Food & Drink

Not So Little Anymore: Lil’ Pop Shop opens second location in West Philly

December 10, 2015


   Photo courtesy of Lil’ Pop Shop.

After over three years of operation at 44th and Spruce and gaining popularity throughout the area, Lil’ Pop Shop is ready to expand.

The new location, at 4608 Woodland Ave., will serve as a main production hub for the business and will include more offerings. “We’re outgrowing the kitchen on 44th,” says owner Jeanne Chang. “We will have a lot more equipment [at the new location].”

The new space is equipped with an oven for baked goods, including cakes and pies, confections, marshmallows, and different types of cookies. “This will greatly impact the products we can make; it will better serve the neighborhood,” Chang said.

Lil’ Pop Shop II will emulate the same model as the first, as it will be mainly for takeout with limited seating.

Chang relocated to Philadelphia in 2012, after her husband began working at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a West Philadelphia nonprofit that researches smell and taste. She decided to open the business on 44th and Locust in May 2012 and has been serving up original popsicle recipes ever since. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she uses her culinary background to craft flavors such as Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Early Grey with Black Pepper and Green Tea with Mochi for her customers.  Continue Reading

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Holiday Beer News: Dock Street back in the bottle, home brew shop opens near Woodland, Local 44 has gifts galore

December 4, 2015


Photo courtesy Dock Street Brewery.

For years my father talked about the case of beer I bought him for Christmas in 1990. This was still mostly yellow beer days and my Dad was a devoted yellow beer drinker. But this was a case of Dock Street Amber Ale, the beer that for many in Philly back then provided our first taste of a locally brewed craft beer.

Twenty five years later Dock Street is back in the bottled beer business, just in time for the holidays. Between them, the new home brew place on Woodland Avenue and Local 44, there are plenty of opportunities to buy local for the beer lover on your list or to transform yourself into a good and proper beer snob.

Dock Street is bottling its Rye IPA, a 50th and Baltimore favorite, and is available by the case (about $40) or the 6-pack ($10) now in a number of shops and restaurants.  Continue Reading

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Clarkville to open on Friday, Dec. 4

December 3, 2015


Clarkville growlers stand at the ready for Grand Opening Party. (Instagram photo)

Clarkville’s opening date has finally been announced, and it’s tomorrow! The Grand Opening Party for the new bar and restaurant located just across the street from Clark Park at 43rd and Baltimore, will take place on Friday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m., according to an announcement from the owners, Leigh Maida, Brendan Hartranft and Brendan Kelly.

The opening night will include “complimentary nibbles from the kitchen, a line up of flagship beers from favorite breweries, a killer draft wine list and a whole lot of big love for the neighborhood that has been so patient and supportive while this crazy space was wrangled into submission,” according to the announcement.

In addition, Clarkville will be kicking off growler sales with a keg of Russian River Pliny the Elder available for take out only in a fancy 64oz Clarkville Growler for $35.

Regular service and the full menu, which includes comfort food out of a giant double-decker pizza oven, starts on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 11 a.m.

Starting this Saturday, Clarkville will be open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. (The kitchen is open until midnight daily). Weekend brunch is coming soon, too. It will be served on Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, including menu and draft list, visit:

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Clarkville’s opening “very close” (updated)

December 2, 2015


Clarkville in September 2015 (Photo West Philly Local).

(12/3/2015): Here’s the latest update:

(12/2/2015): The opening of Clarkville bar and restaurant at 43rd and Baltimore is getting closer. According to its owner Leigh Maida, who we spoke to in the fall, the tentative opening date was Dec. 1, but it hasn’t opened yet. Clarkville’s opening was postponed a couple of times before, with the latest reason for delay being problems with electricity in the building. Maida and her business partners Brendan Kelly and Brendan Hartranft are renting the two-story, former Best House Pizza space at 43rd and Baltimore. But here’s some encouraging news. According to their latest tweet, the restaurant’s opening is very close. The executive chef has also been revealed on the Clarkville website. It’s Justin Bennett, who has been in charge of Local 44’s menu for the past three years. Earlier this year, Clarkville owners said that it would be “a little less beer forward and a little more food forward” than Local 44. Stay tuned for more information. 


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Check local holiday specials, events, and gift ideas; buy local for the holidays!

November 30, 2015

shoplocallog-300x300Shopping local is a way to keep more of your dollars in your own community. Our 2015 local holiday shopping guide, “Buy Local for the Holidays,” is here. Check out this page for information on holiday specials and events and for some great local gift ideas from a variety of West Philly businesses – bookstores, jewelers, gift shops, art galleries, bars, cafes and restaurants, and more!

This Week’s Holiday Specials include:

Monday, Nov. 30: Cyber Monday? How about “Cider Monday” at Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street. Enjoy hot cider and holiday treats as you spend a cozy Monday shopping locally. 25% off sale on select Random House titles kicks off today! The store is open until 6 p.m. Mon-Fri.

Thursday, Dec. 3 – Saturday, Dec. 5: Holiday Kick-Off at Hello World, 3610 Sansom Street – Featuring jewelry designed by West Philly jeweler Amy Neukrug. Thursday and Friday: 5-9 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 4: Opening reception for the University City Arts League Annual Holiday Craft Show, 6-8 p.m., 4226 Spruce Street. The show features hand-crafted one-of-a-kind gifts by 30 local artists.

• Saturday, Dec. 5: The Baltimore-Lancaster Avenue Shoppers’ Trolley (BLAST), 12-5 p.m. Featuring: great gifts and discounts galore from dozens of local businesses and free trolley shuttle service between Baltimore Avenue and Lancaster Avenue. The event is organized by the Baltimore Avenue Business Association (BABA) and People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PEC-CDC).

For more information about these and other local holiday events and specials, visit:

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“It chose me”: Vinny and Gangster Vegan Organics to move into old Cafe Renata location

November 5, 2015


Vinny Vegan aka Gangster Vegan.

In the early spring, a neighborhood café, Café Renata caught fire and was forced to relocate from the corner of 43rd and Locust. The space remained vacant for some months, but Vincent DePaul (Vinny Vegan aka Gangster Vegan, or Vinny Blanco to his childhood friends) of Gangster Vegan Organics has plans on changing that.

“I didn’t choose the location, it chose me. God sent me over there,” he said.

He named the business Gangster Vegan Organics because those were all terms that defined him. “Growing up, I was obsessed with that lifestyle. I wanted to redefine gangster, helping people reverse diseases like diabetes. That’s gangster. For me, gangster used to be going out to the club every night, spending money. But that’s not gangster.”


Photo from Gangster Vegan Organics Facebook page.

Currently DePaul has one Gangster Vegan Organics location in Norristown, which offers gluten-free, vegan and organic grab ‘n go food options. After considering plans to expand and scouting some potential locations for another store in Phoenixville and West Chester, he decided to go back to a familiar block in West Philadelphia. “I burst into tears when I first came around the building, you know exactly when it’s meant to be… I lived in West Philly when I was 19; I worked at Koch’s Deli for a year.”

He recounted his life events that led up to opening his first location in Norristown, right before he moved back from Los Angeles after becoming 12 years removed from his hometown. When the economy hit, his nine year old t-shirt business went bankrupt and he became homeless. He recalled a moment when he was hungry and had “hit rock bottom” and was given a cup of fresh pressed organic juice, which inspired him to go vegan and lead a healthier lifestyle.

According to DePaul, the new Gangster Vegan Organics will be opening in March. DePaul is interested in hiring a full staff (10-25 employees) for the location, preferably local to the neighborhood and with an interest or knowledge about the organic vegan lifestyle. The West Philly location will be a full-service restaurant with cooked and raw organic gluten-free offerings, seating up to 100 people.

Rana Fayez

Check out this video of Vinny making watermelon juice:

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