Elena’s Soul’s former home

Posted on 13 February 2014

Elena's soul

Algernong Allen standing in the remains of the Elena’s Soul building. (Archived photo/ courtesy of Algernong Allen)

Sad news for readers waiting on Elena’s Soul’s return: it seems the neo-jazz joint, which was destroyed by a fire in 2012, won’t make a second appearance on the lot of its former home at 4912 Baltimore Avenue—well, at least not for another two years.

That might not be such bad news for green thumbs, though. On Tuesday, Elena’s Soul owner Algernong Allen signed a contract with Greensgrow Farms after two months of talks to bring the urban farming hub to West Philly. As part of the deal, Greensgrow will lease Allen’s lot for two years, operating a multi-tiered site that the Kensington-based farm plans to open April 3. And during those two years, Allen told West Philly Local, he will consider the “feasibility of reconstruction” and redevelopment of the site.

“Realizing the void that Elena’s left both physically and culturally in the neighborhood, I wanted to do something that would be beneficial for a community that has been so kind to my family and I,” Allen, who’s currently running for state representative, told West Philly Local. “The Greensgrow deal not only provides a valuable resource to the urban greening community, but will also add more pedestrian traffic to Baltimore Avenue, attractiveness to the block, and even a few jobs for our local economy.”  Continue Reading

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Police headquarters, burglaries, rally against shooting deaths: West Philly news roundup (updated)

Posted on 10 February 2014

Here’s a summary of news coming out of our neck of the woods in the past few days and a reminder on a couple of community events this week. Editor’s Note: The meeting on the potential sale of the University City High School has been postponed until Wednesday, Feb. 26.


Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building. (Archived photo/West Philly Local).

• Another hurdle has been cleared for the plan to move the police headquarters into the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building at 46th and Market Streets. Last Thursday, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced two bills that would allow the city to borrow up to $250 million for the project, according to a report by Philadelphia Inquirer. The 87-year-old building has been vacant since 1983, when Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. moved out, and has been put on the endangered properties list by the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia.

• A rally was held on Saturday, Feb. 8 to protest recent purse snatching and shootings in Philadelphia. The rally was held at 53rd and Market Streets, the site of the most recent purse snatching, when a 29-year-old woman was shot to death and her companion, a 34-year-old woman, was wounded. Dozens of people attended the event, organized by Handbags 4 Piece, and many people spoke out, including the mothers of the victims (check out the Handbags 4 Piece Facebook page for photos and videos).

Ground was broken last week at the site of the new high-rise apartment building at 36th and Market Streets. The 28-story 364-unit mixed-use structure is a joint project of the University City Science Center and Southern Land Co., of Nashville. The project, which will also include 14,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space and parking for 200 cars and 140 bicycles, is expected to be completed in spring 2015.

• Residential burglaries are still a cause for concern in University City, according to the latest crime update released by the University City District. Over 20 burglaries took place in the area in January, which is a double of the number of burglaries in December. Three burglary-related arrests have been made. UCD also reports that there were about a dozen robberies in the area, four of them at gunpoint, with arrests made in nine of these cases. August and September were peak months for robberies in the area, with over 30 incidents reported.

• Great news for fried chicken and gourmet donuts fans: Philly’s super popular chain Federal Donuts is close to opening their location in University City. The awnings to their new shop at 3428 Sansom were recently complete:

Another tweet by Federal Donuts said that the new location is opening “very soon” but the date hasn’t been announced yet. We’ll keep you posted.

• Two meetings on the sale of vacant schools and other School District of Philadelphia properties in West Philadelphia will take place this week: on Tuesday, Feb. 11 you can learn more about the future of Shaw Middle School (54th & Warrington) and on Wednesday, Feb. 11 (postponed until Feb. 26) there will be a meeting on the potential sale of the University City High School, Drew Elementary School and Walnut Center buildings. Click here for more information. If you missed our story on the Wilson School building’s future, click here.

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