"food and drink"

48th Street Grille opening delayed; more Culinary Center news

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Annamarya Scaccia

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

Comments (2)

Buy local, support neighborhood businesses this holiday season

Posted on 03 December 2013 by

shoplocallogThe holiday season is here and many of you have already started looking for gifts and making holiday plans. According to national statistics, every $1 we spend at a local business, 65 cents is invested back into the local community. That’s roughly twice as much as big box stores. No big surprise there. Small businesses hook their success up to the success of the local community. Often they are our neighbors and friends.

At West Philly Local we are committed to helping local businesses and organizations succeed. We are also committed to telling residents about the community businesses that help make this a great place to live, work and shop. Please check out our annual “Shop Local for the Holidays” campaign page to see what our partners – local shops, restaurants, arts, fitness and other organizations – have to offer this holiday season.

Comments Off on Buy local, support neighborhood businesses this holiday season

HipCityVeg opening in West Philly possibly tomorrow

Posted on 09 October 2013 by Annamarya Scaccia

Photo of HipCityVeg's Rittenhouse Location (from HipCityVeg's Facebook page)

Photo from HipCityVeg’s Facebook page.

In July, we reported that Nicole Marquis, owner of HipCityVeg—the to-die-for vegan eatery east of the Schuylkill River—is bringing her jewel of Rittenhouse Square to West Philly. Well, turns out HipCityVeg’s second location, which will make itself home in the former Won Oriental Restaurant space at 214 South 40th Street (between Walnut and Locust), is opening this week (thanks to for the heads up on both accounts). If all goes well with construction today, HipCityVeg’s West Philly spot should open tomorrow, Melissa, a worker at HipCityVeg’s 127 S. 18th Street location, told West Philly Local.

HipCityVeg’s West Philly hours are tentatively 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with a possible later closing time Thursday through Saturday, said Jess, another HipCityVeg employee. Jess also added that the hours are “up in the air,” though, and management will have a better sense of how to move forward after the weekend. We’ll update this post when we have more info.

Annamarya Scaccia

Comments (2)

2013’s only Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll is this Thursday

Posted on 10 September 2013 by WPL

Dollar Stroll

Photo from Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll 2012/West Philly Local.

This year’s only Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll – after the first Stroll scheduled in June was rained out – will be Thursday, Sept. 12. This popular annual event draws huge crowds from West Philly and other parts of the city, who come to enjoy $1 deals, from food, sweets and beer to arts & crafts items to music and yoga class vouchers to theater tickets.

University City District (UCD), which organizes the event, says that established neighborhood businesses, like Milk & Honey, Dock Street Brewery and Firehouse Bikes, will participate in the Stroll along with newcomers that include Little Baby’s Ice Cream and The Green Tambourine. See the complete list of participating businesses here.

Radio station WXPN favorite The Fleeting Ends will perform live at the 46th Street Triangle, along with other artists and street performers. Free face painting and balloon artists will be on hand to entertain the little neighbors. Food trucks, including Jimmies Cupcake Co., Sunflower Truck Stop, The Tot Cart, and Lil Dan’s Food Truck ,will also be selling $1 items along the avenue.

Finally, stop by Clark Park (43rd & Baltimore) at 6:30 p.m. to take part in The Mp3 Experiment, a public, flash mob kind of event created by Improv Everywhere, where participants carry out coordinated instructions delivered to their headphones (instructions are available here).

As usual, the Dollar Stroll will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. along Baltimore Avenue between 43rd and 51st Streets. As we always recommend, make sure to get there early if you don’t want to miss out on best deals from over 30 local businesses.

Comments (2)

Pop the cork: Upscale liquor store opening at 43rd and Chestnut on Tuesday

Posted on 09 September 2013 by Mike Lyons


Those of you who like to knock one back now and again will be happy to learn that premium wine and liquor store at 43rd and Chestnut that has been discussed for what seems like a few years will open – on Tuesday!

The free booze will be flowing at the Premium Wine and Spirits Shop – if you are 21 and prove it of course – beginning at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The store has been in the works for a long time and was approved by the city, despite some protests from neighbors. It replaced an adult video store and check cashing joint. The store’s “premium” label means that no pints will be for sale. Read the whole saga behind the opening starting here.

The store’s opening will likely take much of the customer pressure off the store near 49th and Baltimore, which absorbed much of the traffic after the liquor store closed near 41st and Market in January 2012.

Here is the tasting schedule, according to

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.:

• Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach
• Hennessy VS Cognac
• Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut
• Chandon Napa Brut

4 p.m.– 6 p.m.:

• Barefoot Cellars Pinot Grigio
• Barefoot Cellars Malbec
• Barefoot Cellars Red Moscato
• Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante

The store hours are: Mon-Sat 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun noon – 5 p.m.

Comments (6)

Mexicali under construction for a new restaurant space

Posted on 26 July 2013 by Annamarya Scaccia


Photo by Annamarya Scaccia / West Philly Local.

After we posted our food and booze updates in West Philly earlier this month, readers started asking about what’s happening with the shuttered Mexicali Cafe at 110 S. 40th Street, and a couple of readers heard through the grapevine that the former Mexican joint is turning into a Korean restaurant.

Well, we did a little digging and found out that the University City space is, in fact, under construction, and it seems another restaurant will take its place. According to Licenses and Inspections records, Mizu Sushi Inc., which is listed as the applicant, was issued a renovation permit for the existing restaurant on March 15. The work described for the permit includes “interior renovation to an existing restaurant”–meaning interior upgrades, ceiling work, and construction of an ADA-compliant bathroom. A separate electrical permit was issued to Mizu on April 10.

West Philly Local stopped by the site multiple times, but was unable to connect with the owner. We did drop in Mizu, which is collecting packages for 110 S. 40th St according to a handwritten sign on the door, and the workers we spoke with were tight-lipped, declining to give out the owner’s contact info per his request. When asked about whether the space will open as a Korean restaurant, the worker said he heard the rumor but couldn’t confirm if it is true. We’ll post an update as soon as we have more info.

-Annamarya Scaccia

Comments (7)

Follow us on Instagram


Follow Us: