MANAYUNK’S TOP CHEF
51 Winners Revealed
How Moon Krapugthong Found Her Passion: Food as an Art Form CIAL EDITIO
Editors’ Choice Awards
MA N AY U N K
APRIL 15 - 11AM-5PM
APRIL 16 - APRIL 27
VOTED BEST PLACE TO LIVE â€“ MNYK 2017
4312 MAIN STREET MANAYUNK, PA 19127
contents SPRING 2018
Mark Your Calendar
What’s happening this spring in Manayunk.
Check out pics from local Instagrammers
From art student to top chef
Best Of Manayunk
The votes are in! See all of this
LIVE SHOP DINE PLAY
Best Pet-Friendly Business Latitudes and Longitudes
Best Lunch Spot
The Couch Tomato
Chris (Lucky’s Last Chance)
Best Healthy Menu Item
Açaí Bowl (Boostin’ Bowls)
What’s new in Manayunk
10 Best Place to Work 12
Best Place to Watch the Game
Best Place for Pet Care
Best New Workout
Bardio Sculpt (The Wall Cycling Studio)
The Animedic Veterinary Clinic
Meg (Greg’s Kitchen)
Best Customer Service The Little Apple
16 Best Stylist Su-Shan (Starshine Salon)
18 Best Place to Start Your Art Collection Orbit Art Gallery
Editorial + Production
48 Best Place to Get Your Groove On
The Grape Room
Best Shop Pet
Amelia (The Spiral Bookcase)
Entrepreneur of the Year
Terry Leahy (TerryLeahyFilms)
Manayunk Magazine is published by the
Editors Manayunk Development Corp. Jane Lipton, Meg Douress, Leo Dillinger, Kelsi Druck, Manayunk Development Corporation Daniel Glackin, Caitlin Maloney, 4312 Main Street Leksey Maltzman Philadelphia, PA 19127 Design 215.482.9565 | email@example.com Cantor Design, cantordesign.com Sales M7 Media • 610.417.9261; firstname.lastname@example.org Photography COVER JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com) Photographed by JPG Photography Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com) jpgphotography.com Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com) 4
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
fondly known as LeBus Manayunk
Is now offering Brunch til 3pm 7 Days a Week!
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Great wines • Craft Great beers wines on• tap Craft • Seasonal beers oncocktails tap • Seasonal cocktails Artisan breads •Artisan Full catering breads •menu Full• catering Outdoor dining menu • Outdoor dining Market menu • Breakfast Market menu • Lunch • Breakfast • Dinner• Lunch every• Dinner day Chef- Jason every LeDee day Award-winning Sunday Award-winning Brunch Sunday Brunch
66 Main Street,4266 Manayunk, Main Street, PA 19127 Manayunk, | 215.487.2663 PA 19127| |WinniesManayunk.com 215.487.2663 | WinniesManayunk. 4266 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Along historic Main Street, grab everything from savory BBQ to sweet desserts from over 50 of Philadelphia’s best food trucks and gourmet food vendors! Participating vendors will be highlighting dishes with the spring ingredient — strawberries! In addition to eating and shopping, there will be live music for people of all ages to enjoy at Green Lane, Cotton Street, and Shurs Lane. This event kicks off Spring Restaurant Week — Monday, April 16 to Friday, April 26th — which will feature Manayunk’s restaurants at fixed price menus.
thurs evenings june-aug Stroll the Street
Get ready for another summer of strollin’! Manayunk will host local food trucks, vendors, and live music on Cotton Street as visitors and residents walk, shop, and eat their way down Main Street. Select Manayunk restaurants will feature $5 cocktail and appetizer specials, while retailers will hold discounts, trunk shows, and other promotions. Check Manayunk.com for each week’s themed night.
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
may 12 Style Me Manayunk
Celebrate all things fashion and find the perfect Mother’s Day gift! Style Me Manayunk is an open-air market featuring all things “style,” including apparel, home décor, lifestyle, beauty, food, and beverage. The event will feature fashion and accessory vendors, live music, local food vendors, and more.
saturday / sunday june 23 / 24 Manayunk Arts Festival It’s our 29th year! Each year, we invite you to share in the tradition of excellence at the tri-state area’s largest outdoor juried arts festival. Celebrating the best variety of fine arts and crafts from across the country, nearly 200,000 collectors, buyers, and designers will visit Main Street for the annual Manayunk Arts Festival. Don’t forget to visit the Emerging Artist Tent where we will be featuring a wide range of local talent making a name for themselves in the art world.
Photography by JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
saturday april 15 + april 16 : april 27 StrEAT Food Festival + Restaurant Week
4324 Main Street â€¢ Manayunk, PA 19127 215.483.7387
4330 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127 | 920 Montgomery Ave. Narberth, PA 19072 WWW.THEJUICEMERCHANT.COM 4330 Main Street Manayunk, PA 19127 | 920 Montgomery Ave. Narberth, Pa. 19072 W W W.T H EJ U IC EM E RC HA N T.C O M
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT The cold weather didn’t slow Manayunk down this past winter! Everyone was in the holiday spirit from Small Business Saturday to the snowy Rudolph Run, where almost 300 runners braved the elements in their holiday best! And speaking of spirit, Manayunk also showed their Eagles pride this past February when our beloved Birds took home the Lombardi trophy. Main Street was buzzing for weeks! February also brought us the first ever Girl Scout Cookie Month! For 28 days, Manayunk’s restaurants featured the Girl Scouts’ signature cookies in dishes and cocktails, and retailers hosted cookie booths on Thursday nights. Check out some highlights from Instagram over the past few months. If you want to show off your favorite people, places, and things in Manayunk, use the hashtag #MNYK, or email email@example.com to takeover the Manayunk.com Instagram for a week!
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
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NEIGHBORHOODS WE SERVICE Philadelphia East Falls, Manayunk, Roxborough, and Wissahickon
215-508-1903 Manayunk Law Office 4322 Main Street 4374 Main Street P.O. Box 4603 Manayunk Philadelphia, PA 19127 firstname.lastname@example.org MNYKLaw.com William J. O’Brien Esq. www.toptailsdogwalking.com
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Trusted local specialist for all your real estate needs. Sellers, contact me for a free comparative market analysis on the sale of your property. Buyers, contact me for a free meeting on the home buying process.
Office: 215-961-6005 Cell: 215-266-4549 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
REAL ESTATE AROUND PHILLY 50
manayunk.com | Winter 2016
Spring 9 Summer 2017 || manayunk.com manayunk.com 47 Spring2018 15
LIVE Best Place To Work
Crossmedia T here’s no receptionist at Crossmedia. There isn’t even a reception area. That concept is foreign at a company like this — it’s a workplace where collaborating and talking to your peers is how work gets done. Crossmedia moved its Philadelphia office from Radnor to Manayunk a few years ago, and finally settled in an unassuming building on Rector Street in April 2017. It sits across from Bourbon Blue, backing up against the Schuylkill River Trail, and identified only by a neon “X.” The media agency prides itself on data and analytics, lives on authenticity, and celebrates with Burger Fridays. “We work in advertising. Do we have fun? Of course we do, but this is advertising — you’re supposed to have fun,” said Chris Ebmeyer, the Managing Director in the Manayunk office. “You’re supposed to come to work and be creative.” Crossmedia embodies the “work hard, play hard” philosophy. Come to work in a pair of comfortable, worn-in jeans, throw your latest playlist on the SONOS sound system, and pop out for coffee on Main Street when you need a caffeine fix. On a Friday, migrate upstairs, sit at a high top and watch a movie on one of the big-screen TVs. Maybe even pour yourself a beer. They’re serious about Burger Fridays, too. What’s the opposite of a corporate environment? That’s Crossmedia. “Of course, the ‘work hard’ part of the equation comes first,” Chris said. The firm’s foundation is media planning and buying, but it delves into everything from social media and SEO, to advanced analytics and consulting. Crossmedia’s client roster includes local organizations and national brands (spanning from The Philadelphia Zoo to Advance Auto Parts and White Castle), and collaborating with colleagues in New York or Los Angeles is part of the daily routine. “People work really hard when they have something to work for,” Chris said. “We trust them and it’s repaid with hard work.” Brian Linz, the Operations Manager at Crossmedia, said the team’s core philosophy rests on teamwork, collaboration, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Collaboration, Brian said, creates flexible work roles and employees are encouraged to be creative and champion new projects. Everyone can contribute, he said, and every team member’s opinions will be heard and recognized. If you have an idea, let’s hear it. This philosophy permeates the culture at Crossmedia. If you have a new solution to a problem, speak up and solve it. If you have an idea 10
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
By Brian Anderson Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
for lunch, share it at the all-hands-in Tuesday meeting. If you went to a concert and heard a killer new song, create a playlist for the SONOS. If you want to play in a rec league, there’s a company softball team. (Truth be told, the team wasn’t much of a contender. “We did have great uniforms, though,” Brian said.) “It speaks to the diversity of who we are as a culture and a community,” he added. And business is booming, said Gerard McKee, a group director at the firm. Crossmedia’s Manayunk office employs more than 30 media-buying and data-analytics professionals. A majority of Crossmedia’s local professionals are just that — local. “A good bench of talent” funnels out from the region’s higher education pipeline every year, Gerard said. He added that while the city isn’t home to many of the heavy hitters, the region is a talent incubator because local, independent media agencies aren’t afraid to compete against national agencies. And unsurprisingly, a few Crossmedia employees call Manayunk home. “We’re a Philly agency of Philly people,” Gerard said. “That sense of community, of everyone knows each other really well, pervades the agency.” That might be why Crossmedia feels so authentically Manayunk. Its culture jives with the laid back atmosphere up and down Main Street. If it’s 5 o’clock on Friday, you might spot a group from Crossmedia tucked in a booth at a bar on Main Street. This is the kind of company you’ll find having lunch at a taco joint, not a steakhouse. Brian said Manayunk was the right blend of convenience and small town feel — all while keeping a Philadelphia street address. “That’s one of the reasons we stayed in Manayunk, and to have an office like this is really cool,” Brian said. Let’s talk about the office. It’s bright with lofty ceilings, and a long bar and high tops invite you into the main space. Downstairs, exposed stone and the large open floor plan, devoid of cubicles, creates a real sense of inclusion. Did we mention the building dates back to the 1880s, was founded as a mill, and was later converted to produce gunpowder and dynamite? (Could you get more authentically Manayunk?) But is Crossmedia dreaming of a bigger and brighter space? Do they plan on packing up and settling down on Market Street, or in Old City, or out in the ‘burbs again? Not in the foreseeable future. “Manayunk works for us. It allows us to have more fun,” Chris said. “It’s the best small town in the best big city.”
CHEF WALDEMAR STRYJEWSKI
You can call him Val.
We call him EXTRAORDINARY!
4311 MAIN STREET
LIVE Best Place for Pet Care
The Animedic Veterinary Clinic By Megan Douress
eing an animal lover is in Dr. Jennifer Jones’ DNA. Her parents raised her in a home where animals were always present. “There are photos of me when I was two or three years old with our pet chickens, dogs, and cats,” she recalled. “I had a pair of hens and I had hamsters — a lot of hamsters! My parents were huge animal lovers.” Growing up, Jennifer saw herself working in a zoo someday — breeding endangered animals and creating species’ survival plans. She went on to study biology with minors in chemistry and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania when it dawned on her. She realized that in order to take that career path, she should become a veterinarian. Jennifer continued her education at Penn with her first pet by her side — a cat she received as a kindergarten present. At the same time, she moved to Manayunk with her husband and started her own house call practice. She would pack all of her medical equipment in a bag and visit pets in their homes for wellness and urgent care appointments. “A lot of time was spent on my stomach trying to get cats out from under beds!” Jennifer laughed. Two years later, Jennifer opened her brick and mortar, The Animedic Veterinary Clinic, at 102 Jamestown Avenue. “There were vets in Manayunk, but not a multi-doctor, extended hours vet clinic,” she said. “I’ve been in this part of Philadelphia for a long time and have always loved it.” The Animedic is, in Jennifer’s words, “pretty comprehensive.” Jennifer and her staff of veterinarians and veterinary technicians offer the basics, like spays, neuters, and annual vaccinations; to more advanced services, such as full-service dental, digital x-rays, and all kinds of surgeries, including amputations. They even have an orthopedic specialist who comes in once a month. “We’ve removed eyes, we’ve done mechanic surgeries, and we’ve done bladder stones,” Jennifer explained. “We’re a little bit more involved but we don’t do anything truly specialized, like kidney transplants and CAT scans.” Although The Animedic is the only veterinary clinic like it, what truly makes her practice The Best Place for Pet Care is her passionate staff. 12
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Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com) When the clinic first opened, Jennifer researched a lot of successful companies she likes and learned about their customer service. “I’m a veterinarian, but owning a business is a horse of another color, if you will,” she laughed. “I read about how these big companies run their businesses, and it really came down to hiring staff members for their personalities over their qualities, so, that’s kind of what I’ve done.” Jennifer explained that she has hired staff of all backgrounds — from a retired woman who was a client of hers, to current vet technician, Brian, who she hired right out of school. “None of my vet techs had any experience,” she said. “I trained everybody. That was the initial start-up model — to hire based on personality and strong work ethic.” “Now that I’m getting busier, I have to hire people with experience, but I still get good personalities in there,” she added. “It’s a lot of work to train, but it paid off.” With every visit to The Animedic, you’re greeted by a smiling face behind the counter, and the resident cat behind her. But it takes more than just a friendly welcome to be the Best Place for Pet Care. “Customer service does not come easy,” Jennifer explained. “Even if you have a crew that’s friendly, you really have to try to listen to everyone’s concerns and try to make it right. The whole ‘the customer is always right’ really is true.” To ensure their clients and patients always have a pleasant experience at the clinic, the staff at The Animedic uses “fear-free handling” of their pets. They use a lot of treats to minimize stress for both the animals and their owners. They’ll even wrap cats up in blankets and use quiet, calm voices during their visits. “I hope people know that we really strive for high-quality medicine and good customer service,” Jennifer said of present and future plans. “I can say this about our staff — we genuinely are animal lovers.” “I was reading an article recently where the author said that outside of raising her children, the best thing she had ever done was have her business. I have to agree with that. It’s like my fifth child! I really love what I do.”
4417 Main Street • Manayunk • sonapub.com
SHOP Best Customer Service
The Little Apple By Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba Photography By Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
rom the second you walk into The Little Apple, you feel like you’re walking into the owner’s home. You immediately get a warm welcome from owner, Brandy Deieso, and her dog, Bettie. You’re invited into the bright, open atmosphere of the storefront that was built entirely by her husband, Joe. The candle burning on the front counter fills the entire shop with a fresh scent. “I always like for my store to smell good,” Brandy said. “One of the first things I love to hear people say when they come in is, ‘Oh my gosh, it smells so good in here!’ It’s a warm welcome for shoppers.” As customers enter the shop, Brandy always greets her guests to make them feel comfortable, but is certain to let them explore the shop on their own before chiming in. “I never like shopping at a store when someone keeps asking if I need help with something,” Brandy said. “I always let people look around on their own and usually we start chatting when they clearly look like they need help with something or if an item catches their eye.” Brandy has a story about every item she sells in the store — where it came from, if it was made by a local artist, or if she owns it herself— so she can always easily direct customers to find what they need. If she doesn’t have exactly what you’re looking for, though, she’s happy to do some digging and find it for you through her wholesale contacts. “I always try to keep it new and fresh in here, but my customers are always giving me suggestions on what to carry, so I try to take that into account when I’m ordering,” she said. And if you see something in the shop you love, but need a customization or want to buy in bulk, she’s happy to help with that, too. Since purchasing The Little Apple in 2013, Brandy has worked to create a level of customer service her shoppers have become accustomed to, but she doesn’t do it alone. She has a team that includes her mom, Joy, Joe, and a few employees who give each customer have a positive experience. “Nobody is going to care about your store more than your own family members,” she said. “My mom treats this shop like her own, and sometimes, people even think she owns it because they see her here helping at larger events.” As for Joe, he builds props for the shop’s infamous window displays, he helps with holiday decorating, and even works the register sometimes. “Joe loves flirting with our lady customers and claims that’s why he makes so many great sales when he’s behind the register,” Brandy laughed. Besides her mom and Joe, Brandy has a very formal hiring process for
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
her part-time team members. “I go into other local businesses and see who strikes me as really approachable and see if they are looking for additional hours,” she said. “The people I’ve seen in action while they were working for other Main Street businesses — they always turn out the best.” Brandy’s team came even more in handy this past year when Brandy and Joe welcomed their baby girl, Estella. Though Brandy was nervous to go on maternity leave, she was grateful to have the chance to, thanks to one of her team members, Alicia. “I could never thank Alicia enough,” Brandy said. “Most small business owners don’t get much time with their newborns.” Now that Estella is here, having her mom in the shop on busy days, during events, or around the holidays allows Brandy to rotate feeding the baby and keeping her eye on the store. For days when she’s all alone in the shop, Brandy came up with a clever way to step out of the shop for a few minutes to nurse Estella. A sign hangs on the door that says, “Feeding the baby. Be back in 10 minutes depending on how hungry she is.” “People are really good about not getting mad about my little sign,” she laughed. “If you make it funny, they don’t usually get mad.” Though Brandy hates closing the shop for any reason, she hopes she can make up for her few minutes out of the shop by the great customer service she provides year-round. Brandy’s customers are also likely understanding because many have become part of her family — watching her family grow just as much as she has been able to watch their families expand. And, connecting with her customers is what’s it’s all about for Brandy. “I don’t know if I’m just lucky the store has attracted such nice and wonderful people, but because they are so supportive, it gets me excited to come in every morning,” Brandy said. “This isn’t brain surgery — you want a shop to make you happy and that’s what we’re trying to do here.” Though Brandy has won other “Best Of” awards in the past, she said winning Best Customer Service means the most to her. “People want to come into your shop if you’re making them feel good and doing everything you can to create the best possible experience for them,” she said. “People can see through phoniness, so the fact that I won Best Customer Service tells me people see that I’m really happy to be here. I love interacting with my customers, hearing their stories, watching their families grow and all of the wonderful things that make it fun for me to come in everyday, so I’m glad to see that it’s translated to the voters.”
Carefree Living Around Manayunk
• Garden Style Apartments
• 24 Hour Fitness Center
• Private Entrances
• 1 mile to SEPTA train
• 2 miles to Main Street
• Free Off-Street Parking
• Across from Umbria
• Dog Park & Canine Trail
www.theglenapartments.net | 215.482.4889
SHOP Best Stylist
(Starshine Salon) By Ainsley Maloney Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
n her late 20’s, Su-Shan Lai owned a successful salon in Beverly Hills, CA. She hustled day and night, working 80-hour weeks and spending most evenings at social events to mingle with potential new clients. Despite all of her success, though, Su-Shan felt increasingly unfulfilled. Striving for more, it turned out, clashed with who she was deep down. “You have to stop and figure out what is the thing that really makes you happy,” Su-Shan said. “I am not materialistic. I believe in high-end service, but not high-end superficiality. Some people want glamorous, and that’s fine. But I prefer a small, cozy space to keep the prices reasonable. I am more comfortable one on one: I like really be present with that one person.” The Pottstown, PA native soon decided her heart was pulling her back to the area, and in 2012, she opened Starshine Salon on 4456 Main St. (a spot that is now home to her husband J.D. Korejko’s comic book store, Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex). Now, five years later, Su-Shan’s 111 Grape St. salon has become so popular that, rumor has it, Philadelphians had better odds of getting tickets to see the Eagles in the Super Bowl than booking an appointment with Manayunk’s Best Stylist. With 1,040 clients, she’s been booked solid since October 2016, accepting regulars and referrals only. Despite her usual workaholic tendencies to extend her hours, she’s stayed true to herself. She hired a stylist, Grace, to pick up new clients so Su-Shan can press “pause” for now. “Who needs more than a thousand clients?” she said with a laugh, especially considering she knows each and every client intimately. When they enter her salon, it’s free of noise, chaos and clutter. She doesn’t double-book clients, so their time in her space is theirs alone. Consultations with her are up to a half hour where Su-Shan asks her clients deep questions to learn about their habits, lifestyle, and goals for their hair. That might even result in talking a client out of a very expensive treatment. Su-Shan explained, “If a client wants a keratin treatment, I ask them how often they work out. Keratin breaks down with sweat and frequent shampooing. I tell them, ‘This may not last as long as you’d like, so it may be a bigger investment than you expected.’” “I make sure my clients have all of the information,” she continued. “I wouldn’t feel good about my work if I made people buy unnecessary products. I don’t want to clutter my clients’ lives with extra maintenance or expensive upkeep.” Su-Shan’s philosophy resonated strongly with Kathleen Lambert, owner of Kat Cares Pet Sitting, who has been a regular client for over two years. Kat used to seek out the cheapest cut, and as a result, her hair, she said, 16
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was looking limp and dull. Desperate, she walked into Su-Shan’s salon one day, having recognized her from a local business meeting. “I said, ‘I don’t know what to even ask for, but I need you to help me and my hair!’” she recalled with a laugh. “Su-Shan really educated me on my hair and on what the cuttery was doing to it,” Kat added. “She explained that instead of using bleach, she was going to use a blonding cream. She recommended a conditioning treatment that made my hair feel amazing. She’s so well educated in the product line she carries. It was really a conversation about what I wanted, and what she could do to help. I trusted her completely.” The results solidified Kat’s loyalty. “After she did my hair I was floored,” Kat said. “I looked better, and I felt better. I am 150 percent confident that she knows exactly what she’s doing. I always say, ‘She’s worth every single penny!’” Their appointments led to more than amazing hair. Great conversations soon blossomed into a friendship. During one styling appointment, Su-Shan shared that she and her husband were looking to move closer to their Manayunk businesses. Kat, who lives two blocks from Main Street, mentioned the house next to her was for rent. Now, Su-Shan and Kat are next-door neighbors. For her part, Su-Shan loves the freedom of walking five minutes to work every day. She’s now a Manayunk resident and business owner as well as a board member of the local non-profits North Light Community Center and Manayunk Theater Company. “Manayunk is so artistically vibrant,” said Su-Shan. “There are always people walking by, there’s great food. I am so impressed by how many other female business owners are here. It’s such a ‘girl power’ kind of area.” Su-Shan recalled how, when she first opened her salon, two women took her in immediately. Meredith Podob-Gornick, the owner of Latitudes and Longitudes, welcomed her warmly and introduced her to the other store owners. Also, Moon Krapugthong (chef-owner of Yanako, Chabaa Thai Bistro, and Binto Market) invited Su-Shan to host a talk at Yanako for an Asian-American Female Entrepreneurs event. “It’s exactly the kind of welcoming community I always wanted to be a part of,” she said. Feeling much more at peace with where she is both in her business and her life, Su-Shan expressed immense gratitude toward all the people who have supported her along the way. “I tell my clients, ‘Thank you,’ personally as much as possible,” Su-Shan said, “but it’s really important for my clients to know how much they are appreciated, and how grateful I am for them.”
Anniversary BEST OF MAIN LINE AND WESTERN SUBURBS
Yanako JAPANESE KITCHEN + SUSHI BAR theyanako.com 4255 Main Street Philadelphia PA 19127 267-297-8151
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Chabaa PRIVATE EVENT SPACE | CATERING www.chabaathai.com 4343 Main St, Philadelphia PA 19127 215-483-1979
Binto CASUAL ASIAN CUISINE + MARKET Dine In | Grab-N-Go | Catering 儀唀䤀䌀䬀Ⰰ 䌀䄀匀唀䄀䰀 䄀匀䤀䄀一 䌀唀䤀匀䤀一䔀⸀
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SHOP Best Place To Start Your Art Collection
Orbit Art Gallery By Leo Dillinger Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
hether you’re looking to become the next great art aficionado of the 21st century or just trying to fill the blank walls of your new apartment, Orbit Art Gallery is a must-visit destination for fine art fanatics and unique craft collectors. Orbit Art Gallery originally opened as an American craft gallery in Center City during the 80s, but by 1996, owners David Decca and Sandy Zanetto moved the shop to Manayunk and expanded the business to offer fine art prints and custom framing. Ever since, David and Sandy have strived to use their shop as a nexus for artists and their patrons. “We try to integrate the gallery into our personal lives,” David said. “We’ve remained close friends with the artists we support and in doing so, we’ve made a lot of connections through this approach that other galleries don’t have.” David attributes his personal connections with local artists like Elissa Gore, Tom Stoenner, Emily Keifer and many more as the foundation for any art collector, stressing the importance of meeting the local artists you choose to support. David said most artists are usually more than happy to talk about themselves and what inspires them at their gallery exhibits and art shows. These one-on-one experiences with artists help instill personal value to the prints you purchase. David will also tell you right away that collecting art is about much more than money. It’s about supporting talented individuals who are trying to create something beautiful or visceral. Even if you have a boatload of money, it’s still very difficult to actually make a profit in the art-collecting world. Once you acknowledge this, David said the process becomes a lot easier to embrace art for what it is. “Do your homework first and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about,” David said. “I tell folks, ‘Do it because you love it, not because you’re trying to score on it.’ It takes a while to do that. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme.” 18
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Although Philadelphia’s art scene tends to be overshadowed by the glamour of New York City, David recognizes the growing presence of rising stars that are creating new and exciting things all over the city. He admires the volume of resources for artists and art lovers including the abundance of museums, art shows, galleries, art schools, and public murals. In fact, roughly 30 percent of the pieces inside Orbit Art Gallery come from artists who live within a five-mile radius of the gallery. Here in Manayunk, artists flock to the neighborhood in attempt to replicate its picturesque landscape and architecture onto blank canvases. As a result, David and Sandy always keep a wide variety of Manayunk-centric prints in stock because both residents and visitors can’t get enough of them. It’s one of the many reasons why they moved their business here and why they haven’t left. “One of the things that has helped us by being in Manayunk is focusing on art that showcases our neighborhood: the Manayunk Bridge, Main Street, the Towpath,” David said. “There are a lot of great scenes down here worth painting and so that’s helped us a lot.” No matter where they go, David and Sandy always try to support local artists. They frequently attend art shows up and down the East Coast to find new and interesting pieces for the gallery or for their own collections. Over the course of their 35-year tenure in the art industry, their personal collection of fine art and crafts has grown exponentially. David and Sandy truly love their work and the folks that come into their lives. So much so that even the name “Orbit” itself is a direct reference to the social circle of artists and art lovers who they interact with over the years. David and Sandy’s passion for art and culture is the driving force of their gallery, which is what makes it a must-visit destination for creative minds. “Fine art is a reflection of our culture back to us,” David said. “If we don’t have that, we don’t have any guideposts. It acts as an emotional thermostat to where we are as a culture and what’s happening at that time.”
Canal Lounge at Bourbon Blue
The Canal Lounge is Manayunkâ€™s premier event space. Perfect for groups up to 125 people, for any and every event. Contact our event coordinator, Melissa at email@example.com for more information.
2 Rector St., Manayunk bourbonblue.com
SHOP Best Pet-Friendly Business
Latitudes and Longitudes By Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba Photography By Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
t’s not unusual to walk into Latitudes and Longitudes and be greeted by several wet tongues and wagging tails. And that’s exactly how shop owner, Meredith Podob-Gornick, likes it. Though Meredith is a dog mom herself, she chooses to leave her pups at home to give all of her attention to the dogs that visit her in the shop. “I love having other dogs in the store all day,” she said. “It just brightens my day when I see them walk in.” From the time Meredith opened her shop, she immediately noticed the need for a pet-friendly store, mainly due to Manayunk’s growing dog population. She brought in pet-themed inventory, adjusted the store layout, and began offering perks to her four-legged customers. Walk to the back of Meredith’s shop and you will find a whole section of the store that has been dedicated to pet-themed inventory. “There’s something to buy for yourself, for your pet-loving friend, or for your four-legged friend, too. Everyone has a friend that is obsessed with their dog,” Meredith laughed. Meredith carries everything from pet toys, frames, mugs, and signs, to paw print leash hooks and a wooden pet toy box from one of her favorite companies, Rustic Marlin. And, she has big plans for the future — Meredith will be expanding her pet-friendly inventory to notebooks, journals, and even cat-related items. “I’m really excited to be bringing in more products for our pet customers,” Meredith said. “I just ordered some new toys from Harry Barker. They have really funny and unique stuffed toys, like leopard print slippers.” In order to make sure the shop is set-up for her four-legged shoppers, Meredith has made a few modifications to the store layout. “I always make sure there are no breakable items on the ground so my dog shoppers don’t have to worry about knocking anything over,” Meredith said. “I also always have the dog toys on the lower shelves, too, because every dog should be able to pick out their own toy.” One of the perks of shopping at Latitudes and Longitudes are the treats. Every dog that walks into the shop is always offered a Milk-Bone — though, many know exactly where to find the Milk-Bones on their own. “So many customers tell me that when they turn the corner onto Main
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
Street, their dog leads them right into my shop,” Meredith laughed. “They know exactly where to find the treats!” She’s also heard many stories from customers about how their dog sits outside of her shop early in the morning before the shop opens with their nose pressed against the window. “They know I’m the treat lady, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Meredith laughed. For many Manayunk dog owners, a stop at Latitudes and Longitudes to visit Meredith is part of their walk. One dog, Emma, and her owner, Diane, sometimes stop in multiple times a day. Even dogs that haven’t been in the shop before walk by and pull their owners in because they can smell the scent of other dog shoppers. Sometimes, Meredith joked, she becomes friendly with her dog customers before getting to know their owners. Over the years, many dog owners have become her best customers and some of her closest friends, including Juliane Holz, who helps out at Latitudes and Longitudes on the weekends. In the summer, you’ll usually find Julia’s dog, Theo, working in the shop. His sole job is to make sure there is always fresh clean water in the bowl and greet his fellow dog customers, whether they are a regular or a first-time shopper. Connecting with so many pet owners has also led Meredith to get more involved in the pet community in Manayunk. Seven years ago, she started Santa Paws, an event in December where pets can get their photo with Santa, and she even helps run the @dogsofmanayunk Instagram account. “We started the account because there were so many different dogs we would meet and we wanted to share them with everyone,” Meredith said. “We’ve connected a lot of dog owners together through their dogs.” Having dogs in her shop, running Santa Paws, and posting on the @dogsofmanayunk Instagram account has allowed Meredith to see so many Manayunk dogs grow throughout the years, from puppies to fullgrown pooches. One thing is for sure though, “Once they have their first Milk-Bone, they’re hooked,” Meredith said.
LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE
215.482.2819 altmanco.com Come view our unique apartments located in a magnificent hillside setting with breathtaking views. Our prime location will complement your exciting lifestyle. We are conveniently located just blocks away from Main Street, Manayunk’s electrifying nightlife, first-class boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Minutes from Center City, many of Philadelphia’s colleges and universities, King of Prussia Mall. Routes 76, 476, I-95 and public transportation are steps from your door. Come visit to see your awe-inspiring new home!
3901 Manayunk Avenue • Philadelphia, PA 19128
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Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 21
COVER STORY Best Chef
“The Journey From Art Student to Manayunk’s Top Chef” By Megan Douress and Leksey Maltzman Photography by JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
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hen you sit down to dine at any of Nongyao “Moon” Krapugthong’s three restaurants on Main Street, it’s as if you’re sitting in a piece of art — one that she carefully selected herself. The atmosphere is clean but earthy, open yet somehow warm and welcoming. And then, there are the sounds and smells of her Thai restaurant, Chabaa Thai Bistro. They immediately transport you to Moon’s hometown, Bangkok, where she originally found her passion for food. “I was always in the kitchen,” Moon explained, “especially when I was very young.” She credits her father for her early introduction to the the wonders of the kitchen. “I helped my dad do the prep and the clean up,” Moon continued. “I learned a lot from my dad because he was the chef for my family.” It wasn’t only her father who influenced Moon’s interest in food, but also her Thai culture that made cooking for others so important to Moon’s journey to becoming a chef. Moon shared that food was a central part of her culture, both in the home and on the street. “In my culture and in my family, everything is about enjoying eating, the company, and storytelling,” Moon said. “When we drink and eat together, we share stories about today’s activities, memories, and hopes for the future.” Moon was always surrounded by amazing food because in Bangkok, street food is ingrained in their culture. “The culture in my country is full of food everywhere,” Moon elaborated, “on the street, on every corner. In this country, when people see you on the street, they say, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and talk about the weather,” she continued. “In my culture, people say, ‘Hi, how are you? Did you eat yet?’” Despite this early introduction and fascination with cooking Thai cuisine, Moon did not immediately pursue becoming a chef, nor did she ever imagine she would. Instead, she studied business, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Thammasat University, then moved to Chicago for her M.B.A. at North Park University. Her boyfriend at the time — now husband, Pat Powitoon, — convinced her to move to Rhode Island with him. There, she begrudgingly worked behind a computer crunching numbers for a few years before following her more creative dreams. “I had more fun having a party,” Moon laughed. “I always throw the party — I cook and feed my guests. I enjoy that.” Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 23
She continued, “There was something inside me that said, ‘You still have more,’ and I wanted to express it. I’m not a nine-to-five kind of person. I’m not structured. I want to use my hands to create.” Moon was enthralled by the art world, particularly the performance art trend called Happenings, which is usually a temporary experience, event, or performance that often did not take place in a museum or gallery setting. This need to create lead Moon back to school, but this time for her M.F.A. in black and white photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. “I quit my job and moved to central Pennsylvania with my cat to be with my husband,” Moon remembered. “I found how to express myself, connect with people, to go inward, and to be honest with myself about what I like.” And, while she always knew she liked art, what she liked the most was cooking. “If photography is a tool or medium for the artist to express him or herself, why not food?” Moon asked herself while she was in art school. The thought sparked Moon to cook for her photography thesis show. It was then she realized her passion: cooking as an art form. Upon finishing her thesis, Moon soon found herself in Philadelphia where she wanted to start her own business. One friend recommended opening a cafe in the “quaint” neighborhood of Manayunk, a place Moon never heard of. She visited Manayunk one winter looking for a small building, and fell in love with 4371 Main Street. “I looked around the second floor and the beautiful chandelier and I said to my husband, ‘I like this building. I think I can cook here,’” Moon smiled as she recalled the day. Moon opened her first restaurant, Chabaa Thai Bistro, on the west end of Main Street in 2007. Moon would perfect her art in the back of the 24
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house while a friend would serve her food. But, food wasn’t the only thing she had in mind with this new adventure. Moon wanted the space to be artistic as well. She shipped clay plates here from Thailand, and eventually, purchased dinnerware and table decorations from local artists she found at the Manayunk Arts Festival. “I wanted to portray my culture in the restaurant by making it welcoming, and have the food be pretty to make people happy,” she said. “I wanted it happy, friendly, small.” The success of Chabaa Thai lead her to her next adventure, something she has always had an appreciation for — Japanese food. But why Japanese? “I love challenging myself because I always start with love,” Moon shared. “I’m a very emotional person, and sometimes, I just go by my gut.” Moon was fascinated by how Japanese chefs can pick a raw fish from the ocean, and create with it — from seasonings to sauces and presentation — and her eye (and taste buds) for detail made it happen. In 2012, Moon opened Yanako Japanese Kitchen & Sushi Bar at 4255 Main Street. Her theory in opening another Asian restaurant was, “If you have good food, people will follow.” “Japanese food is simple, minimalistic,” Moon said. “Simple is not easy to do. It’s a nice clean plate with nice clean lines — it’s fresh, delicate, and complex all in one.” Moon went on to explain that if a Japanese restaurant makes a good miso soup, then the kitchen tends to make everything else on the menu well. When asked what her favorite dish at Yanako is, Moon hesitated, and then answered with a laugh, “We have good miso soup.” Complimenting her head chef, she also likes when he creates new sushi rolls, such as the Almond Joy roll. As for her favorites at Chabaa Thai, she has to agree with her customers — Jungle Curry, which is made of flat noodles with a light soy gravy, fermented beans, and Chinese broccoli. So, how does she differentiate her two businesses?
“I think if there is good music, your ear will go, ‘Oh, I like that. Who wrote that? Who composed it?’ If there is good food, you’ll go, ‘Oh, that smells good. I want to try it!’” Moon smiled. “I thought if I successfully created a place that had very good service and very good food, people would follow. It lead to having Chabaa Thai stand on its own.” People did follow, and after seven years at 4371 Main Street, Chabaa Thai was in need of an expansion. The storage and kitchen staff simply weren’t enough to support the customer base Moon had built in the tiny space. “I’m really emotional about my first building because it’s like my first baby,” Moon said. “I had little storage, no walk-in fridge, we had to walk up and down from the kitchen — it was really, really tight for the expanded menu that I had and the number of customers I had.” Moon’s first plan was to expand next door, but with an expiring lease, Moon decided to close all together and temporarily move some of Chabaa Thai’s menu items to Yanako to keep her customer base satisfied. Shortly after closing, the double storefront at 4343 Main Street became available. “Actually, I liked the space a long time ago,” Moon recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait to be a tenant of this building!’ To me, it’s a dream come true, but it required a lot of capitol and time because it needed a full conversion.” The space didn’t have anything to accommodate a restaurant of Chabaa Thai’s size, and took two full years to completely renovate. In those two years, Moon spent time expanding her menu to fill the stomachs of her growing customer base. Even so, she has kept the favorites consistent, including pad thai, dum yum, hot and sour soup, and the spicy beef salad. In August of 2016, Chabaa Thai reopened with it’s sidekick, Binto Market & Cafe. Moon’s goal of her new Asian market was to provide food customers can grab or order fresh at affordable prices, such as chicken curry puffs and authentic soups and noodles. But her dream is much
Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 25
CHEF MOON CREDITS A LOT OF HER SUCCESS TO HER STAFF AT ALL OF HER RESTAURANTS.
larger than that. “I have a big dream, but many times, the reality doesn’t catch up,” Moon said. “I would love to have people cook healthy Asian food and get the ingredients here. It doesn’t matter how big the space that I want, the reality is, it’s never going to be enough. I always tell my customers, ‘Whatever you need, tell me. I can get it for you.’” Moon is able to have that extra special personal experience with her customers because she has an amazing team supporting her at all three locations. “I have a lot of expectations,” Moon expressed. “I am really hands-on and really detailed, which is sometimes a curse! Like this morning, I mopped the floor. I did! I don’t have to, but I want to send a message. I want the first customer who comes in here each night to know it’s clean. We don’t have any excuses with the first customer.” “It’s around the clock work,” she continued. “The key to getting them going without going crazy is to let them do it. They can do it better than I can. And I have to trust them. We really focus on the small details. You
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know why? It really reflects how much we care for each other. If you get the foundation — cleanliness, punctuality, reliability, and care — all of these together will move things forward.” Not only does her staff help run the businesses on a day-to-day basis, but they help her keep the menu fresh and up-to-date with the changing seasons. Moon explains that in order to come to an agreement, there is a lot of experimenting, a lot of tweaking, and a lot of discussion. She looks to her staff — along with her daughter, Tinnah, and her husband — to taste test new menu items. “They are very critical and very picky,” Moon laughed. “Sometimes, there are politics around the table. I tend to like salty so I have to open my ear to what people think about it. As my friend, Chef Keith, would say, ‘We are as good as our team, so it doesn’t matter how good you are.’ When I get any credit for my hard work, I go to my team.” When it comes to some of the more unique flavor combinations on her menus, Moon said she starts with the core dish and traditional Thai cooking methods, then often provokes the conversation by saying, “Cook this dish.” “My job is to make them work harder. My job is to make them play. I think in the kitchen is a lot of playing, challenging, accruing, and even upsetting sometimes. In the end, it’s fun!” Moon said. She even encourages playing in the kitchen with her customers. Moon recalled a time when a customer was throwing a party and wanted to make a specific kind of Asian noodle he had learned while attending culinary school in Bangkok. He wanted to show off to his friends, so he gave a list of ingredients to Moon for advice on where to purchase them. On the other hand, Moon will have customers come in and ask if she has an ingredient to cook with, and many times, she’ll snip it right off of her sweet basil plant she has growing in the back of her kitchen. “It’s fun. You need to connect with people and don’t lose sight of where you originally came from,” Moon said. “Sometimes, it’s so fun that I don’t think I’m a chef, but that I’m a woman who knows how to cook.” As for the future, Moon hopes to host cooking classes. She has always wanted to rebuild that connection with her customers, as she often finds herself stuck in the kitchen many nights. “I miss when my customers would call me ‘Mama Moon’ and say, ‘Meet my date!’ and really get to know them,” Moon reminisced. “I love when I see some of my original customers and when they say, ‘Hey, Moon, we’ve been following you since your first location.’” Thinking about how she can build her relationships with her customers circles back to where she comes from. It’s about surrounding yourself with good food, good people, and love. “If you work for your love, you will enjoy it and you feel like today you made a difference for yourself and for others. Find love first.”
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267-437-3616 www.sulimayshair.com 28
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The votes are in! Best of Manayunk is back to celebrate our diverse businesses and community, and everything our vibrant, historic neighborhood has to offer. Within a one mile corridor of Main Street and the surrounding side streets sits Manayunkâ€™s vibrant business district. From specialty shops to high-end boutiques, from craft beer and fine dining scenes to outdoor recreation and an entire fitness community, Manayunk has it all. With so much diversity, we wanted to put the call out to you, the public, to nominate your favorite Manayunk businesses in 51 different categories. Nearly 10,000 individuals casted more than 125,000 votes, and here we bring you, the Best of Manayunk 2018. On March 15, Manayunk businesses and community members gathered to celebrate the Best of Manayunk with a cocktail party at Bourbon Blue. Guests enjoyed food samples from Manayunkâ€™s winning restaurants, drinks, and live entertainment with ticket proceeds benefiting Main Street beautification efforts.
Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 29
BEST OF MANAYUNK 2018
Best Place to Work
what they love about the neighborhood, which resulted in a colorful homage to our neighborhood at the intersection of Roxborough Avenue and Cresson Street.
Crossmedia is one of the newer media and advertising companies to set up in Manayunk. Crossmedia is an international media planning and buying agency, with over 150 dedicated Crossmedians with offices in New York, Philadelphia, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Barcelona. 4001 Main St #310, (267) 401-1660
Honorable Mention: Fountain Street Steps Mosaic
Honorable Mention: RichardsApex
The Animedic Veterinary Clinic believes in treating every patient as if they were their own pet, and giving them the same loving attention and care. They are a group of highly trained, experienced animal lovers who are devoted to giving their patients the best care possible. 102 Jamestown Ave (267) 297-7950
Best Innovative Business River City Outpost
River City Outpost is a market and slow-food cafe offering fresh produce, local dry goods, and provisions. Customers can sign up for their “Snack Sack” CSA, full of Pennsylvania produce and other goodies each week. 4412-14 Main St, (267) 712-9432
Best Place for Pet Care
The Animedic Veterinary Clinic
Honorable Mention: Top Tails Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
Honorable Mention: Manayunk iPhone Repair
Best Place to Take Your Kids for an Afternoon Pretzel Park
Pretzel Park is a beautiful park centrally located in Manayunk. With a farmers’ market, playground, and plenty of green space, it’s the perfect place for a family to spend an afternoon.
Honorable Mention: North Light Community Center
Best Public Art Installation
“I Love MNYK” Mural by Manayunk Residents/Splash Lab Arts The “I Love MNYK” mural was a collaboration between the Manayunk Development Corporation, Splash Lab Arts, and the people of Manayunk. During the first ever Manayunk Harvest Fest, residents and guests were encouraged to paint
Best New Shop/Salon/Business
Best Customer Service - Retail
Pilgrim Roasters imports their coffee beans from some of the best farms throughout the world. Roasted and brewed in small batches on site to ensure optimal flavor, Pilgrim Roasters is the place to be for your morning coffee. Find them at: 4120 Main St, (267) 331-5213
The Little Apple is your one-stop shop for unique home goods, accessories, cards, and more! With unbeatable customer service, The Little Apple is like a slice of home right here in Manayunk. 4361 Main St, (267) 335-4968
Honorable Mention: Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory 30
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The Little Apple
Honorable Mention: Philadelphia Runner
Best Place to Refresh Your Wardrobe Threads On Main
Turn your wardrobe around by shopping at Threads On Main, a chic boutique for women. With brands from Michael Stars to Velvet, stop by to find your next favorite pair of jeans, a great party dress, accessories, and everything in between! 4353 Main St, (215) 482-2917
Honorable Mention: LILA Fashion International
Best Place To Furnish Your Home Nadeau
Look no further than Nadeau for all of your furnishing needs. With unique handmade items at affordable prices, Nadeau is the best place to go to spruce up any room in the house. 4131 Main St, (215) 483-5095
Honorable Mention: Pineapple on Main
Best Place to Get a Host/Hostess Gift Pineapple on Main
Pineapple on Main is a home decor and gift boutique offering furnishings and gifts. From wine bottle openers, locally made stationary, and even wrapping paper, stop by this one-of-a-kind shop before your next party. 4347 Main St, (267) 437-4014
Honorable Mention: The Little Apple
Best Kid-Friendly Shop Worn Yesterday
Worn Yesterday offers gently used children’s and maternity clothing from top brands. This Main Street staple has been in Manayunk for over 30 years, so stop by for your next great outfit! 4228 Main St, (215) 482-3316
Honorable Mention: Latitudes & Longitudes
Best Pet-Friendly Business Latitudes & Longitudes
Latitudes & Longitudes features handcrafted jewelry, handbags, journals, greeting cards, and of course, goodies for your dogs and dog lovers alike. Bring your dog shopping with you, and make sure to grab a treat on your way out! 4325 Main St, (215) 482-0417
Honorable Mention: The Goat’s Beard
Best One-Of-A-Kind Shop
Best Place to Prep for the Big Day Nicole Miller - Philadelphia
Whether you’re looking for simple and sophisticated or want to “wow” your guests with beads and lace, Nicole Miller - Philadelphia can make your dress dreams come true. Stop by the second floor bridal suite for the ultimate wedding dress. 4249 Main St, (215) 930-0307
Honorable Mention: Gary Mann Jewelers
Best Place to Get Pampered Salon L
Salon L’s talented team of stylists have one goal in mind: to send their customers home looking and feeling their best. From cuts and colors to their full service spa, head to Salon L for all of your pampering needs. 4120 Main St, (215) 483-2500
Honorable Mention: Art + Science
Su-Shan Lai (Starshine Salon) Su-Shan’s decades of experience in styling and cosmetology makes her stand above the rest. She ensures every experience is super personalized by getting to know each of her 1,000+ customers in her tiny salon tucked away on Grape Street. 111 Grape St, (215) 483-8180)
Honorable Mention: Artur Kirsh (Artur Kirsh Salon)
Main Street Music
Main Street Music is an independent record store and gathering place for music lovers. Stop by for your next vinyl or CD purchase, and stick around for the occasional live in-store performances from locally and nationally known acts. 4444 Main St, (215) 487-7732
John Loftus (Make Your Mark Barbershop) Make Your Mark is the perfect mix of conventional and modern day barbershops. John makes each experience exceptional with his easy-going personality, along with his talents with a blade and scissors. 4257 Main St, (267) 335-5400
Honorable Mention: Hidden River Yams
Honorable Mention: Tara Acosta (Sulimay’s on Main)
Best Place to Buy Happiness
Best Place to Get Blinged Out
Escape your normal life and get sucked into the pages of a good book. Catering to children and adults alike, this is the perfect spot to pick up your next read. And, don’t forget to say, “Hi,” to Amelia the cat while you’re there! 112 Cotton St, (215) 482-0704
Bendi Jewelers carries jewelry that can’t be found anywhere else. Owner, Sami Nakishbendi, makes custom designs by getting to know his customers through one-on-one consultations. 4339 Main St, (215) 508-5220
The Spiral Bookcase
Honorable Mention: Smoke Manayunk- Cigar & Hookah Lounge
Honorable Mentions: Remix on Main
Best Place to Start your Art Collection Orbit Art Gallery
Orbit Art Gallery is your one-stop-shop for all things art, from prints to glassblown figures and custom framing. Orbit offers a wide variety of different art pieces, locally and globally. 4312 Main St, (215) 508-6728
Honorable Mention: Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 31
Best New Restaurant
Chris Pelusi (Lucky’s Last Chance)
SOMO has quickly become a Main Street favorite featuring classic comfort food, hand-crafted cocktails and a lengthy beer list. Interior designer and new restaurateur, James Morrissey, created a cozy and chic atmosphere that will keep you coming back for more. 4311 Main St, (215) 297-6668
Chris began bartending eight years ago after he left his role as a drummer in a traveling band. Now a manager at Lucky’s Last Chance, Chris’s extraordinary knowledge and connection with customers is what makes him a Manayunk favorite. 4421 Main St, (215) 509-6005
Honorable Mention: The Spicy Belly
Honorable Mention: Tim Vogel (The Goat’s Beard)
Best Customer Service - Food Service
Lucky’s Last Chance is known for their signature burgers and eclectic vibe, but also for their welcoming staff and servers. The delicious food, drinks, and knowledgeable staff makes Lucky’s Last Chance a Manayunk go-to. 4421 Main St, (215) 509-6005
Meg has served hungry customers at Greg’s Kitchen for three years. Meg’s casual personality and “take charge” work ethic makes her a favorite among brunch-goers. 4460 Main St, (215) 482-4734
Lucky’s Last Chance
Honorable Mention: Taqueria Feliz
Best Place to People Watch While Dining Manayunk Tavern
Situated on the corner of Main and Rector Streets, Manayunk Tavern is the perfect spot to enjoy classic pub food and a craft beer. Be sure to snag a seat outside when the weather is warm for the ultimate people watching experience! 4247 Main St, (267) 335-2121
Honorable Mention: Winnie’s Manayunk
Best Family-Friendly Dining Manayunk Brewing Company
Manayunk Brewing Company’s expansive food menu truly has something for everyone. Featuring fresh and locally sourced goods to a wide range of craft beer and one of the largest outdoor dining areas in Philadelphia, you’ll want to bring the whole family down for dinner! 4120 Main St, (215) 482-8220
Honorable Mention: The Couch Tomato
Best Lunch Spot
The Couch Tomato
Meg Kyle (Greg’s Kitchen)
Honorable Mention: Brian O’Donnell (Lucky’s Last Chance)
Best Main Street Dish
PB&J Bacon Burger (Lucky’s Last Chance) Lucky’s Last Chances’ award-winning PB&J Bacon Burger mixes a childhood favorite with an adult twist that is unexpectedly delicious. This burger has won more than one city-wide award during its time on the menu! 4421 Main St, (215) 509-6005.
Honorable Mention: Dan Dan Noodles (Han Dynasty)
Best Signature Sandwich
Filet Tip Sandwich (Bourbon Blue) Bourbon Blue has a menu full of delicious options but the coveted Filet Tip Sandwich is one you won’t forget! Accompanied by one of their specialty beers or cocktails, this could be any meat lover’s favorite meal. 2 Rector St, (215) 508-3360
Honorable Mention: Cheesesteak (The Tent at Chloe’s Corner)
Best Brunch Dish
Brekky Bowl (Greg’s Kitchen)
Serving fresh, local, and organic food, The Couch Tomato takes pride in producing excellent food! Try their classic tomato bisque/grilled cheese combo or a signature salad for a perfect mid-day meal. 102 Rector St (215) 483-2233
Greg’s Kitchen is a cozy spot to relax and indulge in some classic comfort brunch foods. The Brekky Bowl is a customer favorite for obvious reasons — scrambled eggs, meat, and cheese, layered on top of tater tots! 4460 Main St, (215) 482-4734
Honorable Mention: Winnie’s Manayunk
Honorable Mention: Crab Cake Eggs Benedict (Bourbon Blue)
Best Healthy Menu Item
Moon Krapugthong - Chabaa Thai Bistro, Binto Market & Cafe, and Yanako Chef Moon Krapugthong is a talented and well-respected chef known for running three of Manayunk’s staple restaurants. From classic Thai to one-of-a-kind sushi rolls, Chef Moon knows exactly how to please her customers — and keep their stomachs full! Chabaa Thai Bistro: 4343 Main St, (215) 483-1979, Binto Market & Cafe: 4345 Main St, (267) 297-8764, Yanako: 4255 Main St, (267) 297-8151
Honorable Mention: Joel Romano (The Goat’s Beard) 32
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Açaí Bowl (Boostin’ Bowls) Always prepared with fresh ingredients and a variety of topping choices, Boostin’ Bowls Açaí Bowls are one to try. With flavor combinations like banana split and the “monkey” bowl, this superfruit will have you thinking you’re eating dessert! 100 Levering St, (276) 331-8974
Honorable Mention: Evolution of Alchemy (The Juice Merchant)
and highest quality ingredients for their dishes. Combined with their inviting and friendly atmosphere, Chabaa Thai will undoubtedly be an unforgettable dining experience. 4343 Main St, (215) 483-1979
Honorable Mention: Yanako
Best Mexican Cuisine Taqueria Feliz
Taqueria Feliz offers a classic and vibrant Mexican-inspired dining experience, featuring an assortment of traditional and signature dishes. Their array of tacos, guacamoles, and enchiladas are made with fresh and high-quality ingredients. 4410 Main St. (267) 331-5874
Honorable Mention: Adobe Cafe
Best Bar Snack Best Place/Dish to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Belgian Waffle Sundae (Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory)
Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory specializes in ice cream and toppings made on site. Their Belgian waffles are made from scratch and served hot with ice cream piled on top. 4369 Main St, (267) 423-4376
Honorable Mention: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookie (Insomnia Cookies)
Best Place to Share a Romantic Dinner Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar
Suicide Wings (Union Tap House) Considered to be some of the best wings in Philadelphia, Union Tap House’s suicide wings are for the brave and the ultimate lovers of spice! Try the suicide sauce or the 20+ other wing sauces offered. 4801 Umbria St, (215) 482-8980
Honorable Mention: Goat Nuggets (The Goat’s Beard)
Best Happy Hour Taqueria Feliz
The atmosphere and drink selections at Taqueria Feliz make for the perfect happy hour location. Monday through Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m., take advantage of their featured specialty cocktails and margaritas, tacos, and nachos! 4410 Main St. (267) 331-5874
Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar has the perfect elegant atmosphere and menu selection for a romantic date night. From wine tastings to designer pizzas and small plates, their menu is diverse and gives a great range of options for anyone’s desires. 4365 Main St, (215) 483-0444
Honorable Mention: JD McGillicuddy’s
Honorable Mention: SOMO Manayunk
On a Friday night, there’s no better to place to head than the brewery to sip on few of their house beers. Try one of their staples, like the Monk From the Yunk, or “drink” outside the box with a more adventurous flavor combination like French Toast Crunch Porter. 4120 Main St, (215) 482-8220.
Best Counter Service Marchiano’s Bakery
Best Craft Beer Selection
Manayunk Brewing Company
Marchiano’s Bakery opened its doors in 1984 and has satisfied customers with their delicious creations ever since. With everything done the old-fashioned way, you experience the tradition and the great pride they take in creating their classic tomato pie, specialty breads, and oreganata. 4653 Umbria St, (215) 483-8585
Honorable Mention: Pitchers Pub
Honorable Mention: Deke’s BBQ
Known for their craft cocktails, The Goat’s Beard is the ideal spot for anyone looking for great food and drinks. Pick from their “Whiskey Bible” or try a customer favorite, the “Friendly Neighbor.” 4201 Main St, (267) 323-2495
Best Cup ‘o Joe
Volo Coffeehouse Volo Coffeehouse is an aesthetically pleasing, quaint cafe providing La Colombe coffee and other specialty coffee drinks. Sit and stay a while in the cafe or grab some joe to go. 4360 Main St, (215) 483-4580
Honorable Mention: Pilgrim Roasters
Best Delivery to Enjoy from the Comfort of Your Own Home Franzone’s Pizzeria
Since 1955, Franzone’s has been a pizza tradition in the Philadelphia area, but just a few years ago, Charles Franzone III continued his family’s tradition by opening up a shop in Manayunk. Franzone’s has a signature sauce that will keep you coming back for more.114 Levering St, (215) 508-1050
Honorable Mention: Laxmi’s Indian Grille
Best Asian Cuisine Chabaa Thai Bistro
Best Spirits to Lift Your Spirit The Goat’s Beard
Honorable Mention: Craft Manayunk
Best Place to Enjoy a Glass of Wine Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar
For nearly 30 years, Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar has strived to provide a quality menu and a diverse, yet affordable wine list. Owner, Bruce, and his staff are wine connoisseurs and can help you pick the best glass to compliment every item on the menu. 4365 Main St, (215) 483-0444.
Honorable Mention: Bourbon Blue
Best Place to Watch the Game Pitchers Pub
Walk into Pitcher’s Pub and you’ll know why it’s the best place to watch the game. With the walls lined with TVs, an extensive beer list, and delicious bar snacks, Pitchers Pub will be the place you want to cheer on your favorite team. 4326 Main St, (215) 487-1370
Honorable Mention: A.G. Jameson’s U.S. Hotel Bar and Grill
Chabaa Thai strives to serve authentic Thai cuisine and only uses the freshest Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 33
Best New Workout
Bardio Sculpt (The Wall Cycling Studio)
Traditional barre meets H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training) for this sweat-inducing class! Stretch and tone while training interval style with mountain climbers, jump squats, burpees and much more. 107 Cotton St, (267) 336-7928
Honorable Mention: Fusion: Dynamic Hot Vinyasa (JTown Hot Yoga)
Best Calorie Killer Workout Boxing Fitness (Joltin’ Jabs)
Manayunk native, Joltin’ Joey DeMalavez, committed his life to promoting fitness after he finished his professional boxing career in 2007. Joltin’ Jabs boxing classes will push you beyond your limits and excel you towards your fitness goals. 4303 Main St, (610) 256-5789
Honorable Mention: Bootcamp (GoalsFit); Hot HIIT (JTown Hot Yoga)
Studio that will get you sweating and wanting to come back for more! Her motivation and drive to help you succeed with your goals makes her a favorite in Manayunk. 107 Cotton St, (267) 336-7928
Honorable Mention: Carl Flotka (Never Give Up Training)
Best Place to Take a Visitor Chew Philly Food Tours
Get to know Manayunk with a tour of the best food it has to offer. Guided by tour leaders who are knowledgeable and passionate about the local businesses and restaurants, Chew Philly Food Tours will let you experience eight tastings within Manayunk to immerse you and your guests into the culture of our food and history. (215) 600-4891
Honorable Mention: Manayunk Chambers Guest House
Best Place to Get Your Groove On The Grape Room
Best Trainer That Kicks Your Butt
Juliet Sabella (The Wall Cycling Studio)
The Grape Room’s fun atmosphere and wide variety of local talent gives visitors an entertaining experience six nights a week. The venue is just steps from Main Street with live music, open mics, and comedy nights. 105 Grape St, (215) 930-0321.
Owner and trainer, Juliet Sabella, teaches a range of classes at The Wall Cycling
Honorable Mention: Dawson Street Pub
Best Manayunk Superhero
Best Shop Pet
Irene Madrak is the executive director of North Light Community Center. Not only does she run a successful nonprofit for children and families, but she stands up for community issues and remains involved in numerous neighborhood groups.
The Spiral Bookcase’s mascot had a rough start on the streets of Manayunk, but now calls the cozy bookstore home. Amelia’s daily duties include greeting guests with head butts and purrs, snuggling in the reading room, and being adored by everyone she meets. 112 Cotton St, (215) 482-0704
Honorable Mention: Dave Scarpello
Best Place to Live
The Isle Apartments Manayunk’s newest apartment complex has every amenity you can imagine. This pet-friendly community has its own fitness room, a club room with views of the Schuylkill River, and even Starbucks coffee on site. 1 Cotton St, (484) 403-4396
Honorable Mention: Canal House Apartments
Best Community-Oriented Group/Business Friends of Pretzel Park
Friends of Pretzel Park is a coalition of local groups and park advocates, including the Manayunk Neighborhood Council. The group is responsible for upkeep in the park, park programming, and the annual farmers’ market.
Honorable Mention: North Light Community Center
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Amelia (The Spiral Bookcase)
Honorable Mention: General Gazpacho (Millay)
Best Place to Snap a Pic for Instagram Pretzel Park Dog Run
What has four legs, likes to roll around in dirt, and has the cutest face you’ve ever seen? Pretty much every dog you’ve ever Instagramed at the Pretzel Park Dog Run! You won’t want to miss the many mutts you can find at all times of the day. Your Instagram followers will thank you.
Honorable Mention: Your Favorite Manayunk Restaurant
EDITORS’ CHOICE Manayunk Leadership Award David Richards, RichardsApex
David Richards has been a leader in Manayunk for over 25 years. He has worked tirelessly with his brother to run their family’s business, RichardsApex, for nearly three decades. In addition, David has been the board president of the Manayunk Development Corporation for the last two years, and has also sat on the Manayunk Special Services District’s board and the Manayunk Parking Committee. He has lead the leadership team to decisions to better the district, and has represented our small business community throughout the years.
Main Street Ambassador
Lisa Gdowik, LILA Fashion International This past holiday season, Main Street was lit up with new lights and festive garland. The idea to make Manayunk a “Winter Wonderland” came from Lisa Gdowik, co-owner of LILA Fashion International. Lisa lead the charge and reworked Manayunk’s holiday marketing efforts to ensure the holiday season was enjoyable for all who shopped on Main Street. She continues to bring new ideas and retail-centric events to the table to ensure Manayunk is a go-to destination.
Lifetime Service Award
Joan Denenberg, Manayunk Development Corporation Joan Denenberg has consulted for Manayunk for almost 30 years, lending her experience in retail marketing, strategy, and recruitment. Her extensive background in shopping center and small town district marketing has led Manayunk’s marketing growth over the past three decades. Today, she oversees marketing planning, media buying, event sponsorship, and more. She’s also often seen helping on most event days, especially during the Manayunk Arts Festival, which Joan’s own mother, Barbara Boroff, founded 29 years ago.
Main Street Beautification Award
District Visionary Award
Dana Dabek, North Light Community Center; Joe Gidjunis, JPG Photography When the strategic planning process began, the Manayunk Development Corporation board was looking for leaders to step up to head the committee, and Dana and Joe didn’t hesitate. Dana brings her experience as the Director of Institutional Advancement for North Light Community Center and Joe brings his knowledge from running his successful business, JPG Photography. Both Dana and Joe have volunteered and served on boards for other nonprofits and bring a wealth of knowledge to the strategic planning vision.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Terry Leahy, TerryLeahyFilms More than two years ago, new Manayunk resident, Terry Leahy, came to Manayunk.com with a new idea — a biweekly web series to promote the Manayunk district. Now three seasons in, Manayunk Mornings has become a major marketing success, and it’s all thanks to the man behind the camera. Terry films and directs all 20+ episodes a season. In addition, he provides the red carpet interviews during the Best of Manayunk cocktail party, and is often seen filming all of Manayunk’s major events.
Helping Hands Award
Mark Snyder, Quality Window Cleaning Mark Snyder has been cleaning the windows of Manayunk businesses for over 30 years. He’s more than just “Mark the Window Guy,” though. Aside from ensuring all of Main Street’s windows are squeaky clean, Mark has helped many business owners move furniture, change light bulbs, and even monitor parking meters so no one gets a ticket. He can often be found cracking jokes or reading his poetry while he wipes dirt and fingerprints away. We can’t thank Mark enough for always making Manayunk sparkle— with his smile and his impeccable cleaning skills!
Barry Odyniec, Manayunk Development Corporation Barry Odyniec, lovingly known as “the flower guy,” has done odd jobs around the Manayunk district for many years. In the summer months is when we see him the most, driving around the Manayunk truck with a tank full of water to make sure every tree and rose bush makes it through another hot summer. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 35
DINE Best Lunch Spot
The Couch Tomato By Noel Bartocci Photography by JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
estled into the corner of Main and Rector Streets in Manayunk, The Couch Tomato has been a culinary staple in town since 2003. Even more impressive than their longevity in our community has been their perceptual ability to keep the menu fresh (pun intended). Their mission has always been to provide organic, hormone and antibiotic free, and an overall “natural” product whenever possible. However, what has truly kept them in the game has been their flexibility with evolving their menu combined with an unmatched customer service — from date night to a quick bite. Their mission has provided a sturdy foundation for success, one The Couch Tomato has built upon steadily and consistently to the point where we are still celebrating their excellence 15 years later. It really all comes down to one word — “quality.” “We’re constantly striving to source more local, organic, and clean ingredients,” Kristina Petrick, one of the on-point managers at the restaurant, explains. “We’re committed to having the best for our customers.” The Couch Tomato exhibits its meal flexibility by offering a consistently rotating selection of soups, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas — some perennial and some seasonal — all of which help bolster the steadfast reliability of their everyday menu. It really is the best of all worlds — comfort as well as spontaneous surprises. “We’re always listening to feedback and try to support our customers,” Kristina said. “We have one regular in particular who was dying for Chipotle Crab Chowder.” For those unaware, Chipotle Crab Chowder is one of The Couch Tomato’s more popular seasonal chowders. I don’t feel bad inserting my opinion that it’s freaking delicious. Kristina continued, “He would ask all the time, but it just wasn’t quite the season yet for all the ingredients. He would say, ‘If you have it, I’ll order three at least three times a week.’” A few days later, the restaurant reached out to let him know it was on the menu. This is not the first time that Manayunk Magazine has afforded attention towards The Couch Tomato, but in the past, we’ve done so for different reasons. This year, the townspeople of Manayunk wanted to specifically praise The Couch Tomato as the Best Lunch Spot. So let’s talk a little about lunch! For me, lunch is arguably the most undefined meal of the day. Breakfast and dinner come with preconceived notions as to what should be served, whereas the nebulous nature of lunch sometimes lends itself to uncertainty or indecision. What’s the best thing to eat in the middle of the afternoon that puts many other spots at a disadvantage, besides The Couch Tomato? Some patrons would say soup, some a salad or sandwich, while others would just go straight to a slice or two of pizza made on organic crust. What makes The Couch Tomato the perfect place for the middle meal is its inherently flexible menu and on the fly ability to modify — they serve it all, how you like it, and fast. But before the lunch
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rush even occurs, they’re hustling behind the scenes to get stuff done. A typical morning at The Couch Tomato consists of satiating catering crowds before noon rolls around. “We start the morning with catering and taking customer orders. Before we even open, we’re feeding hundreds of people,” Kristina explains, detailing the lead up to the midday rush. Also included in the morning routine is unloading the fresh components delivered directly to the store. Anyone walking down Main Street in the AM hours has likely seen the staff unloading palettes of ingredients as needed. If anything, it illustrates their commitment to fresh and local components for all their dishes. That commitment extends to how they intend to evolve their offerings in 2018. “We listen to every comment and every request. Just this year, we’re making a concerted effort to have even more vegan options,” Kristina excitedly relayed. Now, that doesn’t mean eliminating other non-vegan dishes, but what it does mean is making sure the menu maintains quality and adds even more inclusivity. Dietary restrictions and preferences are not trends to chase for The Couch Tomato, but simply new opportunities to continue a conversation with their customers — conversation that includes reward. Another popular aspect of their business is the Tomato Points program — an effort to tangibly give back to repeat customers. Quickly summarized, for every dollar spent, you get a point. For every 100 points earned, you receive $10 towards your next meal. There are other incentives for those diehards who, over time, will reach well beyond 1,000 points (items like an official The Couch Tomato tee so you can rep your favorite restaurant). While it sounds insurmountable to reach that many points, it’s something that passively collects over time. Just let those points collect while you’re enjoying delicious meals. That’s a win/win situation. Couch (as we locals have short-handed it) is a Manayunk mainstay. Like other things that are consistently good, it’s easy to take for granted just how clutch they’ve always been. The Couch Tomato is and will remain an ever-present option for whatever lunch (or dinner) questions ail you, regardless of if you’re there every day or haven’t been in some time (if that’s the case, consider this your official reminder). Whether it’s your first, quickest, easiest, or last option for lunch, chances are, you won’t walk away dissatisfied.
DINE Best Bartender
(Lucky’s Last Chance) By Leo Dillinger Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
hat separates ordinary bartenders from the extraordinary? Is it the perfect pour of a craft beer or a flawlessly constructed cocktail? For Chris Pelusi of Lucky’s Last Chance, it all comes down to patron engagement. Chris immediately gets his customers’ attention as soon as they enter the bar. And if his physical presence doesn’t capture the customer at first, his larger-than-life personality is bound to get the job done. From greeting new customers with a warm welcome to messing around with his regulars, Chris is truly worth the price of admission. “Something I always teach our new bartenders is ‘Eyes Up Bartending,’” Chris said. “Whenever you go to a bar and your server’s eyes are down, they’re not focusing on the customers. It’s just about acknowledging your customer and letting them know you know they are there, even if you’re busy. That’s definitely how you get a repeat customer.” Chris started his bartending career eight years ago, one year before Yunkers Pub changed hands to become Lucky’s Last Chance. At the time, Chris had just left his role as a drummer in a traveling band and was looking to take on a couple of nights each week to earn some supplemental income. Once Lucky’s Last Chance owner, Chris Barnes, and his partners bought the business and began the transition, they decided to keep Chris on the team. Since then, Chris has served thousands of customers, eventually became a manager, and has grown with the business ever since. “To me, what makes Chris so great is that he’s able to relate to everyone who walks through that door. He treats them like family walking into his house,” owner Chris Barnes said. “We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today without having Chris on our team. He really sets the tone for everyone on the staff.” One of the greatest challenges for any food business is the loss of regulars due to everyday circumstances. Some move away from the area. Others get married and start having kids. Some start new diets. This is why Chris Pelusi and the rest of the Lucky’s Last Chance crew always seek to accommodate new customers in an effort to make them potential regulars. For Chris, this means making solid recommendations from the bar’s food and drink menus. Because he handles the beer and spirit buying for Lucky’s Last Chance, Chris gets the insider knowledge on different products from account representatives. This helps him talk to customers in an educated way about particular beers and cocktails. Chris said if you ask the right ques38
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tions and determine their needs, the customers eventually answer what they want to drink for themselves. And if you ask for food recommendations, Chris will tell you his personal (and cheesy) favorites on each part of the menu without hesitation: Incomparable Bacon Cheddar Burger, Cheese Amigos Fries, Jalapeno Cheese Tots, Cajun Chicken Mak & Cheese, and Sausage Gravy & Biscuits for brunch. “The easiest part of the job is definitely the customer interaction, even when there are new customers who’ve never been here before,” Chris said. “It’s very easy for us to win them over. I try not to take the job too seriously because we’re not saving the world or anything. We’re just selling hamburgers and beer.” Two questions that I just had to ask Manayunk’s Best Bartender were 1.) If you could make a drink for one celebrity, who would it be? and 2.) What is your favorite drink to make/drink? As expected, Chris’s answers reflected his jocular personality. His first answer was that he’d “make” a Yuengling Lager bottle for one of his favorite neighborhood bartenders, Joe from Manayunk Tavern (whom Chris actually voted for in this category). As for the second question, Chris’s favorite drink is one of America’s oldest cocktails with a pre-Civil War New Orleans origin: The Sazerac. “It’s definitely my favorite cocktail to make and it’s definitely my favorite cocktail to drink,” Chris said. “It’s also how I gauge a bar when I go out. If they shake my Sazerac or shake my Manhattan, I’m going to have an issue with it. Am I going to drink it and not tip them? Of course I’m going to drink it and tip them. But repeat business will be held to a higher regard.” Chris likes to think that Lucky’s Last Chance emulates the bigger picture by playing an active role in the community. The staff not only wants Lucky’s Last Chance to be successful, but they want to see the rest of the neighborhood succeed, which is why they support other local businesses like Manayunk Tavern, Taqueria Feliz, Cresson Inn, and Bourbon Blue. Chris also mentioned the importance of giving back to the community by hosting fundraisers and events for local nonprofits including PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society), North Light Community Center, and more. After eight years of working behind the bar at 4421 Main Street, I had to ask Chris if he had any plans on leaving. Upon hearing the question, he smiled and straightforwardly stated, “I would’ve left eight years ago if I didn’t like it. I like who I work for and I like who I work with. It’s as simple as that.”
DINE Best Server
(Greg’s Kitchen) By Ainsley Maloney Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
he timing could not have been more perfect. One random Friday three years ago, Meg Kyle was strolling up and down Main Street looking for open server positions. She’d just left her job at a catering company and was hoping to find a new waitressing gig in Manayunk. No luck. Then, she passed a tiny cafe near the Manayunk Bridge called Greg’s Kitchen and, despite not seeing a “Help Wanted” sign, she popped in and asked if they were looking for help. “Actually, yeah!” owner, Greg Gillin, replied, not believing his luck. His head server was on her next-to-last day and he had no backup plan. Greg asked Meg to come back the next morning, and after a quick exchange of sarcastic banter, hired her on the spot. Meg trained with the server on her final day, and she’s worked full-time at Greg’s Kitchen ever since. Meg, now 23, said she fell in love with the “super cute, super intimate” breakfast cafe, located near the corner of Main Street and Green Lane. “I call her the ‘Real Boss,’” Greg said. While he’s behind the counter cooking, he trusts she’s out front running everything smoothly. “She’s a real take-charge kind of person,” Greg said. “I have enough on my plate; she takes the reins on things so I don’t have to.” As the restaurant has grown in popularity, Meg has recommended four new hires (Meg’s sister, friends, and friends of friends). She’s pitched better ways to organize the cafe — which Greg said can be a juggling match, given its size — to enhance the flow of customer traffic. “Meg has that personality of, ‘We [the servers] are the ones who work on this side of the shop so this is how it should be,’” Greg said. “She knows I trust her. She always wants to find ways to make this place better. As long as it makes sense, I’m usually like, ‘OK cool, let’s do it!’” It’s this casual, laid-back atmosphere Meg loves most about working at Greg’s Kitchen. “Greg lets us be ourselves,” she said. “We’re always joking with each other. It’s very casual, fun. Also, the menu is extremely adjustable, which I appreciate. There’s not a single thing we can’t do, which is pretty cool.” When guests come in, she recommends they start with the specials or Robin’s sticker menu items, designating customer favorites. Her favorite special is the Sloppy Brekky. “I’d say 98 percent of the people I encounter at Greg’s are pretty cool,” Meg said. “There are about 10 groups that come in regularly, and they’re just awesome. They know what’s going on in my life, I know what’s going on in theirs. We check up on each other. It’s casual, so you can banter with people, joke around, while still showing them respect. And they give it back to you 98 percent of the time.”
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What’s with the 98 percent, Meg? Laughing, she explained that the other two percent happens when you take a very tiny, very popular breakfast cafe and mix in a bunch of hangry customers who just discovered there’s a one-hour wait. And on weekends, there’s always a wait. “I liken Meg to an Air Traffic Controller,” Greg said. “She deals with the customers extremely well. She tells them not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear to keep the flow in and out running smoothly.” When there’s a wait, Meg jots down a patron’s phone number to text when their table’s ready. Then, she switches hats from server to concierge. Reading the group’s mood, she’ll recommend ways they can explore the neighborhood in the meantime. “I’ll tell them they can hang out next door in the comic book shop, Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex, or across the street in SMoKE,” she said. “If it’s a longer wait, I’ll suggest they go to Volo [Coffeehouse] for coffee, or walk the Manayunk Bridge, which is a really cool way to see all of Main Street at one time. Or I’ll suggest that they shop in some of the cute stores like Millay or The Little Apple. There’s so much to do in Manayunk!” If, on the other hand, Meg gets the vibe the customer doesn’t want to wait at all, she works her magic to ensure they still walk away from Greg’s Kitchen happy. “I can tell when a customer wants breakfast right now,” she said. “So I tell them, ‘OK, this isn’t the place for you. There are other awesome brunch places right down the street — Lucky’s [Last Chance] and Taqueria Feliz — that have great food, are very friendly, and are reasonably priced. You should go there.” Greg appreciates her straightforward approach. A happy customer is a returning customer, even if Greg doesn’t get their business that day. “Meg is a very get-to-the point person,” Greg siad. “And I think our customers really appreciate that.” Meg loves that she can walk 15 minutes to work down the quiet, peaceful towpath every day. She recently started a small floral business, Shadow Garden, on the side, but she plans to stay at Greg’s Kitchen for as long as he’ll keep her. “The best part of working here is definitely the people,” she said. “The weekends are always a bit of a juggling game, but I never do it alone, thanks to my co-workers who are all my good friends. Since working as a florist, a lot of my responsibilities have shifted to Kristine, who is truly one of the nicest people I know. Then there’s Greg. He’s a super fun dude, and my regulars who, when I see, I actually get excited. I just so appreciate everyone that comes in.”
“Where you are treated better than family.”
5 STA R R AT ED
Fine Homemade Pastries
At Manayunk Chambers you will... Rest Assured.
BOOK O NLINE MA NAY U NK C H AMBERS.COM
168 GAY S TREET P H I L AD ELPHIA, PA 19127
DINE Best Healthy Menu Item
(Boostin’ Bowls) By Rachel Jenkins Photography by JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
hat are the ingredients that make up an ideal healthy menu and can get Manayunk talking? For Boostin’ Bowls owner, Jenna Cardello, it was a new passion, a leap of faith, and one very super fruit. A year ago, Jenna was a fairly new Manayunk resident with no previous experience owning a business. As a young professional, she recognized a common struggle among her peers to eat healthy while juggling an overloaded lifestyle. Though Jenna had gone to school for marketing and human resource management, she found an unexpected inspiration for her career in a funny-sounding super fruit taking over social media: the açaí berry (pronounced ah-sah-EE). Originating in the warmer climates of Brazil, açaí is a sweet, dark blue berry that grows on a palm tree, and has been hailed as a super fruit by west coast celebrities and health enthusiasts. “It has a lot of health benefits — antioxidants, it’s good for your heart, it’s good for weight loss, it’s good for your skin, your digestive system — all kinds of good stuff,” Jenna said. Since she opened the doors to Boostin’ Bowls at 100 Levering Street in September 2017, Manayunk has been buzzing about the berry, too. As a town on the go, this district knows eating healthy can require time that many of us don’t have. Jenna’s mission for her shop is to create fruit bowls based on the benefits of açaí — a quick but nutritious option for busy professionals. To create each bowl, Jenna starts with açaí juice blended with a banana base thickener and crushed ice. Next, she adds only fresh produce from the Philadelphia area to boost the base. Then, comes the fun part: thinking up an exciting menu with a mix of healthy flavors and guilty pleasures. A few crowd-pleasers are the Boostin’ Bowl (blueberries, strawberries, and granola), the Monkey Bowl (banana, chocolate chips, and granola; named after her lovable shop pup), and her versatile fruit smoothies. Boostin’ Bowls customers can also get creative and build their own bowl to fit their taste. “Sometimes, I have people recommend things to me or they will make their own bowl and I’ll think, ‘That sounds pretty cool,’” Jenna said. “It’s a lot of trial and error.” Like the fresh fruit in her signature bowls, Jenna’s menu is highly seasonal. In her six months of business, she’s learned to adapt her offerings based on the public mood as temperatures change throughout the year. Back in September when the store first opened, the menu was still focused on lighter fruit bowls and fresh salads. As winter approached, Jenna expanded the menu to include hearty oatmeal bowls, bagels, and 42
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‘Power Toast’ specials like Avocado or Banana Peanut Butter. It’s all about what packs a nutritional punch, but still hits the spot. Jenna’s trendy menu has its fair share of local fans, but her biggest cheerleaders are her parents — especially her mother and business partner, Kathy. Before she opened Boostin’ Bowls, Jenna’s family was nervous for her to dive into a business venture with no experience in the industry. Surrounding the “long six months” before her grand opening, Jenna worked hard to create an effective business plan. The end result impressed her parents so much that Kathy wanted to take the risk along with her daughter. Now, she’s become Jenna’s closest partner and menu confidant. “Sometimes with family, it can be tricky, but with my mom it’s not,” Jenna said. “My go-to taste testers are my mom, my roommates, and my friends up at Franzone’s.” Much is yet to come for Boostin’ Bowls in 2018. With warmer months ahead, Jenna has plans to introduce more warm weather-inspired fruit bowls featuring tropical ingredients like pineapple and mango. Smoothie devotees can stay tuned for new combos. Jenna also hopes to start adding more homemade elements to her bowls and collaborate with other like-minded entrepreneurs who strive to make healthy food accessible — and with love. It may have gone viral on the west coast, but it’s clear that back east, Manayunk has taken to the açaí berry — and Jenna. In less than a year, her first business has been met with warmth and success, and she’s gained loyal customers and neighborhood friends. Plus, Jenna’s açaí bowls are as pretty as a picture. “I feel extremely grateful that I have such a supportive community. I never in a million years thought that I would open my own business in Manayunk,” she said, “It’s flattering that people have supported me in such a short time.” Jenna’s popular bowls and her win for Best Healthy Menu Item are a testament to her growth and adaptability as a business owner, and her readiness to connect with neighborhood customers. She’s brought her passion for nutrition and the açaí berry into the limelight, and it’s changed the local conversation about how healthy food can be made easy. Now, Manayunk is a place Jenna and the demystified açaí berry can proudly call home. “If there was going to be a place to open an açaí and smoothie place, this would be it,” Jenna said. “I just really felt like this was the place I was supposed to be.”
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DINE Best Place to Watch the Game
Pitchers Pub By Brian Anderson Photography by JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
t’s a chilly Wednesday night in January, and all five TVs are tuned in to show the 76ers face off against the Chicago Bulls. Both teams have struggled this season and neither sits atop of the standings. Despite being the only Philadelphia sports team in action tonight, there isn’t a single seat left at the bar at Pitchers Pub. A dozen or so people sit at the stainless steel bar, and more post up on stools against the back wall. There’s talk of the beers on tap, chatter about prop bets and the Vegas line on the Sixers, and laughter over a meme of the Eagles’ recent pummeling of the Minnesota Vikings. Everyone is still high on Eagles euphoria — imagine this bar on a Sunday afternoon. Old-school, kelly green Eagles memorabilia and classic Phillies gear hangs on the wall opposite the bar. When Joel Embiid forces up a bad shot, half of the bar groans in disgust. When he sinks one later, the fans breathe a sigh of relief. Welcome, Philly sports fans, to the Best Place to Watch the Game in Manayunk. “We’re always open,” says Pitchers Pub bartender and manager, Kyle Reed, to a guest seated at the bar. “We’ll show anything on TV that’s sports-related. We’re just big sports fans here.” Kyle, who grew up in South Jersey, is a die-hard fan of all Philadelphia sports teams (he has season tickets to the 76ers and Eagles, and attended Super Bowl LII). He said while every Philly team has had its ups and downs in recent years, the fans remained loyal to the core. He’s seen that passion first-hand as a manager/bartender at Pitchers Pub for the past 12 years. “It’s a different city when the Phillies are good, when the Eagles are good, when the Sixers and Flyers are good,” he said. “Philadelphia is a great sports city. We like a winner.” In a town with six professional sports teams, there’s always an opportunity to catch a game at Pitchers Pub. Football Sundays and the Birds draw the biggest crowds, Kyle said, but every season brings a different breed of fans; 1 p.m. Phillies games bring in the early risers, for example, and college football brings in fans of schools from coast to coast.
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Even if the local teams have the night off, Pitchers Pub shows the best matchups any given day. “We show a lot of English Premier League games, too,” he said. “We’ll open for a group that wants to watch their Premier League team.” But Pitchers Pub really comes alive when a special team — this year’s Eagles and the 2008 Phillies, for example — is on TV, Kyle said. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds fill this narrow space. “It’s an awesome atmosphere when the Philly sports teams are good,” Kyle said. “People come out every night and watch every game.” Throughout the first half of the 76ers game, Kyle and another bartender sling drinks and serve up wings and burgers. Pitchers Pub, of course, has a classic menu perfect for a game — wings, sandwiches, fries and other munchies. But Pitchers Pub goes beyond the game-time classics, as the kitchen has been known to pump out specials such as shrimp and grits, lobster mac ‘n cheese, calamari, and cheese curds. Pitchers Pub has evolved under Kyle’s leadership, too. It’s upgraded from 20 taps to 30, which means the beer selection is always rotating. Craft beer drinkers expect an extensive and dynamic tap list, and Kyle said he’s more than willing to satisfy that thirst. So while a lager or pilsner may be ideal for an afternoon of Phillies baseball in July, a porter may suit you well on a cold night of Flyers hockey. “Over time, I started building up the tap list,” Kyle said, because a beer drinker’s palate has matured in the last 15 years or so. “It’s 2018, not 1998,” he added, and breweries of all sizes are experimenting with new styles and flavor profiles. That’s why Kyle is willing to give new breweries a shot. “I love craft beer and I love sports. What could be better?” he said. “I’m always here, watching Philly sports.” The Sixers close out the win over the Bulls, and some fans close their tabs and head for the doors. Kyle remains behind the bar, chatting up the regulars and serving craft brews. But tomorrow is another day, and at Pitchers Pub, that means another game to watch.
Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 45
PLAY Best New Workout
(The Wall Cycling Studio) By Megan Douress Photography provided by Van Le
t’s no secret that Manayunk is one of the most active neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The workout options in Manayunk are endless, with never-ending trails for running and biking, and a large variety of specialty fitness studios with numerous classes to choose from. But, did you ever think to combine those workouts? Juliet Sabella has — in more ways than one. Since opening the new location of The Wall Cycling Studio on Cotton Street, Julie has come up with full-body workout combinations from Spin/Barre Fusion to Spin + Sculpt. Her latest creation, Bardio Sculpt, was voted Manayunk’s Best New Workout. What is Bardio Sculpt? Think of it like this: you take the small-range motions with high repetitions you would typically do in a traditional barre class, combine them with some aerobic-style moving and shaking, and for the cherry on top — HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises. “The class goes by so fast because your heart rate is up the entire time,” said Bardio Sculpt instructor and co-creator, Van Le. Van first fell in love with Julie’s Bardio Sculpt classes two years ago when the workout was briefly added to the weekly schedule at the fitness studio. It was the fast pace of the 45-minute class that kept her coming back for more. While it didn’t stay on the schedule for long, Julie kept the accessible workout alive by taking it on the road for pop-up classes throughout the Philadelphia area. “They’re workouts you can do anywhere versus the traditional barre class where you have all of the equipment — the balls, the weights, and the bands,” Julie explained. Bardio Sculpt makes it a little easier because you can do jump squats everywhere!” It was after a conversation with her trainer, Van, when the two decided to come up with a curriculum to get the class back on the weekly schedule. “Van said to me, ‘Could we try it again?’” Julie recalled. “It’s always been something we wanted to do. We discussed what our clients wanted as far as workouts go, and they wanted to get more of a cardio fix than you get in a traditional barre class versus a spin class. They really enjoy the burn of it, but they also love barre. Van is now the sole instructor of Bardio Sculpt, which is has been on the the schedule every Monday night at 6:45 p.m., as well as every other Saturday at 10 a.m., since November. She explained the intensity and structure of the class is what makes her clients want to spend their Monday nights with her. Van breaks the class into four sections. It starts out with some basic movements to get warmed up — think toe-tapping and stepping side to
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side — along with barre-inspired squats and lunges with extra cardio. Van often uses hand weights and resistance bands to get her clients’ arms and thighs working. The next section is where the music (carefully crafted by Van each week) picks up and the legs start shaking. Van takes everyone to the barre to do more thigh work, which usually consists of your heels raised, knees bent, and tiny one-inch movements up and down. She’ll throw the occasional ball into the mix for extra intensity. If you’re not sweating by now, you’re about to be. “My clients know at every class, there are going to be burpees, which are the worst but the best!” Van laughed. The HIIT exercise portion of the class is what really makes Bardio Sculpt different from traditional barre. To work your core and glutes, Van will write a list of exercises for clients to do rotations of in as many repetitions possible in a five-minute span. Finally, this wave of intensity calms down with slower movements and stretching. And while a good, sweaty workout on a Monday night is good, one of the best parts of the weekly class is the instructor herself. Van does almost all of the exercises and repetitions with her clients, and often yells things like “You look awesome!” and “My legs are burning!” so you know she’s right there with you — motivating you through all 45 minutes. She’s also a big advocate for getting more of a variety of clients in her classes, and crushing the misconception that barre is “just for girls.” “I got 10 of my guy friends to come to class over the holidays,” Van said. “It was nice to have them there and show them we’re tough, too!” As for those new clients — male or female — who are looking to give her class a shot, she has some words of encouragement for you. “It sounds very intimidating if you’re used to traditional barre classes,” Van said. “Just try something new — you’ll probably end up liking it!” If Monday nights aren’t enough of a Bardio Sculpt fix for you, Julie has you covered. She still takes the workouts on the road, mostly for popups with Be Kind. Always. Foundation — an organization that brings awareness to mental health. As one of their ambassadors, Julie and her team help spread their message and help with mental health by taking workouts around the city. “One hundred percent of the proceeds go right to Be Kind so we can help spread the message and mental health information around,” she added. “We always leave people with the thought of, ‘Go do something nice for someone today,’ because you never know what that act of kindness or compliment is going to do for someone.”
PLAY Best Place to Get Your Groove On
The Grape Room By Noel Bartocci Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
en years ago this February, a neighborhood haunt with roots planted firmly in this neighborhood, The Grape Street Pub, shut its doors after decades of original musical performances. A local relocation and uncertain future loomed for fans and employees of the establishment — but a desire to revive it at its original location pierced through the doubt. Today, it stands as The Grape Room, a premier Manayunk music venue and voted Best Place to Get Your Groove On. A few short years after the pub closed, Brian Hassinger — a renaissance man known around these parts simply as “Scooter” — reopened under the name The Grape Room, now in its original location. Scooter, a musician in his own right, had been a driving force at the pub for over a decade before taking the reigns as owner in 2010. If you’ve ever been in and you see a bald gentleman with dark-rimmed glasses bopping his head while serving drinks, maintaining the club, cleaning the bathrooms, or anything else The Grape Room requires — that’s him, owner extraordinaire. “It’s just me as a small proprietor,” he explained while I chuckled at the list of duties he performs daily for The Grape Room. “I have an amazing staff and a whole host of performers that help [run] open mics and comedy nights,” he adds making sure I’m aware just how much of a team effort every night really is. This sentiment of community would become even more clear as I learned more about the space from others. In order to get a fuller picture of what The Grape Room provides for our town, I reached out to some local performers, all of which were effusive about what The Grape Room offers the community. “The Grape Room is one of the true music venues in the Manayunk area. I’ve played many amazing bars and restaurants as a paid entertainer, however, for a musician who writes and performs their own music, it’s when we find ourselves in an environment built around the art form that we truly feel alive,” John Gilbride, a local musician who’s played the space multiple times explained to me. The Grape Room has cultivated an atmosphere that supports performance, expanding their offerings to include multiple open mics, in addition to booked talent, for artists to come and play. “The small stage is what I love about The Grape,” Scooter elated. “I just love the sheer unadulterated outpouring of raw emotion on stage — you feed off of the crowd because it’s right in front of you. Instead of it being a long shoot of a room, it’s a wide one. Even the bar gets to be a 48
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part of the show.” As a musician, it was easy for him to put himself on the other side of the bar and instinctually cater to both artists and the audience. “When the artists are having a great time — the people are having a great time, because the vibe is great,” Scooter said. “When it’s a killer show, you just get that vibe. [The patrons] roll up happy with smiles on their faces.” Creating this palpable air of artistic support has paid off for concert goers and bar attendees just as much as the acts. In such a shared creative environment, it’s not difficult to swerve into that wave of positive emotion. “I’ve played venues where the bartenders, servers, managers, sound techs, etc. seem disconnected, unenthusiastic, even bothered by the music in their own workplace. This was not the case [at The Grape Room].” John illustrated, adding, “I sat at the bar before and after my set and took a look around. The bartender was dancing, bobbing his head and really into the performances.” What John wasn’t aware of at the time was that that head-bobbing bartender was likely Scooter. Regardless, this shared memory got me thinking — as someone who attends a lot of live events, I cannot for the life of me recall the staff appearing to have just as much fun as everyone else. How can you not become addicted to that kind of groove, whether you’re there to perform or just take it all in? That kind of joy is undeniably contagious. Stepping up their game, The Grape Room’s offerings have expanded to include more interactive kind of nights that go beyond the typical open mic. In speaking with Pat Durkin, guitar and lead vocals for The Jawn — a fourpiece rock band from Northeast Philly — made me aware of #OpenJawn, which they host on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. They primarily improvise music and invite patrons to hop on stage and join in. This has fostered a steady group of regular contributors and fans. “The Grape Room has become home since we started hosting the jam,” Pat filled me in, adding his impressions of both Scooter and his staff. “Scooter is one of the most genuinely nice and caring people. All of the bartenders and sound people have been great — they care about the bands.” So, what’s next for The Grape Room? Scooter shared his hopes and plans for expanding hours and adding more musical performances, including acoustic sets in the upstairs bar area. But no matter what they do, he never intends to lose sight of what makes it all work — artists and the audience coming together for an incredible experience.
READERS’CHOICE Best Pet Shop
(The Spiral Bookcase)
By Luke Wysocki & Leksey Maltzman Photograph provided by Sophia Lee
t was a dark and stormy night when, after weeks of spotting her scurry about on Cotton Street with no owner, no collar, and no place to call home, Ann Tetreault met her furry friend. Ann, the owner of Manayunk’s cozy neighborhood bookstore, The Spiral Bookcase, agreed to help a lost adult cat when, half a decade ago, a woman stepped out of the rain and into Ann’s store with the shop pet that customers now rave about as, “the sweetest cat they’ve ever met.” Amelia, voted Manayunk’s Best Shop Pet, is a gorgeous calico cat with a charming coat of fur made up of orange, black, and white. Ann took one look at this beauty and told the woman, “Leave her here. Maybe we can get her adopted or at least foster her in the meantime.” While Ann herself was initially hesitant to take Amelia in, because of possible cat allergies and her concerns about how the cat would treat the books in her store, she still cared for Amelia’s well-being. She decided to take Amelia to the vet to check for a chip in the cat that could trace back to her home. As it turned out, Amelia had no chip so Ann made sure to get her shots up to date and ensured that she was eating well again before fostering the cat herself. After having fostered Amelia for a while and discussing possible adoption plans with others that fell through, Ann decided she had fallen in love with Amelia and was ready to adopt her as her new shop pet. In a matter of moments that Ann describes as “a fateful night that was meant to be,” Amelia the Cotton Street stray had found a new home at The Spiral Bookcase. Amelia’s personality is best described as a people cat. “She just adores attention and adores people,” Ann said. “She is pretty persistent when she wants attention. We even have dog people coming in who aren’t interested in cats that say how different Amelia is.” Amelia’s daily routine starts with her early morning rounds of the store, as she looks out the door windows and walks about, before settling in on one of the chairs in the little reading room in the back of the store. “She has people who come to see her because they adore her and just want to sit and spend time with her,” Ann said. When The Spiral Bookcase opens for the day, Amelia’s routine includes greeting people as they come in the store and meowing at people to give
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her love and attention. “She takes ownership of people,” Ann said. “I’ve never met such a friendly cat. My cats at home are friendly, but nothing to the level of how she looks at people.” Amelia’s friendly personality has not gone unnoticed by many in the Philadelphia community. “She’s had a couple of different brushes with fame,” Ann mentioned. Amelia’s fame began when she won The Best International Bookstore Cat competition that Ann entered her in through Quirk Books, a Phillybased publisher. Amelia became even more famous when Philly.com picked up her story, and she was prominently featured in the book entitled Bookstore Cats. Later on, she was featured in another article on Voters.com called Bookstore Cats That Are Worth Taking A Road Trip For. “Randomly, I’ll get an article sent by a customer that says, ‘I found her on this website,’” Ann recalled. “She has this magical ability to make people fall in love with her,” Ann said. Amelia was even featured on a pencil pouch that Out of Print Clothing Company did for Independent Bookstore Day. “She’s been on merchandise,” Ann laughed. “It’s great! We’re working on getting more merchandise of her in the store, like buttons and magnets. Next up, a children’s book!” At 17 years young, Amelia is still thriving. “She is very spry,” Ann said, “Everyone is very surprised at how old she is.” Amelia does have Hyperthyroidism, meaning she has an overactive thyroid, a typical condition in older cats. She has blood work done every six months and is fed special food for this condition, which Ann says can be expensive at times. “We do ask for donations for her,” Ann mentioned, “We call it Amelia’s Medical Fund and people are very generous because they love her so much.” Amelia has been at The Spiral Bookcase for the majority of the seven and a half years Ann has been in business. “I can’t imagine this store without her. She just attaches herself to people,” Ann expressed proudly. “It is just her favorite thing, to be adored.”
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Spring 2018 | manayunk.com 51
EDITOR’S CHOICE Entrepreneur Of The Year
(TerryLeahyFilms) By Leo Dillinger Photo provided by Terry Leahy
eing an entrepreneur requires a great deal of ambition, courage to overcome the fear of failure, and the proper skill set needed to attain your goals. Which is why this year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award goes to Terry Leahy of TerryLeahyFilms, who has spent the last two years producing and directing Manayunk’s first-ever web series and working with local businesses on video marketing. Working at a movie theater in high school sparked Terry’s interest in the industry, leading him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video at Penn State University. As an 18-year-old having never used a camera before, he entered his first video production class with a determination to learn as much as possible. He even reshot an entire project to fix the mistakes from his initial submission for extra points. His professor was so impressed by Terry’s drive for perfection that he helped him lock in a part-time job at a PBS station in State College, which he held throughout his college tenure. “It literally became, ‘Do you want to skip college real quick?’” Terry said jokingly. “And that’s what it felt like, because it was so different. You learn all the technique and the physical toll that it can put on you. Eventually, I was shooting stuff remotely for ESPN. You can’t do that if you’re a student, but because I was already working in the industry, I was able to.” After college, Terry accepted a full-time job at QVC but immediately realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. Coming from a background in news and sports, he found the work too boring and the crew too apathetic. Terry decided to quit and move back to his hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY. One day, Terry noticed a car that had “Bigler Productions” written on the side. Out of curiosity, he emailed the company’s owner, Dave Bigler, and offered to volunteer his time to help in order to keep his skills sharp. Dave spoke with him over coffee about his professional experience and soon after, invited Terry to a shoot that night to showcase what he could do. Sure enough, Terry proved his worth and the very next day, Dave offered him a part-time job. Over time, part-time became full-time and eventually a partnership in the company, spearheading a corporate marketing division. “YouTube had finally hit, so companies were ready to start tapping into it,” Terry said. “In that town, there were only three of us who knew how to shoot. So we had to figure it out and before too long, people started throwing money at us. Dave really showed me how to start a small company and run it successfully.” By the time he turned 27, Terry had amassed nearly a decade of videography experience as well as a full arsenal of camera equipment. He knew it was time to take that leap of faith and venture off to start his 52
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own company: TerryLeahyFilms. Being originally from the Philadelphia area, Terry figured it would be a good place to start. Terry researched different neighborhoods where small businesses were thriving with a functioning chamber of commerce. When he came across Manayunk.com’s massive online and social media presence, he immediately contacted Executive Director, Jane Lipton, to discuss ways to work with the community. Coincidentally, he reached out at the right time for the inaugural Best Of Manayunk event and was put to work filming red carpet interviews. The final videos came out so well that Terry proposed taking this partnership with the neighborhood a step further. “I had a plan that I wanted to start a video series in town so that I could meet everybody and they could see what I could do,” Terry said. “When the conversation of compensation about Best Of Manayunk came up, I told Jane that instead of getting paid, I wanted help to executive produce a local show, and that’s essentially how Manayunk Mornings got started.” Now two years and nearly 40 episodes later, the show has entered its third season of featuring everything the neighborhood has to offer and gaining thousands of views with every episode. “The most important decision I’ve made in the last three years was meeting with Manayunk.com because that changed everything.” Since starting his own company, Terry has gained a vast array of clients (including a number of Manayunk businesses) and traveled all across the country from Los Angeles to Chicago to North Carolina for shoots. But with more clients comes more deadlines, and Terry quickly learned he couldn’t do everything on his own. Now, Terry has a team with the right skills in place to handle editing, coloring, and audio, which gives him more time to handle the production side of things. “I didn’t put my name on the company out of arrogance. I put it on to let people know I am steering this ship,” Terry said. “I got into this business to direct. I can always guarantee I will be on that set.” In today’s digital age, the demand for video content has skyrocketed, and Terry has taken notice. Terry wouldn’t be where he is today without the people who believed in his work. And, it goes without saying that his work speaks for itself. Although he is eager to see what the future has in store for TerryLeahyFilms, he’ll always remember Manayunk for the special role it has played in his life. “I’m here to help,” Terry plainly stated. “The reason I’m in this specific area is to help it grow and become whatever it was meant to be. You can always call. I’ll take any meeting and have any conversation with anybody in this community that just has questions of how to do it. At the end of the day, we all want to succeed.”
RIGHT ON THE WATER WAY OUT OF THE ORDINARY Life at The Isle brings waterfront living to Manayunk. These brand new apartments feature upscale amenities and offer everything you want to fit your lifestyle. Enjoy scenic water views from your apartment or use the private resident pedestrian bridge to hop over to Main Street to dine at your favorite local restaurant or try one of Manayunk’s own brews from the Manayunk Brewing Company. Whether you want to work up a sweat in the state of the art fitness center or go for a jog along the canal, there’s no shortage of options for fitness fans. Located in the heart of Manayunk, you have easy access to nearby destinations like Center City and King of Prussia.
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Touch & Glow Relaxation Lounge (4112 Station St.) Want the ultimate relaxation experience? Touch & Glow Relaxation Lounge has you covered! With a wide range of services offered, from massages, manicures, and facials, to lash extensions, waxing, and henna tattoos, you can fully immerse yourself in the ultimate spa getaway. Stop by after a hard day (or if you’re just looking to spoil yourself) and feel the stress melt away!
Pet Friendly Dog Bakery (4324 Main St.) The perfect place to take your pooch! The Pet Friendly Dog Bakery has an array of organic treats and accessories your dog will love. Feel free to spend some quality time with your pup in the doggy lounge or run around with them in the backyard dog park! For any doggy need, the dog bakery has you covered.
Jason’s Cozyday Korean Style Kitchen & Bar (4371 Main St.) Jason Kim, owner of @Ramen, recently opened his second restaurant on Main Street! Stop in to Jason’s Cozyday for authentic Korean cuisine and unique takes on traditional dishes including Korean-style fried chicken, fried dumplings, and bibimbap. This brand new BYOB restaurant is sure to excite your taste buds and bring you back for more!
Fire for Effect Athletics (123 Leverington Ave) Fire for Effect Athletics is the ultimate gym to help you crush your workout goals! The gym is focused on functional fitness for all ages. Want something more fitted for your workout routine? Check out their clubs! There is something for Olympic weightlifters, strongman competitions, powerlifters, and even yoga and massage opportunities. Anything you need to get in shape is at Fire for Effect Athletics!
Scallywags Dog Daycare (4367 Cresson St.) Dogs are like our kids, so why not treat them like it? Scallywags Dog Daycare is an innovative new service that will look after your dog while you’re at work! With hours from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekdays, the safe, fun, and social environment for your dog will have him wanting to play all day. You know what they say, a tired dog is a good dog!
manayunk.com | Spring 2018
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